Published on June 15th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Virtual Reality will be a Big Part of Boeing’s Starliner Astronaut Training
It was interesting to see the astronaut control panel of the recent SpaceX Dragon that launched on May 30 as it was an array of touch screen panels. Gone was the myriad of buttons, switches, toggles and gauges that we are used to seeing. Space tech is changing in all areas and training is no different. This article at space.com by Mike Wall reports how astronauts are learning to fly the Boeing Starliner capsule by using virtual reality software. The astronauts can do everything they would do in the actual spacecraft but in VR headsets. This allows them to prepare anywhere and repeatedly resulting in their important tasks becoming muscle memory. They will still train in the actual capsule but the VR training gives them better preparedness and is quicker and less expensive.
Image credit: Boeing
Astronauts will get some next-gen training before they ride Boeing’s next-gen spacecraft.
Crewmembers preparing to fly on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule will train using virtual reality (VR) headsets provided by Finland-based Varjo, both companies announced today (June 11).
Varjo’s VR-2 devices will allow astronauts to simulate, in high resolution and with high fidelity, every aspect of a Starliner mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Varjo and Boeing representatives said.
“We are proud to be delivering the technology that is pushing industrial training applications to their furthest reaches — even to space,” Varjo co-founder and CEO Niko Eiden said in a statement.
“With our devices, astronauts can see and virtually interact with the switches and control panels inside their Starliner capsule and read the real-time data on their crew displays,” Eiden said. “Advancements like this have the potential to transform the way any pilot is trained.”
Boeing has been developing Starliner with funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, most notably a $4.2 billion contract signed in 2014 that also covers six operational crewed missions to and from the ISS. SpaceX holds a similar deal, which Elon Musk’s company will fulfill with its Crew Dragon capsule.
SpaceX just launched its first crewed mission, sending NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS on a test flight called Demo-2. Starliner should follow suit relatively soon; Boeing plans to launch its version of Demo-2, called Crew Flight Test (CFT), early next year.