In December 2004, we visited the Canadian Space Agency
to evaluate their mission simulation system.
In front of the John H. Chapman Space Centre. On the day we
arrived, it was about -15F (without wind chill). Extreme cold!
Before we talked business with the Canadians, we toured the facility.
This is a model of the Mobile
where the large Space Station manipulator is based.
This is inside the MSS
Operations Training Simulator
(MOTS), where astronauts are
trained on how to use the Space Station robotic system. The panel
on the right
emulates a wall of the Space Station interior. The robotic
workstation is being
discussed in this picture.
This is the workstation where astronauts train to run the robotic
system on the International Space Station.
Note the two handcontrollers that are part of this system. The
one on the right (near my hand) is the
rotational handcontroller, which controls rotations of the robot arm
end-effector. The one on the other
side of the laptop is the translational handcontroller for controlling
translations of the arm.
The above three screens show simulated camera views.
After this picture was taken, I tried operating the robotic system and
in grabbing a satelite despite little training and the flexibility of
the SSRMS system.
Close-up view of the control panel underneath the rotational
This is another important simulator facility. It is known as the
SPDM Task Verification Facility (STVF). Since space robots
are generally as light as possible, they can be too weak and flexible
to be used on the ground. Crews can be trained with their
operation by calculating their motion in a computer simulation, and
then using a strong stiff robot arm (in this case, a hydraulic
arm) to execute the motions. Forces that are detected by sensors
are then fed back into the simulation, completing the
hardware-in-the-loop system. This system allows us to test tools
and perform servicing tasks.
We left Canada a bit cold, but with the appreciation for the good work
that the CSA and MDR have done to support
the International Space Station robotics effort. We will rely on
their assistance to develop simulators for our own