Astronaut training: Isro on global hunt for firms to co-develop key simulator | India News

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BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), which has been training the four astronaut-elects at its centre in Bengaluru, is set to move the regime to the next level. To achieve this, Isro is on a global hunt for a firm it can co-develop a key simulator.
The Gaganyaan mission’s scope is to design and develop necessary technologies and infrastructure elements to undertake human spaceflight to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with an astronauts’ crew. The mission will have different phases — ascent, on orbit, de-boost and descent phase.
The agency has floated a global tender — an expression of interest (EoI) — to acquire a dynamic training simulator (DTS). The vendors who qualify will develop the simulator for Isro, which will among other things develop and supply the simulation software, configuration of the crew module interior, mission sequence, and carry out review of design and realisation of systems.
Any new IP created during the development of the simulator will be shared by the vendor and Isro. On why DTS, Isro elaborates: “Gaganyaan crew and mission control personnel will need extensive training before undertaking human spaceflight demonstration. Astronaut training needs to be carried out to prepare the crew for all the conceivable contingencies and equip them to manage all the mission situations. Such a preparedness calls for various levels of training modules such as basic, advanced and mission-specific training (MST).”
And, MST is supported by various crew training simulators (CTS) identified based on different capabilities for crew training, one of which is the DTS.
Isro further said that in order to familiarise the crew with all the phases of the mission and train them for various nominal and off-nominal operations, training through simulators is a necessity.
“Virtual Reality (VR) has been instrumental in space mission training which has the capability to simulate anything from extravehicular space walks to operating an emergency spacecraft operation. In order for astronauts to be familiar with how to control the spacecraft and use the tools, the virtual assets need to look as close to the real thing as possible,” the EoI, a copy of which is TOI, reads.
It adds that subjecting trainees to dynamics is essential to familiarise them with the level of acceleration, attitude and vibration of the module during dynamic phases of the mission so that their performance during mission can be enhanced.
“VR can be used to train a range of mission scenarios — both nominal and off-nominal — from pre-launch to touchdown phase. The training experience should be realistic enough for trainees to be able to sit down comfortably and navigate with confidence in the actual human mission,” it added.
Firms have time till September 30 to respond, after which Isro will begin the vendor qualification process.
The key functions of the DTS will be to familiarise trainees with the crew module (CM) dynamics (angular rates & orientation) during various phases of the mission; with the levels of vibration and acoustic levels at different stages of the mission, and, to help practice SOPs under various mission scenarios.
The simulator will have a provision to train a maximum of two at a time with space suits, and if one of the trainees is absent, it will have the technology to match him with a dummy mass.
“It will simulate the interior of the CM using VR hardware and software, include hardware — console and other systems for actual ops — in physical form using mixed reality platform aside from simulating attitude and body rates during various mission phases, including vibration of trainee seat during dynamic phases of mission,” Isro said.
The DTS should have a capability to perform real-time closed loop mission simulation (console-related activities & hardware handling operations), have a provision to communicate (audio) with control centre and trainer for more realistic simulation of actual flight, among other things.
“In addition, based on the configuration of the simulator, provision shall exist to carry out training independently on either the dynamic simulator without VR headset or wearing the headset without the dynamic simulator,” Isro added.
Key Functions Of DTS:
■ To familiarise the traineed with crew module (CM) dynamics (angular rates & orientation) during various phases of the mission
■ To familiarise the trainee with levels of vibration and acoustic levels at different stages of the mission
■ To practice SOPs under various off-nominal and nominal mission scenarios.
Functional Requirements of DTS:
The simulator will be used to familiarise the trainee with the CM dynamics during various phases of the mission and practice SOPs during dynamic phases of the mission. The major functional requirements are:
■ Provision to train maximum of two at a time with space suit
■ If one trainee is absent, provision to match the CG requirements with dummy mass
■ Provision to simulate the interior of CM using VR hardware and software
■ Provision to include hardware — console and other systems for actual ops — in physical form (mixed reality platform)
■ Simulate attitude and body rates during various mission phases
■ Simulate vibration of trainee seat during dynamic phases of mission
■ Capability to perform real-time closed loop mission simulation (console-related activities & hardware handling ops)
■ Provision to communicate (audio) with control centre and trainer for more realistic simulation of actual flight
■ Provision for haptic feedback to enhance the feeling while touching objects in virtual space
■ Provision to record training scenario and related data and performance document shall be generated of each training session
■ In addition, based on the configuration of the simulator, provision shall exist to carry out training independently on either the dynamic simulator without VR headset or wearing the headset without the dynamic simulator
DTS Will Comprise Of:
■ 6-DOF (degree of freedom) platform
■ VR/Mixed reality based platform including hardware and software
■ Seating provision for trainees and subsystems like console
■ Simulation computers & other interface systems and VR systems
■ Support systems for powering and interfacing with console & other systems
■ Haptic full body suit — to simulate whole body tracking for usage in VR simulations & provide haptic feedback during operations; It’ll also be used to simulate vibration during specific phases of mission
■ Trainer console will be GUI based system for initiation and control of simulation by having interfaces with all systems in the simulator.



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