Virtual reality based space operations - A study of ESA's potential for VR based training and simulation
This paper presents the results of a study the authors conducted together over a year in order to identify key issues of ESAâs (European Space Agency) potential for a deployment of Virtual Reality training environments within space operations. Typically, ESA simulates several operations using DES like systems that need to be linked to a VR environment for training purposes. Based on the second generation of VR equipment and development tools the paper describes a holistic design approach from scenario development through design decisions on SW and HW choices until the final development of a PoC for a virtual lunar base that might simulate the metabolism of a lunar base. Here the idea was to mirror the mass- and energy-flows within a lunar base in order to maintain an environment, in which astronauts can live and work and to establish a tool that supports the training of astronauts for operating such a lunar base, the one likely next step of human space exploration bey ond the International Space Station as identified by ESAs decision makers. In the end, we have realized a PoC for a fire emergency case on a lunar base allowing astronauts being trained in a fully simulated and integrated environment. The system could be tested and evaluated in two set-ups, first using classical VR controllers, second, using recent VR glove technology.