Press-Release 2016-12-09

NASA Experts Were Impressed by UNIGINE 2

UNIGINE CEO Denis Shergin has visited NASA VR Lab as a member of Russian expert team. Russian and American professionals meet each other in Johnson Space Center in Houston to share expertise and find out about new technologies in the field of VR trainings for International space station missions. The visualization technologies for a space projects presented by UNIGINE were highly appreciated by NASA engineers. 

Russia develops a VR project for astronaut training managed by Rocket and space corporation "Energia”, the meeting in Houston was arranged because of this project. 

The main purpose of the project is to create a virtual environment that will provide an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) training for the International Space Station (ISS) crew. Nowadays, both USA and Russia use the ISS – the main modern space project, which demands a special skills for spacewalk missions. Even though these pre-flight trainings still include exercises in a giant swimming pool, the demand for training via VR simulators is growing. The Russian expert team is now elaborating such a training complex.

Any mistake during the space mission could cost a lot, so ISS crew should know all the actions inside out. Besides, once an astronauts steps outside the ISS, they should know exactly what to expect. To precisely visualize the environment, the graphics level of a simulator should be detailed, realistic and accurate.

In Russia, a UNIGINE 2 technology has been chosen as a visual platform for VR simulator used for EVA trainings for ISS expeditions. The first impressive visualization of ISS created by UNIGINE team was presented to American colleagues. This demonstration became the central part of the Russian team presentation in Houston.

The NASA VR Lab has been created in 1980s. It was NASA engineers who pioneered the world's VR technologies development. These days, their VR lab is both a unique museum of VR technologies and a place where modern VR solutions for space industries are invented.

The first VR training for the real-life mission was conducted in VR Lab in 1993. The mission was to repair the Hubble Telescope. It required weeks of complex preparations and five spacewalks during the real mission.

The VR Lab is a part of The Lyndon Johnson Space Center, the main training base of the US astronauts. The space crews are training there not only in the VR mode, but also in the old-fashioned way – on the real copies of spacecrafts and ISS modules. 

Sometimes visual simulation is not yet enough. For instance, astronaut have to get accustomed for the spacesuit and its constraints and also clearly understand how tools and other objects behave in micro-gravity. So in the Lab there is a special training set which can transmit the perception of mass and inertia on the Earth orbit.

The NASA experts were very impressed by the UNIGINE 2 platform and its capabilities in the field of space projects. The VR Lab engineers highly appreciated the visualization quality, the ISS detalization and the real-time performance.

Undoubtedly, the experience and feedback from their NASA colleagues will help Russian team to develop VR training systems for Russian space crew. The contractors of RSC Energia plan to finish the development of this software for EVA training on ISS in 3 years.