Discussion Mission Control Mega-Thread

davewave

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Well now you see, the problem is... who gets to fly the Ravenstar?

All those people signing up for a mission who can do nothing but watch, in the best traditions of mission control, fair enough, but I'm not seeing a lot of fun in sitting around watching someone play Orbiter when I could be playing Orbiter myself...

It sounds like a cool idea in principle, I agree, but once you look into it a little we start to get problems. I think this has also actually been attempted once. Have a look at this - and do note that it's still a beta.

-Mod Note-
From now on, this is the thread for any discussion about mission control addons for Orbiter. Any posts or threads about mission control for Orbiter will be merged with this thread, except for those in the 'OrbitHangar Addons & Comments' forum which are associated directly with an addon on Orbit Hangar.
Happy Orbiting
Holy Cow. I just came back onto the forums and I can't believe my mod was being linked. That would explain the 1849 downloads!!

Yes, Well, the idea behind this mod was to have it setup in such a way that one player would be the pilot and 3 or 4 people would run mission control. Then, most of the decisions would be determined by Mission control and communicated (say via teamspeak) to the pilot.
Of course, as mentioned, it can get pretty boring and this is only because in orbiter there isn't any "systems" checks that need to be done. No crew sleep cycles, eating, scientific tests etc etc. On a bad day, the spacecraft in orbiter will ALWAYS work (unless they simulate damage).

Anyhow, if the request ever came up again to do something like this I might consider it, but right now I think things like OFSS are much more exciting. I'm also considering to make a mod that monitors achievments which can be posted on the forum for bragging rights. (EG transport 5 crew without exceeding unacceptable G forces).
 

Matrix52

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Hi,
I am working on a classroom based Mission control sort of thing using labview
 

Goth

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So...
for singleplayer Loru's solution is the best one:
I suggest using combo of:

1 - Remote Control MFD - for controling ship
2 - CameraMFD (Ed. Telescope MFD too) - onboard camera with nightvision to act like sensor
3 - all MFD's needed for navigation or you want
to incorporate

All mfd's you're using should be activated in "external MFD" window with ground based camera targeting other vessel (UGCO car for example) to avoid flips during orbital movement of craft you're piloting.
Although it's a kind of cheat, but not a big deal after all.


But what about multiplayer (or singleplayer without the possibility to "cheat" - e.g. changing the camera)?

Net issues can be easily solved with Hamachi or similar software. But what addon(s) to use remains a problem.

OMP is one option.

Orbiter Navigator seems dead, but it looks very good and the most advanced one; I hope it's open source. Anyone knows?

[ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=5823"]Orb:Connect[/ame] is just a base for development.

[ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=3436"]Mission Control for Orbiter Beta 1[/ame] looks very basic.

[ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=6437"]Orb::Connect LabView[/ame] is also very basic.

[ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=6435"]Orb::Connect::Web[/ame] is also very basic, although improving/developing it may be easy.

Remote Control MFD (SourceForge) is dead and it's only MFDs anyway.

[ame="http://orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=4923"]WebMFD[/ame], also MFDs only.

Gaia station control room "is singleplayer".


Looks like we don't have a perfect solution yet.
Well, this list may be useful.
Did I miss some?
 
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fred18

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I think the very best for an MCC would be to use now the new orbConnect module, prepare html pages for FIDO, EECOM etc., with the possibility of storing flight parameters in simple files in order to recall them later on (to check if anything is going wrong) and to pass them through users.

Then 1 pc is running the simulation, the others connected through the net and talking through softwares like teamspeak can perform the proper MCC, remotely controlling the ship with WebMFD for example.

I would love to have time to implement this...
 

Goth

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IMO controlling the ship is not what a mission control plugin should do, only monitoring it and sending trajectory information. Exactly what Orbiter Navigator and Mission Control for SSU was planning to do. For maneuvers the plugin will send its calculation results to a dedicated MFD and the ship will perform the maneuver by itself, either manually following those data or using an autopilot.
This will reflect what's actually happening between the shuttle and mission control.

---------- Post added at 23:15 ---------- Previous post was at 22:48 ----------

Well this is vessel specific. However, since the standard seems to be UCGO and UMMUs, we could use that.
 

fred18

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anyway the first step for an MCC could be the space network :thumbup:

[ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=6231"]http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=6231[/ame]
 

kamaz

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For MFDs over the network, check out VNCMFD.

You could build you mission control application on ORC (description, download) -- it's written in C# Express, and has both VNC and Orb::Connect clients built-in. If you have installed NetDialog (download, description), ORC will also intercept dialog boxes.

Also you can check out [ame="http://orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=6443"]master/slave[/ame] which is designed for state synchronization between orbiters, but you could also use it to build a mission control application.

For all my add-ons, source code is included in package.
 

StefanE

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Hi together,

I think the idea of a MCC fascinating. I would immediately jump on it!
But... There are equivalent organisations in the internet for Air Traffic Control, many of us have probably heard of: VATSIM (formerly SATCO), IVAO und some minor more exotic structures. I myself was heavily involved in getting the german branch of VATSIM to work before checking out a few years ago. During all this time - which amounts to roughly 15 years - we had one main topic: How can we generate enough traffic to make it wortwhile? If you are staffing an ATC-Position, let's say Tower, you can be happy if you have 10 movements per evening. This requires 10 pilots to satisfy a single controller. Now consider that VATSIM and the other organisations have tens of thousands of virtual pilots all over the world and a few thousand Controllers and they still have problems creating enough traffic, how will this be with orbiter and a MCC?

Nearly all postings in this thread deal with technical aspects of a MCC. There is no single item which can not be done. Everything we dream of has been done already in one way or another in the ATC-World. Only one posting (davewave in #24) deals with the aspect of sufficant traffic.

Out of experience i can say that this will be the far bigger problem and more opinions and suggestions on this aspect are required, before moving on with this idea

Kind regards
StefanE
 

kamaz

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One air traffic controller controls multiple aircraft.

One spacecraft requires multiple flight controllers.

In fact, the main idea in the thread seems to be that you should fly the spaceraft using the mission control app, not directly... So perfectly OK for single player if you are able/willing to monitor several consoles (windows) at the same time.
 

fred18

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I've been thinking a lot of an MCC, I actually also started to build one myself that is working quite well, but if it's only for monitoring flight variables I ended up in understanding that it's not worth it, because instead of looking at the altitude in the FIDO screen it's easier to look for it in the HUD or in the surface MFD... so how can be an MCC for orbiter successful?

I think the ingredients for success should be:

- an MCC should work for both single player and multiplayer via web

- it must have the capability of storing datas and to recall data later on, so i can perform a mission or a test launch, and then do the full mission looking at the screen with reference parameters. this is really a key! if I have to look only for the altitude the HUD is more than enough, but what if I have a stored file (that could be received from other users) and I have to check if the altitude profile during launch is in line with what it should be? Then no surfaceMFD or HUD can help, only the MCC

- it has to be modular, so I can be in single player all the controllers at once, or I can do a multiplayer online mission, with other controllers following the simulation. The simulation could be run even without graphic IMO, it would be really "immersive", ora one users run the simulation and is one of the flight controllers.

- It should simulate some of the sistems that are not modelled in every addon in orbiter and then simulate the interaction with them. Electrical for example, it can simulates everything about electrical system and also simulate failures to it (in the new Jarvis I think the failure simulation was really worth to implement) .

at FOI there was (is still there, but the author is really busy in the last months) a live broadcast channel, named Orbiter Live Missions, with live missions in realtime broadcasted and commented live. If I imagine to organize a mission live broadcasted and to use the orbConnect new web module, so everybody that is watching the mission can also watch at the screens of the flight controllers I think it would be really nice.



That's my thinking, I've been studying on MCC for a while, I'm curious to listen to other people ideas ;)
 

Goth

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Considerations about MCC and GUI

Very good post, I like all the points, especially the simulation of ship systems like electrical stuff; it's very hard to make an addon which simulates a lot of switches and internal systems, but doing it in a non-3D-graphic environment (just a simple GUI Window made e.g. in Qt) and "independently" from Orbiter will be way easier and you could focus on the technical things without worrying about the rest.
You could simulate each flight controller and systems and use Orbiter only for the physics/atmoshperic calculatons and for e.g. visually watching the launch phase. Then everything is done by the MCC software; this will add many functionalities that currently makes no sense to have in Orbiter because of how it's designed and due to the MFDs, as others have mentioned.
Extending the idea, things like EVAs and cargo operations could be simulated independently from Orbiter by the MCC software, without worrying about graphically showing it in Orbiter and overcoming its limitations: UCGO is interesting but it's still very limited by the OrbiterAPI and by the great amount of work which e.g. doing 3D models requires. We're after all hobbist developers that work for free in they're free time for a free sim. So the KISS principle may be useful here.
Having astronauts doing experiments inside a space station means in UCGO just displaying some text lines. With an external MCC software, you could display more interesing data, images, graphs.
What about a 2d representation of the space station, where you can click on parts of the space station seeing what instrumentation / which astronaut is inside, etc.
This all requires hard work but not so much compared with doing this with 3D graphics and with current Orbiter API, and with good visually satisfying results.
And still the project will be cool anyway because you'll still have all these new features, changing how you play Orbiter: no more a lonely ship going around in the universe by her own, but something more complex and real; managing things that are now "hidden".

---------- Post added at 17:44 ---------- Previous post was at 13:17 ----------

Adding some sketches to the words:
 
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orbitingpluto

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I like what Goth was saying about an external program adding to the Orbiter experience, but I feel a good deal of it can be done without too much hard work or making things out of new cloth. While I'm not a developer(or a programmer), I don't think the Orbiter API is nearly as limiting said, and I'm also a bit wary of a MCC project that relies on starting pretty much from scratch. For example, with IMS(an existing addon, meaning less work for a MCC developer) you can simulate some of the functions of a space station(or interplanetary ship), like life support, power, astronauts(though UMMU) cargo(with IMS's own resources, not sure if UCGO can be fit in), and to a limited extent experiments\equipment, though they are just modules drawing power. One could use IMS as a part of a MCC addon, or be compatible with it, though I'm not sure Jedidia will appreciate the time or effort this will take on his part. Since I'm not a programmer I don't even know if I'm barking up the right tree. I'll muse on anyway, it's nice to dream, and I could spark things in the right direction even if I'm on a wrong path right now.

Basically, instead of simming the space station or space ship all by it's self, the MCC program will instead link to a IMS vessel in sim. IMS will do it's thing, and through a new feature be able to share it's own data and receive data form the outside, allowing the MCC program to do anything from check propellent, use killrot, or operate the radiators. On the MCC's end, it could simulate failures by telling IMS to power down a module, and only allowing 'turn on' commands after a repair process; why and when these MCC failures happen is the MCC's business, as IMS just gets commands through the MCC program, and if a user commanded a turn off or the MCC program itself did, it's not like IMS has to know. Astronauts and experiments could be handled by the MCC asking for what modules and astronauts are on the ship from IMS, and then though a dialog box or whatever a user could assign astros to specific modules to 'work', though this will be internal to MCC, seeing as IMS can't do anything with a command like "Astronaut 'Bob' to work in Module 'Salt_Mine'":p.

Course, that's just a idea of how a MCC program could interact with a addon that supports external access to interesting internal stuff. For a lot of addons though, many don't have internal systems to play with, and quite a interesting addons are spacecraft3 or multistage based, meaning if there is going to be sub-system to deal with on those, the MCC program will have to give them one, or at least some simulation of a sub-system. Taking a cue from the Jarvis .dll'ed version, I think config files could hold important info, like what sub-systems a vessel has, what can fail, and a MCC program could use that to cut the engines when it decides an engine failure. Stuff like whether or not a solar panel is in shadow will make simulating an electrical system hard, at least for solar powered craft, and there could be problems simulating overheating or lack of heat too, unless the MCC developer can find a dodge for figuring out this. Maybe the config file will have things like battery capacity, discharge rate, and for solar powered vessels, a 'normal' power output in Earth orbit, and the MCC program will ignore the actual position of the panels(cause as far as I can guess, it's difficult to impossible for it to know where the panels are facing) and use the normal value, though this still leaves the task of figuring out whether the craft is in shadow.

I think I've rambled enough, got to go.:tiphat:
 

StefanE

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The Mission Control Mega Thread is fading already, so I thought it worthwile to do something about it, if we want it to become real. So i looked through all recent postings and wrote down a few thoughts about what we want to achieve and how we should proceed.

What should a Mission Control Center for Orbiter look like? What do we want to achieve?

It is my impression, that the scope of MCC is very different wether you have a mission in LEO or in deep space, wether it is manned or unmanned.

To get things running, I have one specific scenario in mind: LEO and manned, e.g. Space Shuttle and ISS with other scenarios to follow, once we have experience with the basics.

1. Step: Define what MCC should do

Launch of the shuttle:

Not much to do, except we want to simulate part of the countdown sequence, which is entirely off-Orbiter. With "off-Orbiter" I mean simulations, for which Orbiter gives us little or no input. We will see, that we have a lot more off-Orbiter sims, if we want to. Situation differs for Launch Operations if we include Mission Planning. This would among other things require calculating the precise lift of date and time and the entire ascent profile.

Rendezvous and Docking:

Data for Midcourse Corrections come from the MCC in real life – to my knowledge.
This can be done by locating the ORBTGT-MFD on the ground and transmitting burn times and directions via voice.

Operations with ISS:

Calculating Re-boost of the ISS/Shuttle stack to achieve a desired orbit

Undocking and Landing:

Tbd.

ISS-Operations without shuttle:

Re-boost of the ISS to get into an orbit which facilitates docking operations with regard to
lighting conditions, communication blackout and further more
Positioning of the ISS for Docking (LVLH)
Feathering Solar panels for Docking / Undocking
Debris Avoidance Manoevers.
Relocation of the SSRMS
Camera operations?

Not mentioned: All sorts of off-Orbiter simulations, e.g. Life Support, Energy management (fuel cells), Thermal management, EVAs, Heat Shield scanning (Shuttle), Fuel management..

Off-orbiter simulations must however have some sort of interaction with Orbiter. Not observing certain actions, e.g. failure to do on-orbit fuel cell maintenance must result in some kind of restriction to subsequent actions.


2. Step: Normally we should define a number of persons (also called a "team"), who looks further into this matter, but we are still in the brainstorming phase, so we do not want to bar anybody to contribute his ideas. However, at some point, somebody has to finalize a specfication. A preliminary team could comprise of all recent posters in this thread upto now:

kamaz
fred18
Goth
orbitingpluto
Matias Saibene
Matrix52
StefanE

And

Davewave he did something already


3. Step: Assigning tasks
4. Step: Review
5. Step: Further development


I think we should first agree on a scenario as described above or a different one out of the possibilties LEO/DeepSpace and Manned/Unmanned. I think it is important that it is one Scenario, not several ones.


Kind regards
StefanE
 

kamaz

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I'm mildly skeptical if you actually need to write a full-blown mission control application at this point. fred18 has already used Orb::Connect::Web in a mission control scenario:

I just tried this with a friend of mine... I was flying over the atlantic and he was telling me on the phone altitude, speed, pitch, yaw, everything, without neither having orbiter installed on his pc!
(NB you may want to check out the thread this was posted in for some relevant discussion)

So all it takes is that the pilot runs Orb::Connect::Web on his computer, then the flight controllers connect to his computer using a web browser, monitor flight parameters and give the pilot commands over teamspeak or whatever.

All you'd need to do is to design a bunch of HTML/JS pages corresponding to flight controller roles (BOOSTER, FIDO, GUIDO, etc.) for data display. Live graphs could be easily added (there's a ton of free JS components for that). We can even have live MFDs embedded in panels with VNCMFD/WebMFD and some hacking.

For unmanned flights the concept is the same, except that the console has buttons which send Orb::Connect commands to control the spacecraft.

Use master/slave renderer if you want to give the controller his own camera on spacecraft.
 

fred18

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I have to say that a project for a brand new complete MCC is really interesting, but also enormously time consuming, and the new web edition of orbConnect could be really the key. Actually the first idea that lit up in my mind when I saw the new web Orb connect was exactly the application in an MCC. I started to work on something but it took me a while to learn a bit of C++ for orbiter, and now starting again with java is a bit too much for the time being. But my idea is exactly in line with this:

kamaz said:
All you'd need to do is to design a bunch of HTML/JS pages corresponding to flight controller roles (BOOSTER, FIDO, GUIDO, etc.) for data display. Live graphs could be easily added (there's a ton of free JS components for that). We can even have live MFDs embedded in panels with VNCMFD/WebMFD and some hacking.

For unmanned flights the concept is the same, except that the console has buttons which send Orb::Connect commands to control the spacecraft.
I would also love to add some how the space network plugin to it so it will be a "total immersion" MCC ;)

But anyway the idea of StefanE is good, and if people are willing to participate of course I will contribute :thumbup:
 

StefanE

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First of all thank you for your quick answers. I think it is important to get in touch with one another to keep this thread alive. BTW: why is it called a Mega Thread? Up to now it looks tiny to me.

@kamaz:

I think, you simply have a different approach:

You are asking "how", i am asking "what"

You are asking: what can be done with existing means, adding some programming to wrap things up. Fair enough! The chances that this will work, are greater than a top-down approach.

I am asking: What do we expect from a really satisfying MCC. From a MCC that lives up its name. I mean different tasks than piloting a spacecraft, not splitting the task between pilot and ground controller(s). The question "how" comes 2nd.

@fred18:

I will have a look at the space network plugin. Can you pls detail a bit what you mean with "total immersion" ?

@all: So lets continue this discussion, perhaps a few more opinions would be of value
 
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