How NASA uses virtual reality to train astronauts

Angelica Garcia, simulation and software engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) gave a presentation Sept. 24 in the Mission Briefing Center on NASA’s work in virtual reality and simulations. This engaging talk was free with general admission.

Garcia works in the Virtual Reality Laboratory training facility at JSC where astronauts complete system rescue scenarios with Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER). SAFER is essentially a “life jacket” for spacewalks that looks similar to a jet pack.

The Virtual Reality Laboratory (VRL) is an immersive training facility that provides real time graphics and motion simulators integrated with a tendon-driven robotic device to provide the kinesthetic sensation of the mass and inertia characteristics of any large object (<500lb) being handled. In the Virtual Reality Lab, Garcia also trains astronauts with mass handling and robotics operations. The lab is also the home of the Dynamic Onboard Ubiquitous Graphics, the software used throughout JSC for multiple simulation systems. Here is a video of DOUG in action:

Garcia studied aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and modeling and simulation at the University of Central Florida.