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Canadian Space Agency

INDUSTRY

Aerospace

APPLICATION

Graphical User Interface

BENEFITS
  • Allows users to interact with GUIs identical to those on the International Space Station
  • Provides reliability, ease of programming, and sophisticated graphical capabilities
  • Offers a timely and cost-effective solution for updating an entire system to Linux
THE CHALLENGE

As a collaborator on the International Space Station, the Canadian Space Agency designed the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) component – most commonly known as the station’s robotic arm. This powerful device was used in the assembly of the station itself, and is now operated by astronauts and cosmonauts to move payloads, relocate astronauts performing spacewalks, capture free-flying objects, and help maintain the station.

Because of its complexity, the robotic arm requires intensive training before astronauts ever leave the ground – even mission control personnel must be fully trained. The CSA operates a ground training simulator to ensure all crew members’ training is fully up to date. For safety reasons, the simulator must be able to provide an exact replica of what it is like to operate the arm in space – reaction times, graphical feedback, and other details must correspond precisely.

THE SOLUTION

When the CSA was designing and preparing to deploy the MSS robotic arm, they chose Sammi to develop its GUIs onboard the space station. It was only natural to choose Sammi for the ground training simulator as well – using the same software provided the easiest way to replicate the user experience in space. And CSA programmers had already come to appreciate Sammi’s reliability, well-documented code, ease of programming and wide variety of widgets. Developers used Sammi to create more than 50 user interfaces for a variety of simulator programs that are still in use today.

In 2006, the CSA decided to transition the MSS ground training simulator from Unix to Linux. This move was designed to bring the department onto PCs – a much easier and cheaper option than the expensive SGI machines they had been using. CSA developers weighed the advantages of continuing with Sammi or choosing a new graphics program.

The CSA chose to update to the Linux-based version of Sammi – a choice that allowed them to save thousands of dollars and manhours, because all of the existing GUIs could easily be ported into the new version of Sammi. If they had moved to another software product, they would have had to recreate every user interface from scratch. But the transition to Sammi’s Linux product was pain-free. Because of Sammi, a project that could have taken months was completed in days.

Aerospace Corp. Spacelift Telemetry and Reporting System (STARS)

INDUSTRY

Aerospace

APPLICATION

Telemetry

BENEFITS
  • 130+ Displays Prototyped in Under a Month
  • Integrated to Main Application with Under 2K SLOC
  • Asynchronous API
THE CHALLENGE

The Aerospace Corporation developed the Spacelift Telemetry and Reporting System (STARS) to monitor and analyze real-time telemetry data during all phases of vehicle launch, from liftoff to mission end, for Air Force space operations. Among the many challenges presented for this ambitious project was to provide a graphical interface solution for the critical real-time data to be relayed from numerous sources. The solution needed not only to react to and reflect real-time data, but also provide an all around time effective solution in both the building of interfaces and implementation with the STARS application.

THE SOLUTION

The Sammi Application Development Kit (ADK) Format Editor enabled users in the STARS program to build over 130 custom displays for the prototype of the system in less than a month. Displays are built without performing any programming and without compiling any graphics code, making use of the Format Editor simple for any user who has no programming knowledge. As a result, end users developed most of the 130 plus displays without help from programmers.

Sammi provides a Runtime environment has networking built-in. This means that no networking code needed to be written for the STARS application in order to display Sammi graphical displays across a network of distributed operating systems. In fact, Aerospace Corp. reported that it took less than 2,000 source lines of code (SLOC) to integrate Sammi into the core application.

The Sammi Applications Programming Interface (API) is asynchronous, which means that either the Sammi Runtime or an application supplying data can initiate communication with the other, and the sender does not have to wait for a response from the receiver. The sender assumes the receiver will act on the request, so no pause to wait for a response or indication that the message was received is necessary. The asynchronous relationship permits the application to request data updates whenever a change is required rather than at pre-defined intervals. The STARS program utilizes this unique architecture in processing data from multiple outside applications.

Johns Hopkins University Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) Bloomberg Center for Physics & Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University

INDUSTRY

Aerospace

APPLICATION

Satellite Command & Control

BENEFITS
  • Proven COTS software
  • Easy-to-use solution
  • Task Scheduler
THE CHALLENGE

NASA, in cooperation with the Canadian and French space agencies and operated by Johns Hopkins University, developed the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) as a telescope project for viewing the universe using non-visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum. FUSE looks at light in the far ultraviolet portion of the electromagnetic spectrum previously unobservable using other telescopes. Launched in 1999, the FUSE mission continues operations to explore the far reaches of the universe, seeking to answer questions of origin and space anomalies we know little about.

The FUSE satellite consists of two sections: the spacecraft and the scientific instruments. Control of the FUSE spacecraft is a particularly tedious operation considering the nature of its mission. The telescopic instruments must not only be directed correctly to the area of space to be studied, but solar panels must be realigned regularly to assure consistent charge of batteries, and adjustments must be made to account for "gravity gradient" torques on the satellite.

THE SOLUTION

The Sammi Application Development Kit (ADK) is used by the FUSE project as the graphical interface for mission critical command and control. As a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, Sammi has proven the best option for graphical interface display in other NASA projects such as Mission Command Central (MCC), international space station operations, astronaut training simulations, the ASIST project and others. With international organizations on board such as the Canadian and French space agencies, the graphical interface solution must be easy to use for all parties involved. With Sammi’s Task Scheduler users can set actions to take place automatically, such as the printing of a report or the start of a process. The task scheduler can be set to run a task for all users who log in, or customized on a user by user basis, thus adding the flexibility needed for a multi-user project such as FUSE.

Sammi® is a registered trademark of Kinesix Software.

NASA Langley Research Center National Transonic Facility – Hampton, VA

INDUSTRY

Aerospace

APPLICATION

Wind Tunnel Testing

BENEFITS
  • Provides a flexible solution for a complex and critical system
  • Allows real-time reflection of high volumes of data
  • Gives users the capability to create GUIs without programming experience
THE CHALLENGE

NASA’s Langley Research Center houses more than 20 wind tunnels used to test the aerodynamics of existing and prototype aircraft models. The National Transonic Facility is one of Langley’s most advanced tunnels. In this tunnel, liquid nitrogen is injected and evaporated into a gas that is accelerated through the tunnel's test section at speeds up to 1.2 times the speed of sound. The low temperatures increase the density and decrease the viscosity of the atmosphere and, thus, simulate full-scale flight conditions at transonic speeds with great accuracy.

Wind tunnels such as the National Transonic Facility are vitally important to modern flight and space travel. No aircraft or spacecraft is built today until its design and components have been thoroughly tested in a tunnel. From the high volume of data gathered in wind tunnel studies, engineers can determine the behavior of an aircraft or its components at takeoff, while cruising, and during descent and landing. Therefore, it is crucial that the data from these studies can be clearly and accurately interpreted.

THE SOLUTION

In 1993, NASA initiated a project to move the National Transonic Facility beyond its outdated, menu-driven user interfaces. The Langley Research Center searched for a product that could be thoroughly built into the data acquisition platform at the facility, as well as used for plotting capabilities.

After an industry-wide survey, the Langley team chose Sammi as the graphical solution for the National Transonic Facility. Sammi met Langley’s specific needs – flexibility, real-time data reflection, reliability, and the capability for users without programming experience to build their own interfaces and displays. Another factor in Langley’s decision was a strong recommendation from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which already used Sammi in Mission Control.

Langley Research Center implemented Sammi throughout the National Transonic Facility, where it is used on a continuous basis. Everyone who uses the facility uses graphical interfaces and data plots developed with Sammi. In fact, Langley was so pleased that it recommended Sammi to the Marshall Space Flight Center, when they undertook a similar revamping of their systems.

Sammi® is a registered trademark of Kinesix Software.

“We chose Sammi because it met our specific needs -- flexibility, and the capability for users to build their own types of displays without having to program." Frank Batts Langley Engineer

NASA Advanced Spacecraft Integration & System Test Software (ASIST) Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

INDUSTRY

Aerospace

APPLICATION

Command & Control

BENEFITS
  • Real-time displays
  • Distributed, scalable workstation-based architecture
  • Rapid Prototyping
THE CHALLENGE

NASA’s Goddard Flight Center is one of the space agency’s primary facilities for satellite operations, which means data – lots and lots of data. In fact, mission teams at Goddard regularly work with terabytes of data from multiple satellite missions. To interpret this data, Goddard relies on a system known as ASIST, which is short for Advanced Spacecraft Integration and System Test Software.

ASIST processes ground-system data for a variety of satellites and also interprets telemetry from a satellite after it has launched. In its initial form, ASIST ran on a Unix platform, lacking any visuals or graphical displays. For mission workers, reading text without a graphical-user interface was a long and arduous task – one that left tremendous room for error.

THE SOLUTION

NASA knew it needed to create a better user interface for ASIST. It needed a software solutions that would provide sophisticated graphical capabilities, and which could also be networked across multiple workstations on the ground. That’s when the company turned to Kinesix Software, a Houston-based software provider that combines the best capabilities of HMI software, SCADA software and GUI software into a single solution.

Kinesix’s flagship product, Sammi, was ideal for NASA’s needs. Sammi’s ease-of-use and low maintenance, for example, made it perfect addition to ASIST. For example, he software’s graphical display builder requires no programming skills or compilation of graphics codes. With Sammi as part of ASIST, telemetry and spacecraft display changes now take place with a simple click.

Sammi’s user-friendly command-and-control ability enables ground crew to send specific instruction to spacecraft equipment, allowing for someone on Earth to turn instruments on or off, or even send equipment into a different mode. In addition, the solution permits NASA to build, display, and manage massive volumes of streaming telemetry data packets from the spacecraft, including flight data and scientific/research data that has been accumulated on board the spacecraft. What’s more, it does all of this through realtime custom-built graphics that include pie-charts, graphs, and simple-to-read X&Y charts.

Now, at any one time, ASIST can handle numerous computer processes, all running parallel. With Sammi, NASA’s spacecraft data is automatically transformed from complex text to colorful graphical displays.

What’s more, Sammi and ASIST will be an integral component in many future satellite missions, including NASA’s new solar dynamic observatory – scheduled for launch in 2008. On the solar observatory mission, Sammi will provide color pie charts and graphs allowing ground workers to monitor the observatory at work. Because the charts can dynamically change colors, they will allow workers to maintain better command-and-control of all systems.

The bottom line is clear: Kinesix has provided Goddard with results that can only be described as out of this world.

Sammi® is a registered trademark of Kinesix Software.

“Sammi has played an integral role in how our ASIST software reads data. Sammi’s real-time command and control system means workstations on the ground remain updated at all times through sophisticated graphics. The scalability of the solution means Sammi can reliably handle as much or as little data that is thrown its way." Edwin Fung, NASA Engineer

“Because of its ease-of-use and sophisticated graphics, Sammi enables our workstations on the ground to effortlessly process telemetry from our satellites in space. We never have to worry about whether or not the data is current, Sammi's command and control system ensures that we are always communicating with the satellite in real-time. In addition, Sammi's sophisticated graphics make the data easy to read and understand.” Edwin Fung, NASA Engineer

Lockheed Martin Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Boulder, CO

INDUSTRY

Aerospace

APPLICATION

Satellite Command & Control

BENEFITS
  • Cross-platform portability
  • Multiple Security Levels
  • Automatic Failover/Redundancy
THE CHALLENGE

The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) is the next-generation missile warning system that will also provide greatly expanded capabilities for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. SBIRS consists of three individual space constellations and an evolving ground element: The Defense Support Program (DSP), SBIRS High, and the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS). The program supports four mission areas: Missile Warning, Missile Defense, Technical Intelligence, and Battlespace Characterization. SBIRS is one of Air Force Space Command’s highest priority space systems.

THE SOLUTION

The Sammi Application Development Kit (ADK) features a Runtime Environment (RTE) with cross-platform portability that can manage incoming data from all types of platforms within a network at once. Regardless of the originating platform within the network, be it Microsoft, IBM, Linux, HP, Sun, or any other type, the Runtime manages the data quickly and efficiently without needing any special upgrades or plug-ins. The scope of the SBIRS program requires a solution that can manage incoming data from several different originating applications, such as the Sammi Runtime.

SBIRS is a highly proprietary system that requires security at several levels of the application. The Sammi Runtime supplies multiple security levels that can limit access to displays, applications, or even the viewing of particular dynamic objects. Thus, a display’s security level may be set so that all users can view the display, while only some users may view particular dynamic objects or have access to particular controls.

The SBIRS program encompasses several sub-elements, all with mission critical data that needs assurance of delivery, even in event of an application failure. Sammi's multi-process architecture allows for remarkably reliable "failover" capabilities. If a server or application fails, the functionality is automatically assumed by backup servers or applications. This results in a more reliable and functional system that is quick to recover from outside failures, while remaining transparent to the user. SBIRS values Sammi’s failover features for the critical work it performs on a daily basis for several sub-systems.

Sammi® is a registered trademark of Kinesix Software.

NASA Mission Control Center (MCC) Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

INDUSTRY

Aerospace

APPLICATION

Command & Control

BENEFITS
  • Real-time displays
  • Built-in Networking
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • No Programming Required
THE CHALLENGE

NASA’s Mission Control Center (MCC) at Johnson Space Center is the heart of operations for space shuttle and international space station missions. Mission critical data streams for numerous shuttle systems and operations are relayed to MCC that require immediate interpretation and response. Graphical interfaces provided for this data must be easy and quick to build, quick to prototype, and require simple deployment across a network. Custom development for these interfaces would be difficult and time consuming to accomplish, and require many development specialists. Any commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution provided must be proven, and require no specially trained personnel to use for the multiple systems that will implement the application.

THE SOLUTION

Since 1996, Kinesix has supplied the software that runs 90 percent of the graphical displays for MCC at Johnson Space Center. The Sammi Application Development Kit (ADK) enables mission control for the space shuttle and international space station programs to easily build graphical interfaces for viewing complex live data streams.

In order to avoid the arduous process of developing in-house graphical display applications to process MCC’s continuous data streams, NASA decided Sammi was an ideal solution as a readily available COTS application to handle the responsibility of turning complex data into graphical interfaces. Sammi is a rapid application development tool, enabling MCC to quickly develop graphical interfaces, map data sources, and view the resulting data in order to efficiently manage one of the most complex and precision dependant compilations of live data streams in the world.

Part of what makes Sammi such a useful tool is its cross-platform architecture that allows the same information to be viewed on a network that is utilizing many different operating systems and hardware configurations. Command and control operations can be viewed by any workstation running Sammi on the network.

Sammi® is a registered trademark of Kinesix Software.