LAUREL, MD (April 24, 2018) – The NASA SBIR program has awarded Emergent Space Technologies, Inc. a one-year Phase II-X SBIR contract extension to further advance its mission design and analysis visualization software. This award results from Emergent’s successful Phase II SBIR, and follow-on Phase III contracts through programs at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), that apply the OpenFrames framework to visualize novel NASA mission design and scientific analysis techniques. During the Phase II-X, Emergent will enhance OpenFrames with a wide variety of new capabilities, including all-new 3D user interfaces, accurate shadows, interactive 3D objects, efficient point cloud rendering, and significant performance improvements. As with the Phase II, key advancements made to OpenFrames during Phase II-X will be provided as Open Source Software.
Emergent used OpenFrames during its successful 2-year Phase II SBIR to develop a new full-featured 3D interactive visualization plugin for GMAT. The new OpenFramesInterface plugin was demonstrated to provide enhanced orbit visualizations and improved performance when compared to GMAT’s existing graphics. It also enables innovative mission design techniques such as Virtual Reality (VR) visualization and Visual Interactive Trajectory Design (VITD). Emergent implemented full VR support into the OpenFramesInterface plugin to allow users to visualize any GMAT mission on an OpenVR-compatible VR headset (e.g. HTC Vive or Oculus Rift). Emergent then demonstrated VITD by designing a Lunar free return trajectory within GMAT using nothing more than simple visual “click-and-drag” actions. This was a first-of-its-kind demonstration because it allows the end-user to use arbitrary GMAT dynamics models and paves the way for full VITD in a VR environment where users grab and move trajectories with their hands using natural gestures.
The new OpenFrames capabilities that Emergent will develop in Phase II-X will allow the company to pursue visionary Earth and space mission design & analysis problems, including VITD in VR, visualization of satellite servicing robotic arm algorithms, and Augmented Reality (AR) visualizations of real-time spacecraft sensor data (e.g. Lidar point clouds or camera feeds) for NASA’s future planetary and earth science missions. As VR technology evolves and becomes a fundamental part of the space industry’s toolset, Emergent’s research will ensure that it remains a leading provider of VR/AR technical services to the space industry.