Emergent Awarded Contract for Modernization of NASA’s GMAT Visualization Capabilities

GREENBELT, MD (July 21, 2016) – Emergent Space Technologies, Inc. has been awarded a Phase II SBIR contract by NASA to modernize and improve the 3D visualization system for the General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) trajectory design and analysis software. Emergent and its subcontractor teammate, Thinking Systems, Inc. of Tucson, AZ (, have extensive experience in the design and development of GMAT’s software infrastructure and plugin components. Key software components developed by Emergent during this SBIR will be provided as Open Source Software to the GMAT community.

This 2-year software design and development effort will result in a full-featured 3D visualization plugin for GMAT, based on the OpenFrames visualization API, that enables advanced visualization-based mission design technologies. Immediate benefits to GMAT include faster simulation runtimes, a larger catalog of visualized objects, and an improved user interface. Long-term benefits include support for Virtual Reality (VR) and mobile computing environments, visual interaction with and manipulation of onscreen objects, and the ability to test optical navigation algorithms with closed-loop image processing.

Emergent will use the new visualization capabilities to demonstrate Visual Interactive Trajectory Design (VITD), which allows users to “grab and drag” trajectories and other onscreen objects. This VITD demo will also be shown on a VR platform such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which brings a never-before-seen level of immersion to trajectory design.

The VR work done here will allow Emergent to pursue visionary space design & analysis problems, including VR simulations of satellite servicing robotic arm algorithms and Augmented Reality (AR) visualizations of real-time spacecraft 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 technical services to the space industry.