ESA astronauts are launched into orbit with interactive 3D eLearning from Cortona3D

19 February 2008

Visual Know-How tool will save time and mistakes in an environment where errors cost lives

Days before the launch of the first ATV 'Jules Verne' into orbit, Cortona3D, the global leader in interactive 3D visual communication for Equipment Maintenance & Training, announced that its cutting-edge software is that chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) for spacecraft crew and astronauts training of the ATV. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is a fleet of 20-tonne space transport vehicles used to bring fresh food, clothes, water, fuel, experiments, and oxygen to keep the International Space Station (ISS) and its residents alive. With complex operational procedures, the challenge was to keep the astronauts’ skills and knowledge at a high level up to 1 year after receiving the initial training.

Cortona3D RapidLearning software from Cortona3D was used by astronaut instructors to create animated 3D simulations showing step-by-step procedures with new levels of detail and interactivity. The software teaches astronauts complex tasks prior to manipulating real equipment and enables them to practice these procedures learned at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), on their laptops over and over again, even in orbit.

“The interactive learning tool has proven to be a big hit with astronauts and cosmonauts alike! When you impress an astronaut, you know you have done something really special,” pointed out the head of ATV training at EAC, Richard Moss. “Astronauts recognize the help Cortona3Ds’ interactive ‘Visual Know-How’ tool will give them. It will save time and mistakes, in an environment where errors cost lives. The current crew have already received training using the interactive animated lessons created in Cortona3D RapidLearning and will refresh their skills again and again during a series of onboard sessions on the space station computer after launching into orbit.”

“Research shows that the interactive 3D element improves comprehension, retention, and on-the-job performance, particularly in the operation of complex machinery or systems,“ said Connell Gallagher, President of Cortona3D. "Following several large-scale deployments over a six-year period in the European Space Agency, we are delighted that Cortona3D ‘Visual Know-How’ software now has a proven track record in driving quality-critical training of space crews and astronauts as well as improving technical documentation and logistic and support processes.”

Cortona3D RapidLearning is a powerful authoring tool for building 3D-powered Computer Based Training (CBT) and requires no special programming expertise. RapidLearning guides trainers through the production process, prompting them to illustrate each step of the training scenario with an easily created 3D animation to build a complete RapidLearning procedure/lesson. The output is an animated interactive 3D training simulation that contains several training modes (demo, study, and exam) and is usable as a standalone application or integrated with any SCORM-compliant Learning Management Systems (LMS).

And what for the future? “There are not that many astronauts in the world and they form a tight community. Already the word has spread and there is a great interest to copy the success of what the European Astronaut Centre instructors and Cortona3D engineers have produced,” said Richard Moss, head of ATV training with the ESA.

As the space community looks forward to a return to the Moon and sending humans to Mars, it is clear that interactive 3D learning tools such as that created by Cortona3D RapidLearning from Cortona3D will be critical in maintaining the success of such dangerous missions.

About the first ATV – The Jules Verne

Europe’s first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) – the Jules Verne, a supply ship is due to launch on March 8th, 2008, and is expected to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) around 18 days later. This fleet of 20-tonne space transport vehicles used to bring fresh food, clothes, water, fuel, experiments, and oxygen to keep the ISS and its residents alive is the result of more than $1.3billion of development. The Jules Verne will dock and stay attached to the station (ISS) until August, while its cargo is unpacked by astronauts’ delicate maneuvers and waste from the station is loaded, before becoming detached to fall into the Pacific ocean.

The real-life of a modern astronaut involves 3 to 5 years of intensive training all over the globe before arrival on the International Space Station (ISS). Then this $100billion outpost in space will be home for 6 months. The information and expertise that an astronaut requires are vast and constantly being expanded and updated so their training requirement is demanding and non-stop. Repetition and interaction with the equipment (either real or virtual) are important to maintain skill level. Dynamic update as equipment evolves is essential; it even continues on-orbit.

For more information about the project

ESA website →

ESA Case Study →

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