Yurii Tiapchenko, deputy Chief Designer and head of the Division of Onboard Information Display Systems (1993-2002) at the Specialized Experimental Design Bureau of Spacecraft Technology. To the left: instrument board of the Vostok spacecraft
Information Display Systems for Russian Spacecraft: Generations III, IV and V
40 Years of Manned Space Flights: The Stages of Development and Characteristics of Information Display Systems for Russian Spacecraft by Yurii Tiapchenko (published as "40 let pilotiruemoi kosmonavtiki. Etapy razvitiia i osobennosti sistem otobrazheniia informatsii (SOI) otechestvennykh PKA," Problemy psikhologii i ergonomiki, no. 3 : 45-51)
Translated from the Russian by Slava Gerovitch
The third generation of information display systems (IDS) includes command-signal devices that use command-information compression of the second type. Figures above depict the structure of command-signal field and the structure of command-signal device. Such systems implement a compression of the information field of analog parameters; these systems include devices for information exchange with onboard computer systems and CRT television-type devices for video monitoring, which combines TV and measurement analog information. The main tools are multifunctional indicators based on vacuum tubes, and electroluminescent and plasma displays. An example of the third generation is Sirius information display systems for the Soyuz-7K, Soyuz M, and Soyuz A8 spacecraft and for the long-term orbital station Salyut. A typical Sirius IDS includes two command-signal devices, an instrument board, and two (left and right) finger controllers.
These systems implement the principle of programmed temporal monitoring and control. On the program control indicator panel (above), a pointer moves along the time line. When the pointer reaches the mark of a particular command or a signal, an indicator on the right would light up when this command is executed. If the indicator does not light up, the operator enters this command via the command-signal device and monitors its execution by observing the corresponding indicator on the program control indicator panel.
In the fourth generation of IDS, the most important role in presenting information to cosmonauts belongs to onboard computers and computer display systems. Examples of fourth-generation systems include IDS Neptun with display processor Simvol for the Soyuz T and the Soyuz TM spacecraft, control panel for the onboard computer complex DISK-1B of the Almaz complex, display systems of the STEK complex on the long-term orbital station MIR, and IDS Vega of the reusable spacecraft Buran.
The fifth generation of IDS is distinguished by the high degree of integration of means and methods of information display. Unlike the previous generation, fifth-generation IDS incorporate their own computer systems, video-processors, and graphics adapters. These systems begin to implement dialogue principles with the use of graphics, text, sound, and speech. Examples of fifth-generation IDS are information display systems for the utility module of the International Space Station Alpha, including an integrated control panel, and IDS Neptun-ME of the modernized spacecraft Soyuz TM.
Our analysis of the technical means and methods of information display in IDS for Russian spacecraft suggests that Russian engineers have pioneered the design and testing of the following innovative solutions:
One of the most important achievements is the transition to the computer and information technologies recently termed COTS-technologies. A major component of such systems if a human-computer interface. IDS based on COTS-technologies are installed on the utility module of the International Space Station and on the modernized space ship Soyuz-TMA. These systems open a new page in the development of ergatic control systems.
See also other articles by Yurii Tiapchenko:
site last updated 22 March 2003 by Slava Gerovitch