23 June 2000 Virtual cockpit window for the X-38 crew return vehicle
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Synthetic Vision has the potential to significantly improve the situation awareness for aircraft that do no possess windshields or windows. Windshields and windows add considerable weight, and risk to vehicle design. NASA's X-38 crew-return vehicle has a windowless cockpit design. Synthetic vision tools have been developed to provide a simulated real-time 3-D perspective to X-38 crews. This virtual cockpit window provides an all-weather, day/night situation awareness display, enriched with a wide variety of flight-related information. Already successfully demonstrated in several flight tests, this paper will discuss the challenges faced developing this system and the results of initial flight tests. While many different types of digital topography, maps, and imagery are available, seamlessly integrating the data requires new approaches not available in standard geometric information systems or flight simulation software. Since much of the data is in cylindrical geographic coordinates, and the computer display API works in Cartesian coordinates, selection of an efficient and accurate coordinate system is crucial. We will describe a new method of utilizing a multi-resolution digital topography database that provides high-resolution near-field performance (up to 1 meter) with a complete horizon model, yet retains excellent display speed. The LandForm FlightVision system employed for this purpose utilizes five different resolutions of digital topography, in order to model a flight from space to earth landing. Real-time situational awareness provided by the virtual cockpit window has been enhanced by the display of a dynamic landing rage model. This model incorporates vehicle flight characteristics and winds aloft information.
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Frank J. Delgado, Frank J. Delgado, Scott Altman, Scott Altman, Michael F. Abernathy, Michael F. Abernathy, Janis White, Janis White, } "Virtual cockpit window for the X-38 crew return vehicle", Proc. SPIE 4023, Enhanced and Synthetic Vision 2000, (23 June 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.389361; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.389361

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