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BURAN Orbital

Spaceship Airframe


Information and Controls Display System of BURAN

Reusable Orbital Spaceship

Dr. Mushkarev Yu.G.
The paper contains brief information necessary for integrated understanding of information and controls display system (ICDS), as well as of problems which arose at designing, principles used by engineers for solving these problems, design and development stages, and tests results.

ICDS is one of the major onboard systems, and its creation is a very serious problem for any type of flying vehicles. Especially complicated the task appeared for the then unknown reusable orbiter of BURAN type. The experience of designing, manufacturing and tests of a single-seat SPIRAL orbital plane available at the enterprise was very useful. Performance specification of BURAN spaceship has formed the following features, which were necessary to take into account in designing ICDS.

1. Impossibility of building the display system according to a conventional principle: ‘transducer – converter – indicator’ and ‘control – converter – actuating mechanism’. A logical component had to appear between the sources of control actions (pilot – mission plan – command radio link) and actuator.

2. Necessity to arrange the functions between automatic control unit and man rationally and thus to ensure the following control modes:

  • automatic;
  • manual;
  • mixed (automated);
  • transitions from one mode to another, and also to determine volumes of data support and control actions in each of modes with allowance for emergencies and depth of the control of the onboard systems condition.

3. Working conditions of the crew at BURAN Orbiter considerably differ from working conditions at airplanes of any types:

  • windows triple glass pane degrades the view of external space beyond the cockpit (cabin);
  • space suit glazing limits the view of internal space at work places;
  • it is necessary to work wearing a pressurized space suit in a depressurized cabin during the orbital stage of flight (in abnormal situation), in conditions of weightlessness, i.e. unsupported disorienting space;
  • at the launch stage, vertical start, a seat is as if ‘on the wall’ and the seat-back is elevated up (forwards along the centerline of the plane) and forms a ‘chaise-long’, providing the direction of g-load along ‘breast-back’ line;
  • at the descent and landing stage, pilot works in a seat installed ‘aircraft-like’, while the direction of g-loads is arranged along ‘head-pelvis’, wearing a pressurized space suit in a depressurized cabin (in abnormal situation) after the action of weightlessness;
  • at all stages of flight, pilot has to work in a rigidly fixed (attached to the seat) position.

4. At all stages of flight, the crew is in a limited close space for a long time.
At a stage of definition of BURAN appearance and development of general-arrangement diagrams, the basis of the system design was defined by the requirements of the operating at that period of time state and branch standards, and normative technical documents of the customer. During the study it became obvious that the capabilities of these documents usage in designing ICDS are limited, since they did not take into consideration the whole specificity of the set tasks and conditions of crews operation characterized by high nervous and emotional intensity.

Then a number of principles, which made the basis of a new approach to system designing, were formulated. The mains of these principles are listed below.

1. Organization of pilot’s informational and control environment should provide:

  • processing of the array of an informational control flow with the purpose of its displaying to the crew in a form convenient for perception;
  • correspondence of the informational control flow to a ‘through-put’ capability of the pilot;
  • display of minimum necessary information content sufficient for instantaneous actuation of the pilot into the control procedure in standard, abnormal and emergency situations (limitation of information content of notifying character in combination with ‘silent display board’);
  • possibility of permanent control of a situation with the necessary degree of depth;
  • possibility of systems reconfiguration in interactive (automated) and operating (manual) control modes;
  • possibility of instantaneous crew entering into a manual control mode through a separate channel or all channels.

2. Principles of safety:

  • at normal systems operation the crew should only have the integral information displayed in a volume, sufficient for situation estimation, prognosis the development of process and instantaneous actuation of crew into activity;
  • types of indicators and their arrangement should provide perception of visual information without overstressing the organs of sight;
  • signaling system should output signals on abnormal operation of systems accompanied with strongly attracting effects;
  • insufficiency of external beyond the cockpit space view should be compensated with instrumental means;
  • control layout and means of indication should be made with allowance for limitations determined by the space suit and device of pilot fixing;
  • interior should visually create a psychologically customary aircraft cabin and sensation of ‘top – bottom’ direction;
  • work places should provide the best endurance of g-loads and exclude unscheduled pilot’s movements and drift at accomplishment of dynamic operations;
  • details of interior should exclude sharp corners, edges and presence of electrical contact;
  • materials used in the system should be explosion- and combustible-safe, not to initiate or support combustion, not to discharge substances harmful for the crew.

3. Principles of motion saving:

  • controls should be arranged on consoles, panels and instrument boards within the handling range with allowance for the pilot’s work in a pressurized and attached space suit at the appropriate stages of the flight;
  • controls requiring considerable efforts at work in a pressurized space suit, should be placed in the planes formed by a shoulder and a forearm of hands, bent in elbows;
  • planes of controls motion in ‘towards pilot - from oneself’ direction should be parallel to the plane of symmetry of seat which reduces hands fatigue at work in a pressurized space suit;
  • at use of a control, motion of finger instead of palm and palm instead of hand is preferable;
  • controls should be used at work on consoles, panels, instrument boards of work places which require one elementary motion.

The formulated principles have proved to be universal for any type of reusable orbital planes and were used in designing ICDS for MAKS system.

On the basis of standards, normative-technical documents and mentioned principles the technical specifications (TS) of ICDS complexes and subsystems, general operational requirements (GOR), general ergonomic requirements (GER), individual technical requirements (ITR) of separate complete sets of ICDS complexes, layout and general functional schemes of complexes were designed, coordinated and approved. Researches of ideas and solutions correctness included in ICDS designing were conducted in two parallel inter-correlating directions:

  • technical and ergonomic working-out on Pilot-35 stand at Training Center named after Yu.A. Gagarin, Piloting Dynamic Stand for Training (PDST) and Full Scale Stand of Equipment (FSSE);
  • operational and ergonomic working-out of the system included in a structure of equipment of two TU-154 Flying Laboratories planes and BURAN Analogue - OK-ML2-GLI.

The diagrams of range of sensor-motor fields, condition of habitation in work places, methods of sitting down to work places and their leaving, convenience of onboard systems control in abnormal and emergency situations were developed, methodical instructions to crews were worked out in the following conditions:

  • in conditions of flight simulation on the stands in real time in stationary (Pilot-35) or rotated cabin (PDST);
  • on a standard onboard equipment with actual hinge moments of control systems (FSSE).

The necessary volumes of an informational control flow in conditions of normal activity of systems, in abnormal and emergency situations, diagrams of external and internal views were determined.

Simultaneously with this, the research design works were performed with the following purposes:

  • to achieve the greatest possible comfort on work places for the pilots;
  • to make up the view diagram of external beyond the cockpit space deficiency.

The detail study of spatial organization of work places showed that comfortable working conditions for crew could be created by a certain tilting and turn of instrumental board panels and consoles relative to the pilot’s sight direction. As a result of studies, it was determined that the best conditions are created at such angles of turn and tilting of panels surfaces, which values constitute the basic mathematical Fibonacci series or are close to them, for example, 13-15o, 19-23o, 33-35o, 51-53o. It was confirmed by the outcomes of experts’ estimation and ergonomic calculations conducted by the laboratory of the 9th branch of Flight Research Institute named after M.M. Gromov on the work places, made according to this principle in the cockpits for Pilot-35 stand.

The idea to do without a triple glass pane for panoramic window, which was degrading the view of external space and had a considerable mass, demanded the working-out the system of beyond the cockpit space visualization.

The television system intended for the reception and transmission of external beyond the cockpit space image was worked-out, manufactured in a mock-up construction and tested on PDST stand within the structure of Adonis system. Five landings were executed with the help of this system: two were made in automatic mode, ‘outside’ and three – in manual mode, ‘set-off’. At that, the nominal system of terrain mock-up mapping was switched-off, and operator executed landings on the basis of television image displayed on the screen, without having an opportunity to correct himself by view in a window. The studies showed that the system could be built on the modern element base both in monocular version displaying the space in a pseudo-three-dimensional form and in binocular version giving a three-dimensional display. Besides, the system is easy in application to the advanced atmospheric and space flying vehicles.

However, not all the ideas explained in the formulated above principles were implemented in ICDS of BURAN. In particular, it was not possible properly to duly optimize the volume and ways of information display, structure of indication means and their arrangement in the space of pilots’ work places, to improve the ergonomic characteristics of the elements applied in the system: buttons, switches, warning devices, indicators. It weren’t implemented on BURAN the comfortable scheme of consoles and television system for the view of external beyond-the-cockpit space. The all ideas check and working-out requires a wide-scale simulation and mock-up building, engaging the specialists of different specialization, but financing is restricted and the process of ideas’ generation is perpetual.

The design and construction errors have been revealed and the scope of complexes updating has been determined and accomplished as a result of the BURAN crews training. At these tests the crew was included in structure of simulating stands in conditions, enough approximated to actual, taking into account the ‘price’ of psycho-physiologic expenditures. These studies were continued by the crew training on TU-154 Flying Laboratories and OK-ML2-GLI Analogue.

Design Structure of System

The information display system consists of 17M27, 17M28, 17M29 complexes and 17M212 device.

An instrument panel (IP) with electromechanical and electronic means of indication, left, right and central control consoles (LC, RC and CC) with controls, and also upper panel (UP) with means of the onboard systems state signaling system are included in the structure of 17M27 complex. In combination with mechanical aircraft controls, control handles and units of interior, the orbital complex forms a Work Place for the crew commander and co-pilot (WP1,2) for fulfillment the operations of control at stages of start, injection into an orbit, orbital flight, far approach to the orbital object, de-orbiting, flight in atmosphere and landing.

The console of flight engineer (CFE) with electromechanical and electronic means of indication, means of onboard systems’ state signaling system and controls are included in the structure of 17M28 complex. In combination with the elements of interior, the complex forms a work place of the flight engineer (WP3) for implementation of appropriate functions at all stages of flight.

The commander’s orbital console (COC) with electromechanical and electronic means of indication, means of signaling system and control is included in the structure of 17M29 complex. In combination with control handles and units of interior the orbital complex forms the commander’s orbital work place (WP4) for fulfillment the operations of mooring and docking with orbital objects.

17M212 device is a console of habitation module (CHM), which is intended for supplying parameters of time (current, flight, etc.) to the crew, signaling about abnormal situations and crashes, communication call, etc.

Equipment intended for data support, commutation, and complexes interface to onboard systems is placed in the space of instrument modules in the cabin.

The basic contribution into the ICDS creation was made by talented engineers and system analysts from NPO MOLNIYA: Mr.: Turkin Ye.L., Taits V.A., Zhukov L.V., Abushkin B.M., Rodin V.B., Mrs.: Burlakova T.Ye., Zakharova L.I., Mr. Larchenko P.F. under the direction and with direct participation of Dr. Balashov M.P., Mr. Karimov A.G. and Dr. Mushkarev Yu.G., employees from NIIAO Mr.: Tyapchenko Yu.A., Zonabend F.M., Kovylov A.N., Alexandrov Yu.F., Shitov V.M., Savenkov V.N., Belkov A.V.; employees from LNPOE Mr.: Mikhailov V.V., Ushakov G.S., Nazarchuk G.N., Ilyichenko Yu.A., employees from LII named after M.M. Gromov pilots-cosmonauts Volk I.P., Levchenko A.S., test pilots Stankyavichus R.A. and Schukin A.N.; employees from NPO ENERGIA Mr.: Noskin G.V., Yakovlev V.A., pilots-cosmonauts Ivanchenkov A.S., Laveikin A.I. Scientific & Research Institute of Aircraft Equipment (Chief Designer Borodin S.A., Deputy Chief Designers Marchenko S.T. and Konarev V.P.) and Leningrad Research and Production Association ELECTROAVTOMATIKA (Chief Designer Suslov V.D.) have designed and put into production the design documentation and manufactured the necessary amount of complete sets of the system.

Brief Analysis of Test Results

The complexes’ tests were conducted independently and in a structure of flying objects in two stages:

  • under the program of horizontal flight tests on the basis of NPO MOLNIYA, LNPO ELECTROAVTOMATIKA, NIIAO and LII named after M.M. Gromov enterprises;
  • under the program of orbital flights on stand base of NPO ENERGIA, NPO AP and partially NPO MOLNIYA.

The purpose of tests was:
1. Toc confirm the technical ideas, ergonomic solutions and crew ability to accomplish the algorithm of activity.
2. To define the complexes’ compatibility with BURAN onboard systems for electrical communications, signals of information exchange, interference, dimensioning and design data.
3. To determine the accuracy characteristics of information exchange channels.
4. To determine the complexes’ compatibility at their operation in conditions maximum approximated to the actual ones, and with simulation of the different influencing factors.
5. Verifying the maintainability and operation of complexes, vehicles and their components.
6. Verifying the entirety of the operational documentation on complexes of the vehicle.

The analysis of test results has shown that the main difficulty at creation the display system is connected rather with ergonomic support and working-out, than with technical and system software. These have needed a set of organizational and technical actions on registration psychological and physical features of the man-operator with the purpose of his activity optimization. Anthropocentric principle of designing Information Display System (IDS), when the maintenance of the best conditions for the pilot’s operation is taken as the basis, is still of primary significance. However, the process of pilot’s enabling in the control loop of ‘man-machine’ system as the optimum regulator is now the least studied mainly because the quantitative interrelation between psycho-physiologic state and characteristics of the solved task, object of control, environment, etc. is not yet defined.

The methodology of IDS mathematical designing is not created, which basis is not the analysis of IDS structure or its arrangement, but formation of such a informational-control array, for which the time of interaction of man-IDS link in the man-machine system would be the least.

The software for the tasks of IDS designing and optimization was developed as program modules:

  • model of pilot’s control operation as the optimum regulator;
  • model of switching pilot’s attention;
  • model of priorities at reading information;
  • model of errors at reading information.

This software in combination with the program modules of onboard systems and flying-tactical characteristics of a flying vehicle allows solving the tasks of IDS designing in the automated mode already on early development stages.

The rapid development of technology and applied science allows assuming that ICDS development will most probably occur in the direction of virtual systems: 1. Development of computer technology goes on along the path of increase of response, information and intellectual capacity, mass decrease and energy saving.
2. Small-size video-sensors are designed and widely applied on the basis of PZS-matrixes permitting to construct computer vision systems, which are capable to provide the all-around view of space over a full sphere.
3. Speech systems of interactions incorporating instrumentation providing analysis and synthesis of human speech have been designed and received further development.
4. A spatial head brain map is created; its centers perceiving information, and also working out control pulses are determined. The application of a special flying helmet with a system of built-in encephalic-sensors is possible.
5. Biological sensors (so-called measuring biological converters), which are devices perceiving particular parameters of biological objects processes are under development.

The experience accumulated at the enterprise on designing ICDS under SPIRAL and BURAN projects, has a great value and will be set in the basis of creation of similar systems for perspective reusable orbit airplanes of MAKS type.

The past years have only even more brightly highlighted the events connected with BURAN automatic landing, which was never repeated anywhere in the world as of today. But the life forces to go forwards. Undoubtedly, the engineers, scientists and workers will have to reach their own heights – design and construction of new systems and machines. We wish that life will present them such an opportunity.