ISS Simulator



A Virtual Reality Simulator for the ISS 

A summary of simulator features

  • Predict the telescope view from any point on Earth
  • Automatically predict flight mode (XVV or XPOP)
  • View close up from space or as seen through a telescope at your location 
  • Accurate Earth and all stars to 6th magnitude
  • Automatic or user adjustable panel angles 
  • Automatically select elements added for missions 5A, 4R, 7A and 8A depending on the date of the simulation
  • Include Progress at Zvezda aft port, Zaraya Nadir or Russian Airlock as required
  • Add the Shuttle and the MPLM

Screen shots from the Simulator program. Left a real solar panel  flare and adjacent the prediction 

To see more of what the simulator can do follow this link to compare the virtual telescope view and an actual video animation (select 07 June 2001 animation)

How to download the simulator

1. Get a Viewer 

The first thing you need for any VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) simulation is a viewer.  To find out if you have a viewer already visit this site (US National Institute for Standards and Technology).

The site contains links to download 3 free VRML viewers 

  • CosmoPlayer (3.4MB). This viewer was used to develop and test the simulations on these pages and is recommended
  • Cortona 3.1 (980kB). At least 1 simulator user has been successful with Cortona.
  • Blaxxon Contact. Not tested 

2. Download the Simulator Program 

Download the simulator files ISS Simulator Version 3.0 and unzip them into a directory of your choice  

3. Creating a Simulation  

  • One you have unzipped the simulator files and installed a viewer the first test is to run Internet Explorer and load shuttle.wrl (use file-open-browse). This should result in a simulated view of the orbiter seen from above. If this doesn't work the VRML viewer is not installed properly. 
  • Launch iss_main.html. 
  • The program has a help function, including a section on getting started, which should enable you to create an example simulation of the ISS over Manchester, England on 7th June 2001.  
  • If this doesn't work look at the file iss.wrl in Notepad or a similar program (a new version of this file is created every time the Run Simulation button is pressed). Look at the numbers and check that they are formatted properly. For example one thousand must be written 1000.0 not 1.000,0 or any similar variation. To correct this set your regional settings to English. 
  • Once the simulation is up and running move the cursor over the ISS until you see a star burst symbol, then click to start the animation. A screen shot of the control panel in Cosmoplayer is shown below. Here you can swap to different views using the drop down menu (1)  or zoom (2), or rotate (3), or pan (4). Cosmoplayer has html help screens. 
  • To create the view from anywhere in the world for a given pass you will need to know your latitude and longitude and the times of the pass in UTC as well as having the orbital elements for that date. All of this information can easily be obtained from Heavens Above.  



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