Scouts BSA VR Astronauts on the ISS

Goal: Navigate the International Space Station to the Airlock and Cupola. 

•Working together, get to the Cupola. One person reads the map, the other person moves through the VR model. Once a Player has made it to their destination, they switch, and one person reads the Map, and the other person uses the VR headset to navigate to the Cupola.  •

•Background: Scouts will learn about the difficulties Astronauts have with navigating the International Space Station. Astronauts experience disorientation and vertigo in the ISS because there is no up and down. There is no true North either, so they must use Forward, Aft, Port, and Starboard.  

Question: How do you navigate with no reference to up or down, left or right, or true North?

1).Have Scouts scan barcode to bring up VR application. 

2.If the scout does not have a phone, Have STEM person at Table use their phone. Have everyone work in pairs. Groups of three are also fine for odd numbers.

3) Explain to them the challenge of navigating where there is no true North

•Show them

Forward, toward front of Spacecraft

Aft, toward Back of Spacecraft

Port, the Spacecrafts left ( Remember Port and Left have the same amount of letters)

Starboard, the Ship’s right 

•Show them the Map of the International Space Station. Show them all the parts


Kibo –(JPL)







Air Lock

4) Set your phone to use Google Cardboard. Scan QR Code below to see how to set up phone on Google Cardboard

Give one person the VR Goggles, (Google Cardboard.). Show them how to move in the VR environment by putting the dot on the target by moving everyone into the Columbia module.

5) Moving to the next component – •Show them how to move in the VR environment by putting the dot on the target by moving everyone into the Columbia module.

To move to next component, move your head to put small dot on Black Circle Target.

6) Once everyone is trained and has had a chance to move once in the Virtual Reality,

Give one person the VR Goggles, the other person the map.

If the person who has the map can bring up the ISS VR image on his phone without google cardboard and would like to use that too to see what the person with VR Goggles is looking at, that is fine too. 

7) Game

1.The person with the map guides the person with the VR Goggles from the Columbia Module to the Cupola Module.

2.When the person with the VR Goggles gets to the Cupola, show the STEM Person working the STEM table to verify they are at the Cupola. 

3.Have the Scouts discuss how to get around the inside of the ISS easier. 1.Look for ways NASA informs the astronauts what are the next components

Switch User

1.Have the Scouts switch their jobs. The new person with the map guides the person with the VR Goggles from the Cupola to the Air Lock with the same techniques as above.

2.Once the Scout is at the Air Lock, they are done.

3.If there is a third Person, have them use the VG Goggles to get to the Kibo Module. Discuss if they have an idea to make the getting around the inside of the ISS easier. Decide which other Scout will guide the Scouts with the VR Goggles.

Go-To Sources

Apollo 13’s Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise, a go-to source of mine, made an unusual statement on the Space Hipsters Facebook Live Event. He explained that he looked at Boeing’s Starliner telemetry data and said if there was a human on board, they could have monitored and made corrections to save the mission and dock with the International Space Station.  

I did some more research and found this from Darrell Etherington from Tech Crunch. “Bridenstine, (the Head of NASA,) also speculated that were NASA astronauts actually on board, they would “absolutely” have “been safe,” and that they probably could’ve assisted and overcome the automation error encountered via manual control to save the mission.”

I would argue the ground crew was unable to correct the orbit because there is too much data and too few humans to comprehend it all. We have no problem capturing data, we have a problem finding what is important within all this captured data. This is what I have spent the last 20 years working on and what you can use to find any piece of information on Spacecraft in one click, with the help of go-to sorces.

20 years ago I helped Airlines convert from paper to electronic information by writing a plan with steps to keep it up to data. One thing I did not count on is the amount of data that would be produced because of the ease of creating more information. I then pivoted from converting data to finding data. Years of testing with Airline Pilots helped me create documents with huge amounts of functionality.

With information literally doubling every year, I have used go-to sources as a way to find what Pilots need in one click and still be able to include new data. Because of this ability, I have turned e-books into hyper-efficient manuals based on images like the one below.

The testing with pilots was unbelievable, 9 times faster than current Aviation Information Systems. But what was really astonishing was when I tested it on space enthusiasts on the Apollo 11 Program. The same type of go-to sources model with the same format showed an unbelievable amount of use on the web site.

A web based prototype of the Apollo 11 Control Panels I created received a high number of hits and positive feedback on Facebook Apollo11Guide. Even on Twitter, @ShuttleGuide, not only did lots of likes, I received a like from Michael Collins. Frank Borman was asked if he liked the interactive poster I created and he told the EAA, “If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have Signed it!”

So if there is one take away you can learn from this article, it’s that search engines have so much data that doubles every year, that they cannot find what you need in a timely manner. If you want to get the correct information the first time every time, you need a one click strategy with go-to sources like the e-books below.

You are so far ahead of the industry that they won’t accept it

So I had a meeting with the person in charge of the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 757s and 767s. He gave me the best backhanded compliment for improving the Pound/Minute measure by a factor of 10. He smiled and told me “You are so far ahead of the industry that they won’t accept it.” I will share these secrets in this article.

He liked my idea of using images to increase the ability for pilots to absorb more information and links to get the correct answer the first time every time, but he thought right now his airline had bigger problems. I responded by saying my idea is just what they need because it could reduce dwell time on the ground by a factor of 9. (see Pilot Training Nine Times Faster – Think About That)

When I left his office, he did ask as an aside how my solution would work on an EICAS Message. I would like to think he liked my concept to reduce the Informational Footprint, but he had too many fires to put out. I did come with a concept for him in a week and sent him a video that was less than 30 seconds. I will show you on the Apollo 11 Interactive Virtual Exhibit how I did it and explain it in this article.

As I explain in previous articles, search engines are popularity contests for information. The more people who search on a topic and follow the path to the wrong answer, the more popular, or the better the confidence level, to the incorrect answer is ingrained into the internet.

The way to break out of this problem is to “instruct” the software to give the correct answer. This is done by finding the correct answer first and “teaching” the software so there is no question what the answer is. Think of being taught by your instructor as opposed to figuring it out for yourself. The best person in any skill is taught how to do it correctly, and that is what we need to do to the software.

Next, we must use the technology to make it quicker to find the correct answer the first time, every time. This is done using the linking and other abilities that the internet provides. This eliminates the need for a confidence level and, in turn, the need for search results. It literally makes Google obsolete. (See E-Manuals, The Disrupter of Google ?). This allows the internet to be 9 times faster than paper.

Next, we use images instead of words. Preliminary tests have shown this around 12 times faster. The reason why is human physiology. Our brains can grasp an image faster than symbols or words. This is the why the interactive poster was so well received. It is also why I was told “You are so far ahead of the industry that they won’t accept it.”

In the future, I will be creating and testing interactive virtual manual. I estimate it will be 20 times faster than paper and Google or any other search engine. This is not only because it is correct the first time, every time, but because it is one image that can cover the whole interior or exterior of an extraordinarily complex machine. I have created an interactive virtual manual for the Apollo 11 Command Module and you can see how easy it is to use at Apollo Spacecraft Intelligent Manual – Panoramic Edition ).

So that is nice, but why should the aerospace industry do this? It comes down to Money. According to DOT data, all costs for an aircraft on average comes to around $52 a minute. That includes crew, fuel, maintenance, and other variable costs. Now think of how it would reduce the lift per time, pound per minute calculation.

Example, last week we had a mechanical issue that cost us 40 minutes and at the end we had to come back to the gate. I would not have eliminated that issue, but I would have reduced it by a factor of 20. That would equate to 2 minutes instead of 40 minutes. That is a reduction in dwell time of 38 minutes.

If we take the time savings, 40 minus 2, that equates to 38 minutes. 38 times $52 comes to $1976. If those issues of dwell time happen each day, that comes to $721,240 a year. Not a bad savings.

The great thing is get to experiment. I let you see what I am working on at the World’s only Interactive Virtual Spacecraft Museum. Then I post the results of using the technology here. That’s why aerospace leader’s say “You are so far ahead of the industry that they won’t accept it.” But here you get to decide if I am too far ahead for you.

Free Beta Interactive Poster



My latest creation! An interactive poster of the Apollo Main Control Panel. You can print it out and put it on your wall. Then when someone sees it and asks you what the switches do, you can scan the QR codes with a smart device, pinch and zoom then click on the image to tell them! I made it to teach a STEM class on Spacecraft class so send it to all the teachers you know.


An E-Book that acts like a Web Page

An overview of the first spacecraft that took humans to the moon and back safely and still is the most powerful Rocket in the world. This e-book allows reader to get any piece of information on the basic components in one click. All information derived from the same NASA manuals used by Apollo Astronauts but in a format anyone can use.

This e-book is people who want answers on one of the most complex machines ever made in one click. The user only needs to find the image with the component of interest on it then click on it. This reduces the time from minutes or even hours down to a mere second. All this functionality is combined with the database used to train Astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to go to the Moon and come home safely.