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Tiapchenko, Information Display Systems for Russian Spacecraft: An Overview

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Yurii Tiapchenko 

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: An Overview

compiled from

Compiled and translated from the Russian by Slava Gerovitch

Specialized Experimental Design Bureau of Spacecraft TechnologyThe Specialized Experimental Design Bureau of Spacecraft Technology (SOKB KT) is the leading organization in the field of design, implementation, and support of the following crucial components of spacecraft technology:

  • systems and devices for information display and manual control of spacecraft ("cosmonauts' control panels"); and
  • simulators and training stands for crew training and preparation for space flights.

The history of SOKB KT NIIAO begins in 1957, when Laboratory 47 with the staff of 30 was formed within a branch of the Flight Research Institute (LII) of the USSR Ministry of Aviation Industry. This laboratory was headed by Sergei Grigor'evich Darevskii, Ph.D. in engineering, an energetic and competent specialist. In this branch of industry, this laboratory was one of the leading organizations in the field of aviation ergonomics. This laboratory designed instrument boards for various types of aircraft, put forward proposals for representing flight parameters on multi-function CRT indicators, and developed the concept of a unified instrument panel for an interceptor.

Engineers of Laboratory 47 were particularly interested in the design of the piloted spacecraft Vostok developed under the guidance of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. One of the most complex problems facing the designers of the spacecraft was the creation of a control system. Among the most important components of this system was a complex of devices for manual control and means of displaying information about the condition of all onboard systems that was necessary for making control decisions.

In early 1960 Korolev asked Darevskii's laboratory to design this complex, since they had already had some experience with this type of systems. Less than a year remained before the first manned flight. Despite facing this tight deadline, laboratory specialists took on this project with great enthusiasm. The young engineers E.N. Nosov, S.T. Marchenko, G.S. Makarov, and D.N. Lavrov played a leading role in this project.

A decision was made to design a unified indicator complex that would include a set of multi-arrow indicators, a re-entry regime control device (combined with a clock), an indicator of the current location and the projected landing location (the Globe), and so on.

The instrument board consisted of a single unit connected to the control system and to the telemetry system. The control panel was designed in a similar way. The control panel and the board with temperature and pressure indicators were connected to each other and comprised a system called "the Cosmonaut's panel," or SIS-1-3KA.

Control panel and instrument board on the Vostok spacecraft

Control panel and instrument board on the Vostok spacecraft: Compare to the Mercury instrument panel

The construction of a unified instrument board and control panel complex facilitated a rational layout of various onboard systems. This approach was upheld in subsequent designs and is still used today. The SIS-1-3KA passed all tests and operated flawlessly during Yurii Gagarin's flight.

The group that worked on the design of the cosmonaut's panel included V.N. Maksimova, V.N. El'ksnin, G.N. Otreshko, Yu.T. Dragun, A.A. Kirillov, E.A. Vaskevich (the customer's representative), the designers V.I. Averin, E.S. Salfetkin, L.P. Simonenkova, and E.E. Tsypin, the manufacturing specialists N.Ya. Tsivlin, A.A. Kokorev, V.F. Isaev, V.A. Meleshkin, V.A. Filippov, N.I. Lizakov, N.V. Kruglikov, V.A. Mosiagin, I.A. Kisliakov, and others. Space design projects had significant support of the leadership of the the Flight Research Institute - its director N.S. Stroev, the chief engineer S.I. Znamenskii, the LII branch chief engineer V.N. Suchkov. This project became the foundation of SOKB KT and opened prospects for expansion of its activity and personnel growth.

Information display system for the Soyuz-7K and the Soyuz-A8 (the Soyuz-Apollo program)

Information display system for the Soyuz-7K and the Soyuz-A8 (the Soyuz-Apollo program)

On August 21, 1967, the Specialized Experimental Design Bureau of Spacecraft Technology was formed within the Flight Research Institute by a joint decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the USSR Council of Ministers. The Bureau was assigned the role of the lead organization for the design of information display systems for piloted spacecraft.

In 1971 the Bureau split off from the Institute and became an separate organization. At that time the Bureau was also assigned the role of the lead organization for the design of complex simulators for cosmonaut training. The Bureau was located in the town of Zhukovskii near Moscow on a territory adjacent to the Institute. In that period major Bureau facilities were constructed, such as engineering and production buildings, a vibration testing pavilion, a microelectronics equipment production facility, and an entrance checkpoint.

In 1983 the Bureau merged with the Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Equipment (NIIAO). In 1997 the Bureau was reestablished again as a division within NIIAO. The new Specialized Experimental Design Bureau of Spacecraft Technology was formed on the basis of the Institute's Departments 1, 2, and 11, and groups from the experimental production facility and from the department of Chief Technician of the Aerospace Division.

The high quality of design and manufacturing, the timely completion of projects, and the good technical support of its products (including service on the Baikonur cosmodrome) ensured the leading role of SOKB KT in the construction of onboard control panels for all Russian piloted spacecraft. From 1960 to 1999, SOKB KT has developed five generations of information display systems (IDS) and manual control systems - over 50 types and modifications of panels in total:

No. Space ship or space station IDS name and generation IDS components and special features; distinguishing characteristics of IDS generations
1 2 3 4
1 Vostok 1 (3KA) SIS-1-3KA

The first generation

Aircraft-type control panel and instrument board; orientation hand controller; lights; pressure, air temperature, and liquid temperature gauges; a combined display of temporal parameters and re-entry regimes; a combined display of the current location and the landing location; an encoded lock. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
2 Vostok 2 (3KA) SIS-2-3KA Same, except that the encoded lock for orientation system was dismantled.
3 Voskhod 1 (3KV) SIS-3-3KV Same for three cosmonauts
4

Voskhod 2 (3KD) SIS-4-3KD Same for two cosmonauts.
STVOR Controls for various systems and devices that provide the means for a cosmonaut to leave the landing module and the lock chamber. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
5 3KV no. 5 (artificial gravity spacecraft; never launched) SIS-5-3KV

The second generation

The instrument board has a new design, but in function it is similar to that on board the Vostok and Voskhod spacecraft.

For the first time the design of the control panel implements the matrix method of control object selection (the "command-signal field"), which uses command-information compression of the first type. For the first time an electroluminescent display is used in the command-signal field, and a new type of navigation display is used. Push-button controls are introduced. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.

6 MARS (heavy-lift interplanetary space ship) mock-up Zvezda For the first time experimental or prototype models of a plasma display, a voice information system, and other devices were developed. New directions for further IDS development are set.
7 NEK Ekran Central and peripheral control stations. The panels implement solutions developed for the Zvezda IDS. This system is designed as part of the automated control system for a complex object.
8 Soyuz-7k (11F615) Sirius-7k

The third generation

Instrument board; command-signal device, which uses command-information compression of the second type; finger controls for orientation and approach type; landing module and crew compartment lights; air temperature and liquid temperature gauges; control panel for the utility module; CRT television-type device for video monitoring, which combines TV and measurement analog information; laying-in bar indicator; autonomous multi-mode program control indicator for approach and re-entry; electroluminescent display. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
9 Zond (L1) (11F91) orbited the Moon Saturn Landing module control panel with two command-signal fields (with an uncompressed information signal field); CRT television-type device for video monitoring; connection with an onboard computer. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
10 N1-L3 (11F93) intended for a flight to the Moon and lunar landing Uran Return module control panel with two command-signal fields with digital control and a dark screen mode; CRT television-type device for video monitoring. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
Orion Approach control panel, which uses unique two-dimensional devices with light reading and an original solution for backing up the displayed information on the panel.
Luch Lunar module control panel. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
11 Soyuz-A8 (11F615) Sirius-A8 Modified version of Sirius-7k. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
12 Soyuz-Apollo Sirius-M Modified version of Sirius-A8.
13 Long-term Orbital Station (DOS) 17K (Salyut-1, -4, -6, -7) Sirius-17K Modified version of Sirius-A8.
POV EVA control panel
Mirzam-17K (on Salyut-7) PODU-1 and PODU-2: control panels for the fueling of the unified propulsion system (ODU). For the first time, light-emitting diodes, a symbolic circuit, a remote keyboard for command entry, and indicators with light reading were used.
14 Almaz (11F71), the Orbital Piloted Station (OPS) (Salyut-2, -3, -5) Mars IDS for the base unit of the Almaz complex. For the first time, multiscale gas-discharge indicators are used.
BIPS Optical electronic information retrieval system
DISK-1A

The fourth generation

Display complex
15 Transport supply ship (TKS) for the Almaz complex (11F72) Iupiter IDS for the cargo compartment. PGO-1 and PGO-2 panels. Telescopic hand controls.
Return module (VA) of the Almaz complex (11F73) Ikar IDs for the return module. PVA-1 and PVA-2. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
16

Long-term Orbital Station MIR (the base unit) Pluton Equipment Regime Control Panel and Emergency Warning Signal Panel with a "dark screen" mode and a real-time mode. Command Enter Panel with a hierarchical selection of objects and an optimal display. Devices with light reading.
Mirzam-1A Control panels for the fueling of the unified propulsion system. Mnemonic scheme; light-emitting diodes; addressed control; remote keyboard for command entry
POV EVA control panel
Simvol Display complex for information exchange with the onboard computer that serves the guidance and navigation control system. IDS of the 4th generation. Designed by VNIIR (the Research and Production Association Fazotron)
Stek Information and control complex, which for the first time uses matrix gas-discharge panels. IDS of the 4th generation. Designed by the Research and Production Association ELAS
Strela Information retrieval system with gas-discharge indicators. IDS of the 4th generation. Designed by the Research and Production Association ELAS
17 MIR modules: Kvant, Spektr, Priroda, Kristall Merkurii Unified panels for controlling equipment regimes, command entry, parameter monitoring, and emergency warning signaling
18 Soyuz-T Neptun Re-entry module control panel. Return to the command-signal control field design of the panel. A panel for information exchange with the onboard computer. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
Simvol Display system for cosmonauts' interaction with the onboard computer that serves the guidance and navigation control system. IDS of the 4th generation. Designed by VNIIR.
19 Soyuz-TM Neptun-M Neptun IDS with an electronic laying-in bar indicator
Simvol Display system. Designed by VNIIR.
20 Prototype of the Reusable Spacecraft Buran Vega-1-GLI IDS for the commander and the pilot (workstations 1 and 2). Piloting and navigational indicators of aviation type, linked to an onboard computer. Multi-functional CRT indicators. Digital devices for altitude and speed parameters. The equipment is capable of working in a vacuum.
BTS-002 Adonis Display system Adonis (4th generation IDS) was developed by the Research and Production Association Elektroavtomatika in Leningrad.
Vega-2-GLI IDS for the onboard engineer (workstation 3).
21 LL-1 and LL-2 (Tu-154 "flying lab" aircraft) Vega-LL IDS for the pilot (workstation 2) in the cockpit; IDS for workstations 1, 2, and 3 in the passenger compartment.
22 Reusable Spacecraft Buran (OK-1, 2, 3) Vega-1 IDS for the commander and the pilot (workstations 1 and 2). A unified display system functions as the main instrument for spacecraft guidance and control of onboard systems. Screen pictures are controlled by a central computer.
Adonis Piloting and navigational information display system for the crew (workstations 1 and 2). 4th generation IDS.
Vega-2 IDS for the onboard engineer (workstation 3).
US3-Disk Display system that supports communication between all workstations and the onboard computer. 4th generation IDS.
Vega-3 IDS for rendezvous operator (workstation 3).
Vega-4 IDS for manipulator operator (workstation 4).
Vega-5 IDS for payload operator (workstation 5).
PShK Lock-chamber control panel
PSM Docking module control panel
PBO Crew compartment control panel
23 Soyuz-TMA Neptun-ME

The fifth generation

Landing module control panel. An integrated IDS with two screens and three computer processors. The IDS includes a separate computer system for human-machine dialogue.
Simvol Display system. Designed by VNIIR.
International Space Station Alpha InPU Integrated control panel based on a VGA monitor and a VS Micro PC of the IBM PC type. 5th generation IDS for human-machine dialogue.
PSS Control panel for the emergency warning signal system in the Zvezda and Zarya modules
POV Control panel for exiting the docking module

See also other articles by Yurii Tiapchenko:

Information Display Systems for Russian Spacecraft: Generations I and II

Information Display Systems for Russian Spacecraft: Generations III, IV and V

Information Display Systems for the MIR Space Station and the Soyuz Transport Ship

Information Display Systems for Soyuz-TMA and the International Space Station

Interview with Yurii Tiapchenko


site last updated 27 February 2003 by Slava Gerovitch