Enhancing Crew Training for Exploration Missions: The WEKIT Experience

Ravagnolo, Liliana; Helin, Kaj; Musso, Ivano; Sapone, Rosa; Vizzi, Carlo; Wild, Fridolin; Vovk, Alla; Limbu, Bibeg Hang; Ransley, Mark; Smith, Carl H. and Rasool, Jazz (2019). Enhancing Crew Training for Exploration Missions: The WEKIT Experience. In: Proceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, International Astronautical Federation, Paris, 2019.

URL: https://iafastro.directory/iac/paper/id/50193/abst...


Training is an essential component of astronauts’ mission preparation. Every astronaut receives specific trainings for the tasks to be performed in orbit, both routine and emergency, during the two years preceding the launch. Moreover, astronauts are assigned to perform On Board Training (OBT), in order to practice and maintain a high level of proficiency, in particular for complex and emergency procedures. The astronaut training process needs to further evolve and adapt to the different conditions and requirements that come with long-duration exploration missions. Currently, the training period for an astronaut takes between 18and 24 months. Projecting this estimate on to a Mars/Moon mission with two-year duration (i.e., including the long-distance journey to Mars and back), a training period of about six years would be required, but is not feasible. In addition, today, the Ground Team continuously supports crew members while they are performing activities onboard the International Space Station (ISS). This will not be possible during a mission to Mars, since the communication between Ground and Mars is affected by a delay that can range from 8 to 20 minutes, depending on how Mars and Earth are aligned in that specific moment. The WEKIT tool introduced in this paper is expected to fill these gaps by reducing the training duration necessary and by providing support to the crew when communication with Ground is not available, increasing their autonomy. WEKIT is a research and innovation project supported by the Horizon 2020 program dedicated to developing and testing novel ways of industrial training enabled by Smart Wearable Technology (WT). The twelve partners representing academia and industry from six countries in Europe have built a new learning technology platform and unique methodology to capture expert experience and share it with trainees making industrial training more efficient, affordable and engaging. This paper describes the methodology utilized by the consortium to design the WEKIT software and hardware, its features, and the feedback obtained from the almost 200 participants who tested the prototype in ALTEC to demonstrate and assess how the learning processes can be improved in terms of effectiveness, time reduction and user perception by using the proposed methodology.

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