The rapid growth of the space enterprise, from commercial interests in space exploration to a potentially adversarial domain, has created a demand for faster, more agile tools for space operations. The ability to simulate multiple scenarios and test models with pinpoint accuracy and rich interactive data visualization can serve as an invaluable advantage for operators to maintain space domain awareness.
The Aerospace Corporation is developing a next-generation platform that allows for these capabilities. Known as Prairie, the platform combines Aerospace’s unrivaled technical and historical space operation data with the most innovative gaming engines available in the commercial market, and is presented to the user with stunning visual graphics. Prairie will give users the ability to train for space engagement by fusing architecture, technology and space operations together in a unique, open-source package.
“The future of space belongs to those who are more aware, can make decisions faster, and routinely execute seemingly impossible operations,” said Randy Villahermosa, General Manager of Aerospace’s iLab. “Prairie is a gaming platform for experimenting how we can achieve these aims.”
Prairie will marry decades of Aerospace domain expertise with commercial technologies to deliver an ecosystem of advanced tools with intuitive, streamlined interfaces. It will also provide the ability to quickly create operational scenarios—using low-fidelity calculations for rapid exploration, then switching to high-fidelity modeling and simulation to determine requirements.
Operators will be able to immediately practice skills and test new technologies in a “prairie-safe” environment before operating new systems in space. The Prairie architecture protects security-sensitive and proprietary information to leverage cloud computing for multi-user collaboration.
Advantages of the Prairie Platform
- Prairie leverages commercial R&D and productization investments, using both Unreal and Unity game-engines.
- Stunning visuals give operators a clear picture of what is happening, enabling faster and improved decision making.
- Constellations can be dynamically modeled as digital twins.
- Mission planners can map trajectory and orbits for future space exploration.
- Developers will be able to rapidly create and test new capabilities on-orbit with a fleet of “DevOps satellites” operated from Prairie.
- Prairie is next-generation capable, able to evaluate where artificial intelligence can deliver an asymmetric advantage over non-AI counterparts in satellite operations.
Prairie has already been used to provide the space simulator for a live-fire, multi-nation wargame. This included mission planning and tasking of satellite ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) imagery.
Prairie’s mission-planning features were leveraged to identify available commercial and government satellites that would have a view of the target site. Aerospace was able to quickly adapt Prairie to the user’s needs. Instead of merely using a descriptive card to define the scenario, they were able to represent space with an interactive experience.
“Space is integral to national defense and it’s critical to include them in wargaming exercises,” Villahermosa said. “With Prairie, Aerospace brought a significant improvement to wargaming participants for greater realism of satellite assets.”