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4 hours ago, Dynaman said:

Touchscreens have gotten a LOT better the last few years.  The main problem with them in a car is you HAVE to take your eyes off the road to use the damn things - and that is not a good idea.  Our SUV's display then occasionally has to gall to put up a warning when you start driving to keep your eyes on the road - to get rid of it and start the radio requires pressing a touchscreen button.  What genius thought that up?

 

The old physical knobs and push buttons you could use without taking your eyes off the road.

They're better than they used to be, but they're still not good.

They require more precision because a misplaced finger, no matter how gently, ACTIVATES something. And it isn't always clear what you are activating, particularly in a multimode display, and also in an emergency where a quick and decisive response is needed and you might be a little jittery from adrenaline. 

 

I note the US Navy recently launched a retrofit program to step back from touchscreens after an all-touch bridge was tied to two fatal collisions in one year.  Interviews with the crews afterwards was pretty much universally "touch screens suck, can we have our physical controls back?"

 

 

Basically, I'm concerned that SpaceX has made a mistake with their configuration. Seeing an actual picture of the controls in an Ars Technica article does little to instill me with confidence. Literally everything is above shoulder level, and it strikes me as something that is not actually intended for use. (I've noted several articles pointing out that the Dragon is intended to operate on automatic and the controls are considered a backup.)

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/08/spacex-reveals-the-controls-of-its-dragon-spacecraft-for-the-first-time/

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22 minutes ago, JB0 said:

I note the US Navy recently launched a retrofit program to step back from touchscreens after an all-touch bridge was tied to two fatal collisions in one year.  Interviews with the crews afterwards was pretty much universally "touch screens suck, can we have our physical controls back?"

Any links for that?  I read a very long article about one of the incidents, but don't recall seeing anything about post-accident interviews about touchscreens. 

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3 hours ago, David Hingtgen said:

Any links for that?  I read a very long article about one of the incidents, but don't recall seeing anything about post-accident interviews about touchscreens. 

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/11/20800111/us-navy-uss-john-s-mccain-crash-ntsb-report-touchscreen-mechanical-controls

 

First one I found.

 

Following the incident, the Navy conducted fleet-wide surveys, and according to Rear Admiral Bill Galinis, the Program Executive Officer for Ships, personnel indicated that they would prefer mechanical controls. Speaking before a recent Navy symposium, he described the controls as falling under the “‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ category,”

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The report also notes:

"Touchscreens weren’t the only issue in the collision: the report calls out that several crew members on the bridge at the time weren’t familiar with the systems that they were overseeing and were inexperienced in their roles, and that many were fatigued, with an average of 4.9 hours of sleep between the 14 crew members present. The report recommended that the Navy conduct better training for the bridge systems, update the controls and associated documentation, and ensure that Navy personnel aren’t tired when they’re on the job."

From my experience in designing industrial GUIs, they provide much greater flexibility, reduced information load, because the content can be adapted specific to the situation, and flatter learning curve (and yes, you still have to be highly trained to operate a complicated system).

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True. There were a lot of non-interface problems.

And the computer problems were compounded by shipbuilders having no standard to work with(so the interface was diffrent on every ship) as well as offering too much functionality in a clumsy manner. 

I'm not saying touchscreens don't have good reasons to exist, either. Just that certain primary controls(rudder and throttle in the boat example) ought have dedicated input devices.

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After looking at the pics available online of the Dragon Capsule, maybe I missed it but are there any manual controls in case "This is Space, it does not cooperate" happens, or is it strictly the touchscreen panels? 

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I don't see a hand controller anywhere, which, in my mind, is a startling omission. It has to be somewhat foreign to a couple of jet jockies, as well. All the craft during Gemini and Apollo had some sort of a manual control stick with which to fly the thing, and one would think that'd be the kind of instinctual holdover that would find its way into any craft we build until some form of reliable mind/machine interface is achieved. 

The sad thing is, the only true test of the theory is for something to fail catastrophically causing some disruption to attitude control or the automated flight system, thereby forcing the astronauts to take control of flight input manually. I'm sure they practice in the simulators for "all" eventualities, but it's a little different when an unforeseen event , such as Apollo 13's infamous explosion, changes the situation. I certainly don't hope for that; I'd like to see the tech proven, but the fact that sh!t happens always remains in the back of one's mind.

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It does have physical controls for critical operations. To list the ones that I'm aware of there's the ejection lever to trigger the LES in the bottom center of the control panel, an array of 10-20 buttons to either side along the lower section of the panel that I haven't heard specific functions of, and a keypad built into the armrests of either command seat with com and, I believe, thruster controls.

The touch screens are to replace the ~10,000 buttons and switches you see in something like the shuttle that control non-critical systems. In addition everything I've seen from the actual astronaut's trained on the system (who also had significant input on it's design) has been very positive. While it's possible they're just saying that for appearances sake personally I'm going to assume that if they're comfortable test flying this thing they're reasonably confident in the systems in place for them to control the spacecraft and have enough knowledge to know what they need.

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Demo2 is scheduled to takeoff around noonish Pacific time, about four hours from now. Weather's 50% today, so fingers crossed for favorable conditions when the countdown is nearing launch time. Godspeed Doug and Bob!

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Y'know, with all of the other advancements this program represents, it seems a bit anachronistic that the American space program continues to prefer water landings instead of a controlled ground landing. The Soviets have been landing on the ground since the beginning of Soyuz, so it's not like there's no precedence. It just seems a step back to me. Moreover, with water landings, there's always the possibility of losing the capsule if it takes on water. Gus Grissom was pissed when his Gemini capsule was lost.

Anyway, with 18 minutes to launch, it's looking promising to a celebratory return to space via American technology. Go Demo2!

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15 minutes ago, M'Kyuun said:

Y'know, with all of the other advancements this program represents, it seems a bit anachronistic that the American space program continues to prefer water landings instead of a controlled ground landing. The Soviets have been landing on the ground since the beginning of Soyuz, so it's not like there's no precedence. It just seems a step back to me. Moreover, with water landings, there's always the possibility of losing the capsule if it takes on water. Gus Grissom was pissed when his Gemini capsule was lost.

I suspect part of it is due to practical reasons:  the old Soviet Union/Russia doesn’t have access to a lot waterways.

Between landing on water vs. landing on ground, I’d like the extra wiggle room that water allows.

Extra Comment:  Crazy that they recovered that rocket stage so flawlessly on the boat.

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Allow me to get in touch with my inner Benny.

Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship Spaceship

 

SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACCEEEEESHIIIIIIIIIIPPP!!!!

 

Thank you.

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Those vertical rocket recovery landings will never cease to amaze me; it's sci-fi turned real, just an incredible feat of engineering. It's why I made my water recovery statement earlier; if we land a rocket on its tail, why not bring a capsule down on land. but I digress. What was notable to me was how clean the exhaust plume was from the rocket as compared to the Gemini, Apollo, and STS missions, which created huge fireballs and lots of smoke. When they called ignition and liftoff, there was no indication that the engine was firing until Falcon left the pad. Also notable was how stable the view in the Dragon appeared; I'm sure there's some vibration, but looking at the flatscreen from behind the astronauts, there was no discernable difference between prelaunch and flight. Incredible stability.

It's  a great feeling to see that rocket go heavenwards, to see the staging go off without a hitch, to see all those clear views of the ship separating and of course, to see the good Earth in the background. It's a proud day for America. I feel it.

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