RecentNews Archive


Hand Controller Production Update

This year METECS went into production mode on our Orion and ISS Hand Controllers. METECS had previously delivered three sets of Orion hand controllers in 2020. This year we produced seven sets of these Orion hand controllers (a set being one translational HC and one rotational HC) and six of these sets were delivered to NASA. In April we also started design on the ISS variant of the hand controllers and by the end of July we delivered our first two sets of them to NASA. Overall, we also produced seven sets of the ISS variant this year and delivered six sets to NASA.  

As part of this project, we also developed two test rigs (one for each HC type) to document deflection/force curves for each HC unit that is delivered. In September we were asked by NASA to build one of these rigs for use on the Orion program to test actual engineering HC units against flight specifications. At the time, testing turnaround on the HCs was impeding the schedule and our test rig helped to reduce that time and speed up test iterations.  

It is also worth noting that this summer our interns designed a test rig to facilitate some materials testing research to determine the most suitable 3D printed material to be used in production of the hand controllers. We really appreciate their contribution to this project! 

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Happy New Year from METECS!

We know that the past year has been a turbulent one for many people, but we are celebrating our accomplishments in 2021 and the many opportunities for 2022. We are very grateful for our employees, our customers, and our exciting work and we are looking forward to a great new year. 

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Lunar Surface Simulation

The METECS team is responsible for building the lunar surface model for lander and rover simulations supporting the Artemis program, such as the NASA Exploration Systems Simulations (NExSyS) team. Starting with digital elevation models from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) our team then adds sub-resolution features to the terrain, such as rocks and craters. We also add in contact dynamics to support interaction between vehicles (such as rovers and landers) against this terrain. Using these high-fidelity terrain models, NASA is able to conduct studies such as lighting and navigation studies which help to characterize the challenges astronauts will face when we return to the Lunar surface!

There have been many recent demos of these lunar simulation capabilities to NASA management as well as other agencies such as JAXA. Congratulations to the METECS employees who have worked to move expand and demo these capabilities

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The METECS team supported NASA’s S.U.I.T.S. (Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students) project, as a part of NASA’s Artemis education outreach program. The 2021 challenge proved difficult for students and faculty alike due to on-site access restrictions and limitations to network resources. METECS worked directly with teams to gather their latest source, compile and deploy to their respective HoloLens and Leap Motion AR devices. The team additionally came up with innovative solutions to work with network limitations on test day and devised IoT-like deployments to serve student required data streams with minimal to no re-configuration. Furthermore, METECS has diligently documented and analyzed anomalies from the prior year, and has begun rearchitecting the telemetry stream and network to support multiple teams in a cost-effective manner. 

You can learn more about the NASA SUITS project here:

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METECS Systems Engineers Lunch Group

The METECS Systems Engineers Lunch Group had an extra fun meeting today. METECS catered lunch for the group along with cake to celebrate John Borland’s birthday!  The METECS Systems Engineers Lunch Group is an informal group of METECS employees who meet every few weeks during lunchtime to present and discuss Systems Engineering topics. Everyone in the group works on different projects at JSC, so they get to hear a lot of different perspectives on each topic that gets discussed at these meetings.  Happy birthday Mr. Borland!

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Astrobee successfully locates RFID tag aboard the ISS!

Check out this video of the REALM RFID project flying on the ISS Astrobee free-flying robot!  METECS personnel were thrilled to see their hard work pay off and witness the robot able to sense and fly toward a particular RFID tag (which was celebrated by Astronaut Shannon Walker with a fist pump!). Congratulations to the METECS employees who have put so much effort into the RFID REALM project.


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Training System Simulator Milestone!

Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) training was performed using the Training System (TS) simulator for the first time ever last week! The TS simulation is used daily to train all of the functionality of the International Space Station (ISS), including Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) operations, Visiting Vehicle docking, capture and berthing, and payload relocations. The SPDM is a 2 armed robot that can be used on the end of the SSRMS with its arms grasping tools to execute tasks that would otherwise require Astronauts performing a spacewalk. The METECS Team performed software development, integration, and testing in support of this highly anticipated training capability. Congrats to the METECS Team and all of the other NASA JSC teams involved in reaching this major TS training milestone!

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Metecs supports operations on ISS with the Astrobee robot.

Today the METECS team supported operations on the International Space Station with the free-flying Astrobee robot to perform the initial checkout of the REALM-2 RFID payload.  REALM is the RFID system being used on ISS to help track and locate various inventory and the REALM-2 component provides a payload on the Astrobee robot to provide a portable RFID capability.  This capability will allow Astrobee to seek out missing items, perform inventories, and provide additional RFID sensing capabilities in the ISS.  METECS provides all of the software for the REALM project as well as the hardware/software integration. Congratulations to METECS team members that contributed to the REALM-2 payload and a successful first flight!

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Installation of the new NanoRacks research airlock

The new NanoRacks Airlock, which expands external ISS research capabilities and supports satellite deployment, was installed on ISS over the weekend!  METECS developed the contact and mechanism models, as well as performed the simulation and graphics integration required to train ISS flight controllers on installing the NanoRacks Airlock on ISS using the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS).  METECS is proud to contribute to this new ISS airlock and the exciting science it will support!

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