I've started with designing the 'missions' that I want the kids to complete in the simulator.
Obviously, the exact scenario will need to be different for kids with different prior skill levels. Towards that end, I'm starting by designing two scenarios. There will obviously be flexibility build into the system to allow for future missions to be created... but having a firm grasp on how it will work 'at first' always helps to prevent scope creep and get the project done on time!
In this log I'll detail the younger kids mission.
The mission will be to rescue a similar craft stuck in orbit. The kids will need to launch, rendezvous, dock, transfer fuel to the stranded ship, undock, deorbit, and land.
We'll start with a one hour introduction class. The class needs to cover the following -
1. Introduce the fictional spacecraft we'll be flying - a next generation reusable spaceplane similar to Sierra Nevada's DreamChaser that launches vertically on top of a rocket stack and lands as an unpowered glider.
2. Explain the concept of orbit - getting above the atmosphere, and getting enough velocity that you keep missing the earth as it tries to pull you back home.
3. Explain how to get into a specific orbit - launching and performing an orbital insertion burn.
4. Explain how to raise and lower an orbit, and how to execute a plane change.
5. Give a really basic overview to how we're going to handle orbital rendezvous on this mission - launching into an orbit lower than our target, making sure our planes are aligned, and then performing a Hohmann transfer at the right time to meet the target.
6. The basics of docking two spacecraft.
Next we'll break the kids into groups of 3 and assign jobs.
The three jobs will be -
Commander - pilots the ship through ascent, acts as copilot for landing, and deorbits the ship.
Pilot - Pilots the ship during docking and landing. Acts as copilot during ascent.
Engineer - Controls staging and engines during ascent. Monitors fuel, electrical, and environmental systems during flight. Acts as copilot during docking.
The instructor will demonstrate each job on a computer and projector setup, and use pictures and 3D models to demonstrate where the controls they'll be using are located inside the simulator.
The teams will all cycle through the simulator for a quick 'practice' turn at each job - each team will fly an ascent, then each team will practice docking, then each team will practice landing.
Finally the kids will be briefed about the ship that needs rescuing and each team will get a chance to fly their complete mission start to finish.