Revisiting The Dawn Of The Us Space Program: Application Of Virtual Technology To Space History


The name "Cape Canaveral" evokes visions of bright orange gantries lining windswept shores, where the United States departed on its voyages to the heavens. Future generations of aerospace historians and engineers will look back to the Cape as hallowed ground. Undoubtedly, they will be cognizant of the names Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, but will they be aware of the thousands of contractor, civil service and military workers who supported these giant leaps for mankind and technology? And what of the aging launch structures? The University of Central Florida and the US Space Walk of Fame Foundation have initiated oral history projects to capture the reflections of pioneer space workers. As we near our 200th oral history interview, we are only beginning to understand the social and technical dynamics surrounding their Herculean efforts during the infancy of this nation's missile/space industry. These interviews are a touchstone to a bygone era and will permit future scholars and citizens the opportunity to learn from those who were there. While priceless, these oral histories are only a two dimensional link to the past. The human brain processes and assimilates knowledge more effectively in a three dimensional fashion [Sheppard]. Advances in virtual technology offers more than a detailed recreation of significant events in space history, they act as a highly effective multi-sensory educational tool. The Institute of Simulation and Training and the History Department at the University of Central Florida have embarked on a joint venture to recreate historic events at Cape Canaveral through computer simulation. The first phase of the project is Launch Complex 14 as configured in February 1962 for the launch of the "Free World's First Man in Orbit" - John Glenn. Users can witness all aspects of the launch procedure and interact with the computerized simulation, change views and move through the launch timeline. Our envisioned experience will incorporate portions of oral history interviews of those present at the launch, ensuring the element of humanity is not forgotten.

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Space Congress Proceedings

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Article; Proceedings Paper

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0242721524 (Scopus)

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