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Simulation of Space Operation - A Study on Learning in Control Rooms

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Simulation of Space Operation - A Study on Learning in Control Rooms

Authors: Siva Ekambaram, Brit-Eli Danielsen, Liz Helena Froes Coelho, Trine Marie Stene.

Presented at the 14th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM) 2013, Kaunas, Lithuania.


Simulation is one of the ways to promote learning in organizations. Learning constitutes several aspects, and one such aspect is reflection. This paper looks at the role of reflection in and around the simulation process. In other words, this paper looks at the role of reflection and learning in simulation.

This paper is based on a study that is a part of a research project called the N-USOC project. The Norwegian User Support and Operations Centre (N-USOC) is one of nine European control centres for European Space Agency's (ESA's) payload and science operations on-board the International Space Station (ISS). These USOCs (User Support and Operations Centres) are located in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland. In order to work on console the operator has to go through a certification process. Simulation is applied as an important part of the training, when the new employees are to be certified. Experienced employees also participate in simulation sessions in order to prepare themselves for a specific experiment. ESA and NASA arrange the simulation sessions.

One simulation is studied, where the major participants of the simulation-session are: (1) N-USOC: User Support and Operations Centre in Norway (2) MUSC: This is an USOC in Germany (3) COL-CC: Columbus Control Centre (Col-CC) is ESA's control centre that has responsibility for the European module Columbus on ISS (4) POIC: Payload Operations Integration Centre (POIC) is NASAs control centre responsible for payload operation on ISS.

This paper uses qualitative and quantitative methods to study the simulation sessions with the focus on the topics of reflection and learning.  Reflection - when it is considered in connection with a professional action that an organizational member participates - can be viewed as reflection-on-action and reflection-in-action. It is interesting and important to look at these two processes with respect to learning through simulation, because these two processes would lead to understand more on how participants of simulation make sense of the learning process, and how they learn and create knowledge. This understanding is useful in order to make possible improvement in the simulation sessions in the future.