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FSX Spaceflight dynamics module for FSX

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715
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ca-ontario
Hello all,

I've been working on this project for quite a while now, and as of a few days ago, I've overcame a major go-nogo hurdle, so I am extremely excited to announce this:

I've coupled FSX with a SimConnect DLL that utilizes a third-party fully-featured physics library to create an add on that will allow FSX to simulate spaceflight through a high-fidelity ballistic astrodynamic flight model. The physics model has highly capable set of features which will allow FSX users to define launch "stack" architecture in minute details, utilizing existing FSX SDK tools to create content and expand on the FSX functionality to push FSX into Earth orbit and outer space. This is NOT slew-driven engine; this is a completely new flight model that overrides FSX's existing flight model and re-defines the object using astrodynamic properties.

Major features of the spaceflight dynamics module:

  • deterministic, non-iterative dynamics solver
  • fully-featured, high-fidelity collision engine
  • precise point-force modelling (not just torques applied over major axis)
  • ability to assemble a launch "stack" and simulate launch, staging and orbit insertion
  • ability to build (assemble) and maintain persistent orbital structures
  • ability to dock with other objects in orbit, and to swap user control

User will be able to design content with all the usual FSX SDK tools, and expand it with a set of spaceflight-specific features to define it as a spaceflight object, be it payload, manned capsule, cargo, booster, main lifter, mating adapter, or whatever. While the current FSX limitations prohibit venturing too far from Earth (but far enough to have fun :) ), I've been exploring ways on how to simulate trip form Earth to other solar system bodies and I've had a few promising results. That, however, is a long term plan. For now, I'll include a few screenshots of the test scenarios I've been running while developing this engine. Enjoy!

Misho
author, TerraBuilder

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Messages
308
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netherlands
With this you can take the CaptainSim Spaceshuttle to a whole different level! This looks very interesting!
 

Heretic

Resource contributor
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6,828
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germany
Impressive. And already a CST100 to test it with...

Are space-related avionics included?
I need at least an orbital information display when going up or down.
 

TurboCompound

Resource contributor
Messages
190
Would it be possible to implement the collision engine into the general sim? I would love to have collision physics with existing aircraft.
 
Messages
715
Country
ca-ontario
Impressive. And already a CST100 to test it with...

Are space-related avionics included?
I need at least an orbital information display when going up or down.

Thanks! Small correction: Pictured is NASA's Orion :)

Yes, space-related avionics will be included. Finding stuff up there without it would be next to impossible!
 
Messages
715
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ca-ontario
Would it be possible to implement the collision engine into the general sim? I would love to have collision physics with existing aircraft.

I'm thinking no right off the bat, but as I delve more and more into it, perhaps there is a way...
 
Messages
715
Country
ca-ontario
With this you can take the CaptainSim Spaceshuttle to a whole different level! This looks very interesting!
Indeed! External tank and solid boosters will have to be modelled, and then the add-on will provide functionality to have them assembled together for a launch.

One thing I am unsure about is the transition between ballistic and FSX flight models, when the orbiter turns from a falling brick to a glider :) I am unsure if it is possible, at supersonic speeds, to switch from ballistic to FSX flight model without any visible transition from FSX's perspective.
 
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JB3DG

Resource contributor
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1,323
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southafrica
It would be better if you could write your own aerodynamics model to switch to from the ballistics model.
 
Messages
1,949
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france
Well, now FSX will be F&SSX :) (Flight and Space Sim X :p)
if you need a betatester, well, I try to reach space since I know FSX has space (as I was on FS9 before, wich don't have space) :p

Also, is is Compatible with P3D? :)
 

ollyau

Resource contributor
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1,023
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us-california
Looks great! I'd definitely be interested in giving it a try. It has my name written all over it. :D

Orion
 
Messages
715
Country
ca-ontario
Well, now FSX will be F&SSX :) (Flight and Space Sim X :p)
if you need a betatester, well, I try to reach space since I know FSX has space (as I was on FS9 before, wich don't have space) :p

Also, is is Compatible with P3D? :)

Thanks ;) The module is a plain SimConnect DLL... as with other DLL add-ons, all you need to activate it is a simple entry in DLL.xml. As for P3D, I am unsure what "makes" it compatible... I never tried P3D and I'd like to stick to the lowest common denominator, which in this case is FSX SP2 (which I believe brings it to FSXA, correct?). I am almost certain it will work with the Steam edition, I just haven't had time to test it yet.
 
Messages
715
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ca-ontario
As far as other solar system bodies, I've managed to create Moon by completely replacing Earth textures with high-resolution lunar textures (below are the results). What I haven't tried yet is whether I can change the size of the "globe" using FSX SDK.


ad5e9574f9a4c02f3589a83cacd986ff.jpeg


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Heretic

Resource contributor
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6,828
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germany
Thanks! Small correction: Pictured is NASA's Orion :)

Yes, space-related avionics will be included. Finding stuff up there without it would be next to impossible!

Ah, those modern CSMs all look the same. :p

What about reentry?
Heating, transition to the standard flight dynamics, parachute handling, etc...


Btw: If you need a Shuttle model, Flight Gear has one and it's GPL-licensed.
 
Messages
715
Country
ca-ontario
Ah, those modern CSMs all look the same. :p

What about reentry?
Heating, transition to the standard flight dynamics, parachute handling, etc...


Btw: If you need a Shuttle model, Flight Gear has one and it's GPL-licensed.

Yeah :D You've seen one cone, you've seen them all :D

The pure physics is just a summation of forces acting on the body in motion. Same holds true for FSX's flight model, except it is much more complicated than ballistics, which I am dealing with. Since I have a full control over the physics model, re-entry (in it's simplest form) would be a force, whose magnitude is a function of shape profile, air density and speed. Heating, while I don't intend to model the "actual" heating, will be depicted using FSX's SFX toolbox (that was a mouthful :p )

Transition to the standard flight dynamics will not be needed for ballistic objects (capsules) since, well, they don't fly. As for the winged spacecraft, while none are in use today (manned, that is), I would love to have Space Shuttle, X-37 OTV and Dream Chaser in the future. As I was mentioning in one of the previous posts, I have to test whether a transition from ballistic to FSX flight model at high speeds (when a spacecraft turns from a hot falling brick to a glider) manifests in any visible anomaly. This will involve a rather simple test... I'll perform it one of these days and report back. :cool:

Parachute handling - an effect of the parachute is simply a force on a body, upwards, of varying magnitude (stages from drogue chute to full deployment). Visually, I can certainly put together an animation of a deploying parachute... I'm a pretty good 3D modeller, all of the objects in screen shots (including interiors) were modelled by myself.

What is more "difficult" in terms of modelling the correct spaceflight engine is the proper "assembly" of the launch "stack", or a space launch vehicle. This requires assembly of components that hold together as a unit, but are able to detach during the flight, when they are no longer needed (also known as "Staging"), and, also, docking or assembling structures in space. FSX does not have this capability, or it is very limited, mostly through the means of mission creation (flour bombs and such). I'm working on ways to have this much more flexible :stirthepo.

Misho
 
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Heretic

Resource contributor
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6,828
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germany
The pure physics is just a summation of forces acting on the body in motion. Same holds true for FSX's flight model, except it is much more complicated than ballistics, which I am dealing with. Since I have a full control over the physics model, re-entry (in it's simplest form) would be a force, whose magnitude is a function of shape profile, air density and speed. Heating, while I don't intend to model the "actual" heating, will be depicted using FSX's SFX toolbox (that was a mouthful :p )

Well, effects is all you need. i'm not expecting you to go to KSP levels of fidelity with heating and heat dissipation.

Transition to the standard flight dynamics will not be needed for ballistic objects (capsules) since, well, they don't fly.

Umm...they did fly a bit. Gemini and Apollo could alter their orientation and thus trajectories upon reentry.

As for the winged spacecraft, while none are in use today (manned, that is), I would love to have Space Shuttle, X-37 OTV and Dream Chaser in the future. As I was mentioning in one of the previous posts, I have to test whether a transition from ballistic to FSX flight model at high speeds (when a spacecraft turns from a hot falling brick to a glider) manifests in any visible anomaly. This will involve a rather simple test... I'll perform it one of these days and report back. :cool:

From the top of my head, FSX' flight model only works until mach 4, so you'll have to cover a bit of ground for the transition.

Parachute handling - an effect of the parachute is simply a force on a body, upwards, of varying magnitude (stages from drogue chute to full deployment). Visually, I can certainly put together an animation of a deploying parachute... I'm a pretty good 3D modeller, all of the objects in screen shots (including interiors) were modelled by myself.

I'll be waiting for Gemini and an Agena.

What is more "difficult" in terms of modelling the correct spaceflight engine is the proper "assembly" of the launch "stack", or a space launch vehicle. This requires assembly of components that hold together as a unit, but are able to detach during the flight, when they are no longer needed (also known as "Staging"), and, also, docking or assembling structures in space. FSX does not have this capability, or it is very limited, mostly through the means of mission creation (flour bombs and such). I'm working on ways to have this much more flexible :stirthepo.

Might want to get in touch with the TACPACK guys as they manage to attach weapons to already existing models. The same principle can be used for rocket stacks.
 
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715
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ca-ontario
Might want to get in touch with the TACPACK guys as they manage to attach weapons to already existing models. The same principle can be used for rocket stacks.

Actually, the physics engine already has quite a powerful toolbox that covers this functionality, so it is now just a matter of warming up the chair and implementing it. :wizard:
 
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