Visit to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit and for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Announcing Thorium: A New Set of Starship Controls. What's It Like to Flight Direct the New USS Voyager at Renaissance Academy? Lakeview Academy's Lion's Gate Center Posts its First Mission Trailer. Imaginarium Theater

A New Set of Starship Simulator Controls! Introducing Alex Anderson's Thorium.  The Next Generation in Simulator Software.

Alex demonstrated how the framework code enhanced the stability and flexibility of the Thorium system.
I politely nodded, pretending to understand. 

Hello Troops,
It was difficult starting the Space Center 27 years ago. The CMSEC (as far as I know) was the nation's first local, school-based attempt at creating a fully immersive experiential education spaceship simulator. Everything you see in today's Voyager inspired starship simulators had their start on the Voyager and its sister ships: Odyssey, Magellan, Galileo, and Phoenix, during those first two-plus decades.

One of my first major decisions was to choose between computer controls or dial and switch controls to operate the Voyager. An electrician could install dial and switch controls (cheaper than a programmer). The downside was the cost of all those dials and switches. Computers, on the other hand, offered unique flexibility in control but needed a programmer. Starship simulator software was non-existent.  

In the end, I settled on computers. Apple flew me to Cupertino for a weekend crash course in Hypercard programming. After that, I was on my own to create the Voyager's first set of controls (laughable as they were).  Since that first year, multiple sets of starship controls have been written by students, amateur programmers, semi-professional, and professional programmers.  Each set of controls hoped to be better than the last.  That brings us up to today and this exciting announcement. 

Introducing Thorium, the newest set of starship controls, nearly ready for deployment, written by Alex Anderson with contributions from Brent Anderson, Todd Rasband, and Matt Ricks.  Alex took me through the alpha version of Thorium on Saturday. I was impressed! Now it's your turn to see a few screenshots of the controls and learn more about them. I wouldn't do Thorium justice with my limited understanding of programming (I find Scratch challenging), so I asked Alex to write the following post for The Troubadour.  If you're not excited by a new set of starship controls, I suggest you check your pulse to see if you alive.  

Mr. Williamson  

by Alex Anderson

Folks, for the past year I’ve been incognito developing a new set of simulator controls. It’s called Thorium and it is designed to be the universal simulator controls of the future. What makes these controls great?

* They can run multiple simulations at the same time, with simulators operating in the same universe. Yeah, that’s right. They are built for joint missions.
* A timeline system allows you to pre-compose your mission beforehand and trigger actions for each moment of a mission. It’s basically your mission binder rolled into the controls.
* It’s flexible. Want to run a 4 person ship? Great. Want to run a 14 person space station. Fabulous. Want to change what kind of ship you are running in the middle of a mission? No problem. Thorium supports any configuration of simulator imaginable with support for multiple layouts, skins, and card configurations. 
* Data is stored as a stream of events, which means after the mission you can see exactly what happened at any given moment of the mission. Great for post-mission reviews and analytics. 

The greatest thing about these controls is that they are designed to be future-proof. There are a lot of amazing things that can be done with simulator controls, but none of the controls developed yet have had the longevity to develop these advanced features. The hope is that Thorium will be different. The controls are nowhere close to being done (currently in Alpha status), but development continues at a steady pace.

If you want to see what amazing things are in store, check out the roadmap ( You can even create an account on GitHub and request your own features (use the ‘Issues’ tab). I’ll be posting development updates every week on the blog ( If you have any questions or want to see a live demo of the controls in their current state, email me at

What is it Like Flight Directing the New USS Voyager at Renaissance Academy?
Watch Maeson Busk and Learn.

Is Maeson Busk ready to ascend the astronomical heights of Flight Directing Olympus and take a seat next to the Gods of Flight Directing (pretty much a self-declared title)?  I'm not sure so I'll let you decide for yourself. Pay close attention to his acrobatic skills at the end of the video. I'm sure you'll be impressed. Maeson is minutes away from finishing a 5 hour mission for Mr. James Porter and staff from the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove.

Lakeview Academy's Lion's Gate Center Posts its First Mission Trailer

Nathan King, director of the Lion's Gate Center at Lakeview Academy, is pleased to present their very first mission trailer.  Contact the Lion's Gate for private mission and camp information.
Tell them you're a Troubadour for an enthusiastic High Five!

Imaginarium Theater
The Best Gifs of the week edited for gentler audiences who appreciate a break in their boring lives. Perfect for family gatherings when something - anything - is needed to distract grandpa from telling one more story.

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