BOX 5–5 Distributed Interactive Simulation

Distributed interactive simulation environments have been developed and are based on multiperson computer-generated workstation networks that represent operational elements consisting of both individuals and functional groups. Such techniques involving real people can be used for selection and training under conditions of simulated mission operations in a realistic environment. Participants communicate via electronic channels to exchange information, discuss work requirements, and evaluate data for decision making; exchange the outcomes of specific actions; and evaluate mission-oriented scenarios. Space mission simulations also permit inquiries of Earth-based mission control for information or instructions, or both.

Groups of individuals are trained to interact within the simulation environment for the purpose of engaging with assigned crewmembers and Earth-based mission control. Distributed interactive simulation methodologies with performance tasks requiring repeated exchange of information among participants and between groups provide an automated means for the systematic monitoring and analysis of the effects of experimental variations on psychosocial interactions, decision making, and both individual and group performance effectiveness. The operational performance measures evaluated include pattern analysis, task completion, and timing parameters.

differences as well as under conditions that involve crews of mixed sexes and with command structure constraints (Kelley and Kanas, 1992; Holland et al., 1993). It is not enough to have the leader be the buffer, because the leader could be addressing specific problems or could be too involved in a task-oriented emergency. Finally, crew resource management for long-duration missions also requires consideration of technical as well as nontechnical skills (e.g., corporate citizenship, interpersonal skills, and compatibility). Individual differences in personality functioning become important when the job requires corporate citizenship or the use of “people skills” (Borman et al., 1997; Hogan et al., 1998; Mount et al., 1998; Salgado, 1998).


The conceptual and methodological challenges associated with designing, establishing, and maintaining functional systems that promote performance effectiveness and social and ecological stability for small groups involved in long-term space missions beyond Earth orbit will need to be approached at the most fundamental scientific level. Evidence-based technological developments can be facilitated by research methodologies that incorporate studies in analog settings and simulations of the environmental

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