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Meet the flight operations console - more commonly referred to as “the helm”. It’s a multipurpose workstation that will allow a Quartermaster to fly the ship across three navigation modes. The current focus is on the most commonly used mode – impulse navigation.

Impulse navigation allows travel within a stellar system between planets with the vessel operating at significant fractions of light speed (“C”). Endeavour’s maximum impulse speed is estimated at 0.2C or 60,000KM per second.

In this mode one of the helm's three panels displays the Tactical Operating Environment (TOE) grid, which provides a 3D representation of the vessel’s position relative to other vessels and astronomical objects (AOs) such as planets.

Another panel is used for impulse navigation and displays a map and details of major AOs in the current star system. It also displays the ambient electromagnetic (EM) output of the system’s star, as this has a masking effect which could obscure other vessels from detection by EMDAR.

 From top: Impulse maneuvering panel; impulse navigation panelThe central panel is used for impulse maneuvering, which controls the vessel’s speed and heading. As the engines are a major EM emitter (which can be detected by other vessels) this panel also displays the vessel’s current EM output.

The helm is located at the front of the new sim room, configured in a horizontal layout – that is, the three panels are laid out flat next to each other, rather than mounted vertically. This configuration can be used sitting or standing (the helm pedestal can be raised).

There’s debate on whether there should be a big viewscreen on the wall in front of the helm (Star Trek style). There’s certainly a space there for it, but the designers argue that the conn (Captain’s chair) will have its own screens for information and so a big viewscreen is just a distraction for everyone else.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Right now the helm is being used in simulations to develop flight procedures and training exercises. Other simulations involving the helm are helping to refine the accuracy of EM profiles, which predict how EM output by vessels dissipates over distance. Getting this right is fundamental to the accuracy of EMDAR systems.