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Space Shuttle control graphics software ported to Linux

Jun 29, 2005 — by Henry Kingman — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Real-time animated graphics tools used in control applications for Hong Kong's subway system and NASA's Space Shuttle have been ported to AMD-64 Linux. Kinesix's Sammi application development kit for Linux includes vector graphics interface creation tools, runtimes, and network APIs, and targets aerospace, transportation, and defense.

Kinesis says that NASA's Johnson Space Center (pictured at right) has used the Unix version of Sammi since 1991, in 90 percent of the graphical displays for mission-control operations, including Space Station control and all Space Shuttle flights.

The Space Shuttle's dashboard
(Click to enlarge)

Sammi for Unix also helps run Hong Kong's subway system, one of the world's largest, with over 1,000 cars. Additional customers include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, NASA, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Rockwell International, and United Space Alliance.

According to Kinesix, Sammi helps developers quickly build live, vector-graphics based “dashboards” that can be driven across dozens or hundreds of mission-control or process-management workstations simultaneously.

Sammi for Linux is sold as an application development kit with three components:

  • Format Editor — A graphical, drag-and-drop tool with pre-built objects (screenshot) that help users quickly create vector-drawing dashboards without generating any graphics code (a common problem with other software products and in-house solutions, Kinesix says).
  • Runtime Environment — A manager that coordinates all commands, events, and data between networked users and the dashboards created in the Format Editor, resulting in a live graphical display updated in real time.
  • API — Used to manage network connectivity to a back-end data source, and related data transmission and conversion

According to Kinesix CEO Russ Jamerson, Sammi can “animate almost any amount of real-time data, whether it is satellite-telemetry information, nuclear power output, or pipeline-control readings.”

Jamerson adds, “Designing a single graphic meter to monitor a valve is easy. Designing multi-layered graphics to monitor hundreds of valves at once, across dozens of separate workstations, is far more difficult. And that's where Sammi comes in.”


Sammi for Linux is immediately available, with support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 for AMD's Opteron processor. Pricing varies depending on the number of development kits required, as well as the number of usage licenses.

Kinesix's page of hyper-cool Sammi screenshots can be found here.

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