Case Study: Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Spacecraft Interface Display

Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Spacecraft Interface Display

Customer Need

Crew Interface Subsystem (CIS) displays


IEE was tasked through a sub-contractor, to provide pilot Display Units (DU) for the Crew Interface System, slated for the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) and Crew Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The CCTS program’s goal has been to resume U.S.-based manned flights.

The subcontractor was responsible for the development of the Crew Interface Subsystem (CIS) which allows the pilot to maintain situational awareness and vehicle control, along with monitoring the vehicle’s health systems. 

The DU is tasked with presenting data, graphics and video in multiple formats of the pilots choosing, and communicates directly to the applications software.



Due to the extreme space environment characterized by extreme light and dark conditions, optical performance criteria was a key challenge, requiring additional lab testing to validate the best optical design approach. In addition, providing contrast ratio in high ambient light over wide viewing angles required special consideration.  



IEE recommended two 15-inch XGA displays in portrait orientation with high-bright, wide-angle viewing features. The display featured 14 bezel edge keys that allowed the pilot to navigate the display via menu selection, and side edge keys to control brightness, dimming and video source.

The extremely wide viewing angle of ±-85º H, ±-85º V exceeded the customer requirements significantly. In addition, a special film was added to the LCD’s film stack to accommodate the pilot’s eye reference point (ERP) which was above typical eye level. 

IEE’s expertise in optical design presented the optimal balance of contrast ratio for both high ambient light and dark ambient light, luminance, color gamut, and anti-reflective coating to meet the demanding requirements of space flight. 

IEE also produced the interface keypads (KP) for the CIS. Both the DU’s and KP’s have since flown successfully.

With careful attention to electronic component selection, radiation-tolerance and effects analysis, and component testing, IEE in collaboration with the CCTS Program Team, created a Display Unit design appropriate for the rigors of space flight.