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The Habitat is a space simulation facility. Its primary purpose is to simulate the living and working environment of the OCESS Astronauts while they execute the mission. There have been three Habitats.

The Habitat is often referred to simply as 'The Hab'.

The Hawking

The original Habitat was called The Hawking, named after famous physicist Steven Hawking.

The Hawking, as depicted in Space

The original Habitat was first built in the Early '90s, and was designed to be collapsible. It constituted three primary rooms: the Interlock, the bathroom and the Longhouse. The original Interlock was made from Wooden Walls, hinged together so that they could fold up, while the Longhouse was a half-cylinder, framed with curved piping, and having a canvas overlaid on top. Additionally, the Habitat had an Airlock.

The Habitat was set up in school gyms for at least one mission before it found its long-term home at the old Ottawa Technical High School. In the late '90s, OCESS moved to the Bronson Street Media Centre as the School Board was going to shut down the Ottawa Technical High School. The Habitat moved with Spacesim, but the old Airlock would not fit into the limited space. A new, crawl-through airlock was built for this facility.

Why the Habitat was Forced to Change

Spacesim continued undisturbed at the Media Centre until the Spring of 2001. During this year, the Board decided to reclaim the Media Centre, and discourage Spacesim from continuing. One method of discouragement was random fire inspections. The Board successfully deemed the Old Habitat a Fire Hazard, despite the fact that a mission commander attempted to light the canvas on fire with a lighter in front of him. The OCESS managed to reclaim its old space at the Old Ottawa Technical High School, now known as the 440 Albert Street Administrative Centre, but at the cost of constructing a new Habitat to meet Board specifications.

The New Habitat would require to meet all building and safety codes, have official blueprints, and moreover have these blueprints stamped by a Professional Engineer. Additionally electrical work had to be approved by a certified electrician.

The Hawking II

The Hawking II was referred to as The New Habitat during construction, shortly thereafter named The Hawking II, and finally officially named The Brahe during 2002-03. Since then, this name does not appear to have stuck, and it is simply called The Hab.

The Hawking II was designed by Alex Ghosh, Ross Green, and Nikolas Zuchowicz, with strong influences from David Owen, who was then a recent alumnus. It was originally designed to be modular, with each room receiving its power through the Interlock, effectively "plugging in", so that the modules could be arranged in any orientation. The Interlock was designed to handle five sub-modules, and was supposed to have power and access doors for that many. Unfortunately, due to space constraints and electrical concerns, such a configuration became unfeasible, and the Habitat was locked into its current setup and hardwired.

The Original Plans called for an Interlock, Hotlab, Bathroom, Longhouse, and Airlock. Construction took place during the Fall of 2001 and the Winter of 2002. The Longhouse was the first module to be finished, and was used for that year's Mission Alpha. The Hotlab was not constructed in time for The new Habitat's first mission, and instead was constructed during the 2002-2003 year.

Originally envisioned as having an aluminum sheet-metal structure, drywall was selected as the material of choice for cost and safety concerns. The Drywall was easier and cheaper to repair, completely immune to fire and emergency exits could be created anywhere as required.

The Hawking III

Main article: Hawking III

The Hawking III is the third Hab built in the Hawking series and was constructed as a result of OCESS moving to a new room. The Hawking III is smaller than the previous Hab, and is roughly square in shape. In addition to having a smaller footprint, its ceiling is significantly lower than that of the previous Hab, costing the astronauts valuable storage space while giving the interior a cramped feel and making the new Hab a more realistic approximation of space travel. The Hawking III is the first Hab to be constructed by professionals contracted by the OCDSB. The Hawking III was built and completed during the 2008-2009 school year, and was first used for the 2009 mission, Genesis 2009.

It is built mostly of drywall panels and metal studs, with one of the rooms (Control Room) being panelled in plywood. It is double-layered, with an inner and outer panel of either drywall or plywood and an internal space of approximately four inches --- the depth of a 2x4 plank.


In The Hawking the Interlock served as living space and command centre for the Astronauts, containing their kitchen and control units. Additionally, the Airlock was off of the Interlock. The Longhouse was primarily used as a Laboratory, but was often used for sleeping space. The Longhouse connected the Bathroom to the Interlock.

Within the The Hawking II, the Longhouse was dedicated solely to living space, while the scientific aspects have been split into a new Hotlab. Originally planned to be the Hotlab, the room connecting Interlock and Longhouse became the Bathroom. The new Hotlab was closer to the Planetary Surface allowing samples to be easily passed within. The only evidence of the old Hotlab within the Bathroom is some structural reinforcement around the location where a docking port for Robbie was supposed to go. In 2007-08, the Hotlab, considered to be too big, was taken down, and construction on a smaller Hotlab began; this was only used on Mission Red Dawn 2008 because soon after Spacesim had to move to a different room.

In The Hawking III, the Interlock of habitats past split into two separate rooms: the Control Room, the command centre, and the Interlock, now the kitchen and communal area. The Hotlab was thankfully granted more room than before. Other rooms include the Engineering Closet, which is the Beta brains of the habitat, the Longhouse, which is the living quarters of the Astronauts, the Bathroom, and the Airlock.

Environmental Simulation

The Habitat was simulated using software known as CMES. It keeps track of the temperature and pressure of all rooms, as well as the status on the doors and airlocks (open/closed). It now uses a different combination of programs developed by Dr. Jim Magwood to accomplish the same function. Most notable among these is EECOM for environmental and door monitoring.

The Habitat can be observed by Mission Control through a series of cameras, as well as an extension of the Simulation Software.

Electrical System

The Habitat receives its power through the Interlock. There is a small power cabinet on the back wall.

Simulation Habitat

Within the confines of the simulation, the habitat is a large structure. It is made of laminated aluminum and foam to absorb radiation and meteor impacts. This description is not to be mistaken for reality, as the Hab is actually constructed of metal studs and drywall.


Hawking I: Not much is known about the camera structure.

Hawking II: The Cameras were run off a dedicated system designed to run the Corel Camera systems. The Computer designated to preform this vital task was named Stonehenge, with the monitor being the Eye of Stonehenge. In the Hawking II the entire habitat was viewable from any TV, and there were four televisions wired into this network. Stonehenge was located in Mission Control giving it complete control over which camera feed was displayed on any monitor. The Astronauts were assigned two Televisions, one in the Longhouse (Doyle) and one in the Interlock. MC had two. The Simulators used an entirely separate camera system based off light switches in the Simulator Area.

Hawking III:

The camera system has gone through a new variation every year since the original implementation in the Hawking III:

2009-2011: The camera system is a complex system which can be modified as needed. Unlike the camera system in the Hawking II, each camera operates independently, as the Corel Cam server stopped working after the move to room W027. Each camera connects to a switching system on the Simulator Loft. The televisions in MC are connected either directly to the camera through a splitter, or connected to the switching system. There are four televisions in Mission Control one to each of Longhouse and Interlock and two to C&C.

2011-12: The current camera system is a system that has 8 camera rails that connect two MC cameras and 6 infrared Habitat cameras. The system allows multiple branches off the boards. The simulators get all 8 feeds which splits off the six Habitat feeds to VCRS for signal boosting and recording. These six than go to MC. The Habitat feeds have simulator switches connected to them and run through the ceiling into the CNC alpha system patch box for camera repairs. This than goes back through the ceiling to the Habitat termination board which splits off to the 4 TVs giving them all the necessary feeds.

Voice Communication

Hawking I

Not much is known about communications in the original Hawking. However, it is presumed that all voice communication was done by radio.

Hawking II

The Hawking II used a mixture of radio headsets and wired telephones to communicate with MC and Astronauts on EVA's or IVA's. A telephone in Mission Control next to the server tower and Video Control monitor was wired in parallel with a telephone in the Interlock of the Habitat, and the power source was located in Mission Control. The telephones were used for normal communication with the Habitat, as the radio headsets were often unreliable. The exception was a tranceiver powered by Harolde, which was wired into the Mission Control speaker system allowing everyone in Mission Control to hear all radio chatter.

Hawking III

The first system voice communication system in the Hawking III was designed in 2008-09 and used a single phone in MC and a single phone in the habitat's Control Room. Buzzers were used to simulate a telephone ringer. This system was quite archaic and meant that the astronauts couldn't communicate with each other if on EVA's, IVA's or if rooms lost pressure splitting up the Astronauts. For the 2009-10 mission Stefan De Young, Matt Farkas-Dyck, and Chris Hawthorne designed a system with 6 phones; 1 in each room of the habitat excluding the Bathroom and Engineering Closet, and one in MC. Two circuits exist, which allow two conversations to occur simultaneously. Each phone in the Habitat can switch between either circuit, but the Mission Control phone is limited to a single Comm circuit. Currently, only the old buzzer system that exists between MC and C&C exists. There are currently no plans to expand this to the other rooms in the Habitat.

See Also