ISSOrbit - A visualization of the International Space Station orbiting the Earth


I’d like to present our work on the ISSOrbit tool, a visualization of the International Space Station orbiting the Earth.
The basic idea is to create a photo realistic visualization using high quality 3d models and combine those with real time data provided through TLE for an accurate positioning of the ISS over ground.

The current simulation features:

Earth Simulation

  • 32768x16384 texture for each layer (ground, clouds etc.)
  • day to night transition; nightlights/citylights
  • atmosphere simulation (thanks to Robert Khalikov “Realistic Atmoshere 2.0” found on the market place)

Solar System

  • Earth-centered inertial (ECI) coordinate system
  • Accurate position of the Sun and Moon
  • Possibility to implement any celestial body of the solar system


  • solar panels facing the Sun
  • orientation and position using TLE data
  • online configuration of docked space crafts (Soyuz, Progress, HTV, Cygnus, Dragon)

We’re a small company working in several space projects for the German Space Agency. One of our main tasks is the daily operation at the Columbus Control Center.
It’s currently planned to use the software for public presentations at the German Space Operations Center near Munich/Germany and provide some more information about the ISS project.

Many thanks to Jean Paul for his contribution to this project, we wouldn’t have made it to this point without your work!

Here are some videos:

ISS Orbit Cinematic

ISS Orbit User Interface

and screenshots:



Looks interesting… Any plans to ‘zoom’ inside the station itself?

Was just reading about Hitomia before I saw this…What a disaster!

What happened, any inside scoop beyond what the media is saying?

Hey, thanks for the feedback. We currently do not plan to zoom into the station, we’ll be more concentrating to implement further spacecrafts and satellites and more advanced visualization of those.

And I’ve red about the Hitomi but do not have any more details on that. We’re not involved into this project.

Linux Support

Another purpose of using the Unreal Engine was the possibility to package the ISSOrbit software for Linux operating system. Our old tool was only able to run on Windows. Since the German Space Operations Center is very much interested to substitute the old Windows machines with Linux ones we decided to use UE to support both.

It’s not yet as easy as we thought it would be but we could manage it. Here’s a screenshot of the very first version of ISSOrbit running on Ubuntu 14.04.


Blue Marble