Member since: Feb 19, 2011, NASA Ames

Planning to Explore: Using a Coordinated Multisource Infrastructure to Overcome Present and Future Space Flight Planning Challenges

Shared by EDWARD BALABAN, updated on Jun 07, 2011


Author(s) :
Edward Balaban, Michael Orosz, Tatiana Kichkaylo, Andre Goforth, Adam Sweet, Robert Neches

Few human endeavors present as much of a planning and scheduling challenge as space flight, particularly manned space flight. Just on the operational side of it, efforts of thousands of people across hundreds of organizations need
to be coordinated. Numerous tasks of varying complexity and nature, from scientific to construction, need to be
accomplished within limited mission time frames. Resources need to be carefully managed and contingencies worked out, often on a very short notice. From the beginning of the NASA space program, planning has been done by large teams of domain experts working
months, sometimes years, to put together a single mission. This approach, while proven very reliable up to now, is becoming increasingly harder to sustain. Elevated levels of
NASA space activities, from deployment of the new Crew
Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and completion of the
International Space Station (ISS), to the planned lunar
missions and permanent lunar bases, will put an even
greater strain on this largely manual process. While several
attempts to automate it have been made in the past, none
have fully succeeded. In this paper we describe the current
NASA planning methods, outline their advantages and
disadvantages, discuss the planning challenges of upcoming
missions and propose a distributed planning/scheduling
framework (CMMD) aimed at unifying and optimizing the
planning effort. CMMD will not attempt to make the
process completely automated, but rather serve in a decision
support capacity for human managers and planners. It will
help manage information gathering, creation of partial and
consolidated schedules, inter-team negotiations,
contingencies investigation, and rapid re-planning when the
situation demands it. The first area of CMMD application
will be planning for Extravehicular Activities (EVA) and
associated logistics. Other potential applications, not only
in the space flight domain, and future research efforts will
be discussed as well.

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