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Jeremy Frank Gives Invited Presentation at Space Ops 2011

Mathematicians and computer scientists have developed numerous technologies for planning and scheduling, several of which have been applied to space mission operations. Among these technologies are numerous languages used to describe planning and scheduling problems in a manner suitable for solving by general-purpose software. Of interest to the space mission community are languages for describing complex problems involving descriptions of actors, actions these actors can perform, the conditions under which these actions succeed, and the effects that actions have. Automated planning software configured by models written in these languages has been successfully used on several space missions over the past decade. The benefits of using such languages are that space mission applications can be developed rapidly, at low cost, and be effectively sustained as the needs of the missions change. However, the basic building blocks of these languages are still abstracted from the realities of space mission operations, and the potential for confusion is a barrier to adoption of these languages and the powerful planning tools that accompany them.

In addition, as with linear programming, the limitations of the languages both limit their applicability and require an effort for their use, even when they are applicable; the state of the art in tools to solve problems posed using these languages is quite diverse. Finally, only a small number of applications employing these languages have been developed and few, if any, are industrial-strength, multi-purpose tools ready for common use in space mission applications. Introducing the fundamentals of these languages to the space mission community and describing the applications of these techniques to space mission operations will provide benefits to space mission operations practitioners. Despite its limitations, the model-based planning paradigm plays an important role in reducing up-front and recurring costs of space mission planning systems.

BACKGROUND: The SpaceOps workshops provide a highly focused environment for the discussion and debate of satellite operational issues where the emphasis is still on increasing operational productivity and performance to help leverage an actual cost benefit for future space missions. The 2011 workshop is the ninth in a regular series of biennial international conferences that started in 1995 at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK as the “Reducing the Costs of Spacecraft Ground Systems and Operations” (RCSGSO) workshop. Workshop delegates were nominated by agency and industry members of the SpaceOps executive committee and committee at large with about 45 people attending. This approach facilitated lively exchanges among delegates enabling useful, focused discussions on cost-saving experiences in an open forum environment.

The 2011 Space Ops workshop addresses three themes:

• Plan management systems for space missions
• Collision avoidance
• Agency/industry/academia partnerships

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: ETDD

Contact: Jeremy Frank

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