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Autonomous Systems and Operations Project Demonstrates Vehicle Systems Management Capability to Gateway Program
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Autonomous Systems and Operations Project Demonstrates Vehicle Systems Management Capability to Gateway Program

The Advanced Exploration System- (AES) funded Autonomous Systems and Operations (ASO) project demonstrated a Vehicle System Management (VSM) capability to the Gateway program. VSM integrates automated planning, plan execution, and fault management with flight software. VSM is able to detect faults, build plans to actively isolate initially ambiguous faults, and build plans to restore the ‘most functional state’ of a vehicle system in the presence of faults, while also taking into account mission timelines and objectives. VSM was demonstrated in multiple scenarios involving crew onboard Gateway, a cargo vehicle docking event, and under a variety of fault conditions. This demonstration employed a software simulation of an Orion spacecraft in lieu of Gateway due to its fidelity, capabilities for injecting faults, and scale; the Orion Crew Module simulates the Gateway Habitation And Logistics Outpost (HALO), and the Service Module simulates the Gateway Power and Propulsion Element (PPE).

VSM was demonstrated to the Gateway Vehicle System Management Working Group (Julia Badger, Johnson Space Center - JSC), the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program (Denise Varga, HQ), and the Gateway Flight Software team (David Swartwout, JSC), as well as roughly two dozen other attendees from these groups. VSM was developed as a core Flight Software (cFS) application. The demonstration was performed on commodity desktop computers, but most of the VSM elements were previously demonstrated running on embedded hardware running a real-time operating system. The demonstration included multiple simulation scenario walkthroughs, in-depth discussion of the VSM design, and discussion of lessons learned and next steps.

BACKGROUND: For over 50 years NASA's crewed missions have been confined to the Earth-Moon system, where speed-of-light communications delays between crew and ground are practically nonexistent. This ground-centered mode of operations, with a large, ground-based support team, is not sustainable for NASA’s future human exploration missions to Mars and other more distant locations in the solar system. Future astronauts will need smarter tools employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to make decisions without inefficient communication back and forth with ground-based mission control. Gateway will also operate in an uncrewed mode for months at a time, emphasizing a need for autonomous operations. These demonstrations of VSM capability inform the design of the Gateway and are a deliverable described in a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between the ASO project and Gateway.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program, Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

TEAM: Gordon Aaseng, Eric Barszcz, Minh Do, Jeremy Frank, Chuck Fry, Jeremy Johnson, Christopher Knight, John Ossenfort, Michael Scott , Adam Sweet, and Henry Valdez

Special thanks to the Rapid Prototyping Laboratory and the Crew Office at JSC for their Orion simulation infrastructure.


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