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Jeremy Frank Presents Autonomous Systems and Operations Work at the AIAA Intelligent Systems Workshop
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Jeremy Frank Presents Autonomous Systems and Operations Work at the AIAA Intelligent Systems Workshop

Dr. Jeremy Frank presented an overview of the Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) funded Autonomous Systems and Operations (ASO) project to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Intelligent Systems Workshop, held at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo. Dr. Kerry McGuire (NASA Johnson Space Center) and Ms. Angie Haddock and Ms. Brooke Allen (Marshall Space Flight Center) also presented this overview at the Human Research Program (HRP) Crew Autonomy Technical Interchange Meeting, hosted at NASA Ames Research Center. Both presentations were given the week of August 6, 2018.

The presentation describes the challenges of human spaceflight autonomous mission operations and how a combination of technologies, including artificial intelligence and human factors, are needed to overcome these challenges. Three elements of the ASO project were described, along with a roadmap of future development.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of the AMO project is to define vehicle capabilities, roles and responsibilities of ground and crew, and their interactions in order to enable NASA missions to distant destinations. Future human spaceflight missions will place crews at large distances and light-time delays from Earth. The one-way light-time delay to the Moon is 1.2 seconds, which is sufficient to make continuous control (e.g., for landing) difficult or impossible to conduct from Earth. One-way light-time delays to destinations such as Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) at close approach range from seconds to minutes. The one-way light-time delay to Mars ranges from 3 minutes (at conjunction) to 22 minutes (at opposition). NASA will require autonomous mission operations when spacecraft crew are far away from Earth, because communication with the ground will incur long communication latencies. These missions will require changing the capabilities of spacecraft, changing the roles and responsibilities of ground and crew, and changing the ways that ground and crew interact during the mission.

Autonomous Mission Operations is the capability of a crewed spacecraft to plan and fly a mission with minimum support from the ground. The AMO project is building advanced technology to conduct experiments both onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and during the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)/Orion Exploration Flight Test in order to demonstrate crew autonomy and Mission Control Center (MCC) automation. In the experiment onboard ISS during Increments 39 and 40, ISS crew used new technology and operational protocols to recommend water sampling activities normally scheduled by the ground, analyzed both water quality and water analyzer hardware performance, and reported hardware problems and recommended solutions during a planned off-nominal use case. ISS crew also used new technology to assess the performance of onboard computers and report problems and recommended solutions. This experiment has demonstrated how future crews can autonomously operate spacecraft assets similar to those expected to be on future spacecraft — regardless of destination. AMO is a collaboration between NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Johnson Space Center, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

POINT OF CONTACT: Jeremy Frank, jeremy.d.frank@nasa.gov

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