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OCAMS System Release 3 Deployed at JSC

The third release of the Orbital Communications Adapter Management System (OCAMS) was installed for International Space Station (ISS) operations on January 22, 2010. This version significantly extends the automation of the OCA Officer’s work by handling:

  • Automated delivery of files that are downlinked from the ISS
  • Automated notification about file operations via email to customers and/or by adding a comment to the electronic flight note

The automation is controlled by rules specifying how files of different types (e.g., images vs. medical reports) are to be processed. The OCAMS GUI shows the status of each automated operation and allows manual overrides at any time.

OCA Officers estimate that OCAMS Release 3.0, combined with the mirroring, archiving, and logging automation deployed since July 2008, will on average reduce the time required for routine work by 60%. This reduction enables better response to unexpected situations and will allow backroom positions to be consolidated after additional automation for uplink and downlink operations is added later this year.

During the week of January 18-22, Bill Clancey and Maarten Sierhuis held ten customer meetings to review the concept of operations for Release 4. In R4 OCAMS will receive and validate file operation requests from customers, then after flight controller approval, interact with the SWRDFSH file transfer program to modify files and directories onboard the ISS.

BACKGROUND: OCAMS is the first application of intelligent multi-agent system (MAS) technology in NASA’s mission control operations. OCAMS was developed using NASA Ames’s Brahms multi-agent software tools. Brahms provides a “from simulation to implementation” software engineering methodology, in which a multi-agent simulation of people’s work practice is turned into a multi-agent workflow system that automates part of the process and integrates seamlessly with existing work practices and systems. OCAMS rules are modifiable by Mission Operations Directorate personnel using a rule editor that allows operations to be added or modified as requirements change.

OCAMS is a partnership project between researchers and developers from NASA Ames Research Center and flight controllers from NASA Johnson Space Center. Installation performed in collaboration with the JSC Mission Operations Directorate Facilities Development and Operations Contract (FDOC).


  • JSC: Tim Hall (DO48), Deborah Hood (DO47, BAR), Tyson Tucker (DO47, USA), Jason Toschlog (DO47, USA), Tyler Doubrava (MS4, USA), Chuck Shultz (DA39, Barrios Technology)
  • FDOC/Lockheed Martin: Paul Lansing, Howard (Wes) Neill, Michael McKibbin, Jason Walker
  • Sue Blumenberg (SGT Inc.), Bob Nado (SGT Inc.), Mike Scott (Perot Systems), Chin Seah (SGT Inc.), Ron van Hoof (Perot Systems)

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: OCAMS is funded through an Intercenter Task Agreement between JSC/MOD and the Ames Intelligent Systems Division.

Contact: Bill Clancey (ARC/IHMC); Maarten Sierhuis (ARC/CMU)


The Orbital Communications Adapter (OCA) Officer is responsible for uplinking and downlinking all files to and from the International Space Station. These files include schedules, procedures, commands, email, photographs, health data, newspapers, etc. The agent-based OCA Mirroring System (OCAMS) developed at Ames automates part of the OCA Officer's workload.

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