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Advanced Exploration Systems Division

Autonomous Mission Operations (AMO)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The AES Autonomous Mission Operations project will develop understanding of the impacts of increasing communication time delays on mission operations and develop automation technologies to mitigate the impacts. The technologies are expected to reduce operations costs as well. This will be tested on ISS in FY14. The results of this project are being incorporated and built upon in the Autonomous Systems and Operations project.  

Future human spaceflight missions will occur with crews and spacecraft at large distances, with long communication delays to the Earth. The one-way light-time delay to the Moon is 1.3 seconds, which is sufficient to make some scenarios (e.g. landing) difficult or impossible to conduct from Earth. One-way communication delays to human exploration destinations such as Near Earth Asteroids (NEA) 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). As the communication delays increase, the crews in the spacecraft must execute, and manage, much of the mission themselves. Throughout the course of a mission, as distances increase, NASA must continue to migrate operations functionality from the Mission Control Center flight control room to the vehicle for use by the crew. The role of the ground control teams and systems will evolve away from real-time support to more long-range planning, diagnosis, analysis and prognostics support role. While the vehicle systems and crew must take on the role of onboard daily schedule execution, planning, and systems management. Both ground and vehicle systems will require automation to maximize crew functionality, minimize unnecessary overhead, and reduce operating costs. This project is to understand the impacts of increasing communications time delays on operations and to develop technologies to mitigate the impacts.

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