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Human Research Program

Human Factors and Habitability Assessment Tool

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Human Factors and Habitability Assessment Tool

Currently, no established methods exist to collect near real-time human factors and habitability data during spaceflight missions. Human factors and habitability data are instead acquired at the end of missions during post-flight crew debriefs. These debriefs occur weeks or often longer after events have occurred, which forces a significant reliance on incomplete human memory. Without a means to collect near real-time data, small issues may have a cumulative effect and continue to cause crew frustration and inefficiencies. In addition, there is currently no means of documenting the location and movement of crewmembers within a vehicle or habitat, which prevents a thorough analysis of traffic flow, space utilization, and other efficiency issues. This type of information could be very valuable in designing next generation spacecraft and habitats. This research seeks to address the Human Research Program (HRP) gap concerning tools that can be used to evaluate habitability concepts. The tools and methods proposed for development as part of this Directed Research Project (DRP) include two major components: habitability assessment tools, and space utilization assessment methods. Multiple tools will play a role in assessing habitability based on human performance data. Software-based tools will provide crewmembers with the opportunity to self-report habitability and human factors observations near real-time. In addition to this capability, software-based tools will have the capability to administer a targeted set of questions related to habitability and human factors concerns deemed specifically to be of interest. The targeted use of video will also provide crewmembers with the opportunity to provide insight into human factors and habitability observations within a habitat or vehicle, with associated training, scheduling, and flow of information to maximize the impact of these videos. The second major component proposed in this DRP is the evaluation of space utilization assessment methods. This effort will result in tools to aid in the design of the next generation of vehicles and habitats. In order to most effectively design layouts of interiors, it is important for designers to understand how space is utilized. This includes details such as the time crewmembers spend at workstations and traffic patterns between workstations. This DRP proposes to examine potential benefits of using automated methods to collect such data. As part of preliminary work, several tools and methods for near real-time data collection were tested during NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 16, a space analog that takes place in a habitat on the ocean floor. Based on the success of the developed software tool, current plans call for transitioning this tool to operations for International Space Station (ISS). In parallel, work will continue on objectives related to investigating means to assess space utilization of habitats and vehicles through strategies such as technology assessments, ground-based experimentation, or exploration of collaboration opportunities.

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