The Moon, Mars, and Beyond
In September as part of NASA Stennis Space Center’s Autonomous Systems Lab Team, D2K Engineers demonstrated core capabilities of autonomous operations capabilities for NASA’s Lunar Gateway to NASA-JSC Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Gateway industry partners!
The Autonomous Systems (AS) Project is developing software, sensors, and other technology to automate the operation of systems that will be needed for future NASA missions, such as spacecraft, habitats, and propellant loading systems. It is currently using two testbeds to evaluate this technology: the 2nd Generation Deep Space Habitat at Johnson Space Center (Figure1), and the Cryogenic Test bed Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center. Currently, the International Space Station is controlled remotely by a large team of experts in Houston. For future missions to distant destinations such as Mars, there will be speed-of-light communication delays of up to 22 minutes each way, which will require the astronauts to make more decisions without the assistance of people on Earth, especially when responding to failures. AS is developing technology to help the astronauts make these decisions, including Integrated Systems Health Management software and sensors to automatically detect and diagnose failures in a spacecraft or other system, and software to automatically plan sequences of actions to accomplish mission goals.
Building on our years of experience in autonomous and intelligent system development and expertise with NASA’s Platform for Autonomous Systems (NPAS), The ASL team delivered five prototype autonomous systems managers within 4 months! This platform allowed us to realistically demonstrate key interactions between multiple levels of autonomous managers within the Gateway.
Organized in a hierarchy of responsibility and authority, there will be managers for nearly every level of the Gateway’s system – including individual components managers, system managers, module managers, and the Gateway vehicle manager.
Among the capabilities demonstrated (Figure 2) were scheduling of activities/tasks that could occur when there is no crew in the Gateway, the registration of new capabilities when a new Module is docked, and the detection and signaling of failed tasks within a System Manager to its Module Manager and then to the Vehicle Manager.