Intelligent Agents for Scheduling Space Communications
With the advent of the new exploration initiative, the number of customers and missions to be supported by the NASA Space Communications infrastructure will increase dramatically. As well, new antenna types to be developed in support of exploration will increase, thus increasing the complexity of constraints governing the use of space communications assets. In a new concept, the communications architecture will evolve from the present legacy assets but with the addition of new assets. This future architecture will need a radically new user interface paradigm that must allow space communications missions to both unequivocally specify their requests and also iteratively get those requests integrated with those of other users in increasingly crowded bandwidths. It is our contention that such an interface cannot be developed easily with conventional means, but instead is best designed using intelligent agent technologies, resulting in an intelligent space communications scheduling agent for each user/mission. Therefore, to meet the increased scheduling needs we propose to: design and develop software scheduling agents to interface with existing space communications scheduling engines, using local working databases of active schedule possibilities; to incorporate in the agents models of user preferences for communications requests, conflict resolution and notification of schedule changes; to allow the user/mission to vary the autonomy of the scheduling agent; and to imbue the agents with the capability for planful interactions for peer-to-peer resolution of schedule conflicts.
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