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Autonomous Satellite Ground Operations

Description:

 
 

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms

OBJECTIVE: Develop prototype for Next Generation Air Force Enterprise Ground System to support autonomous satellite operations.

DESCRIPTION: In order to transition the AFSCN’s Space Operations Centers (SOC’s) to an autonomous operational mode the methods for handling and processing data (command, health and status monitoring, mission planning) needed by SOC’s needs to be redesigned. In addition technologies are needed which will enable performing automated command and control and specifically to handle complex non-deterministic scenarios. The research and analysis needs to account not only the current data carried by the SOCs, but also the data needed to control or future satellite systems. One area of immediate improvement would be the ability to autonomously reset the telemetry limit checking software to enable more agile on orbit adjustments to account for natural anomalies, aging of the spacecraft, natural drift in on orbit measurements and anomalies which are long lived. Additionally, in order to reduce costs and create more responsive ground control systems technologies are needed which will automate functionality that is currently largely performed by human operators. Over the last several years the use of intelligent systems technologies have made advances in several domains and have shown the ability to not only reduce manpower costs but also to provide the ability to detect and respond to anomalous conditions in a more timely fashion. The time is ripe to develop and develop intelligent system technologies and apply these towards Air Force satellite operations.

To affect autonomy within Air Force SOC’s an overall understanding of SOC mission requirements in terms of control and data needs has to be developed. The research and analysis needs not only cover normal operations with the SOC’s but also provide the ability to detect and respond to anomalous conditions. These systems need to operate within the larger Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) and its network of antennas. Technologies such as expert systems, machine learning, and model based systems need to be developed and implemented within a modular extensible framework. From the above analysis a robust and extensible network architecture and toolset capable of supporting autonomous operations will be developed and prototyped. One approach could be software applications that monitor and processes health and status (H&S), and satellite telemetry. This particular application would need to be able to process H&S and telemetry from multiple satellite missions (PNT, SSA, Imaging) and have a near-real time indication/warning system that would inform the multiple mission area satellite operators of anomalous behavior (via pop-up dialog boxes or other means) and recommend new telemetry limit points.

The Phase I portion should: 1) conduct analysis of SOC autonomous needs for all modes of operations with an emphasis on dynamic resetting of satellite limit checking, considering both current and future systems as described above. 2)Conduct simulations and loading studies to identify average and peak loads the autonomous systems would need to manage. 3) Develop basic architecture in terms of functions and capabilities for autonomous systems.4) Emphasize scaling to SOC operation of worldwide set of AFSCN antennas and identify initial architectural design components. 5) Emphasize modular and open approach for incremental upgrades. 6) Detailed analysis of the results which quantifies cost and time savings is also required.

PHASE I: Deliver: analysis of SOC autonomous needs for all modes of operations w an emphasis on dynamic resetting of satellite limit checking, simulations & loading studies to identify average & peak loads the autonomous systems, develop basic architecture in terms of functions & capabilities for autonomous systems & detailed analysis of the results which quantifies cost and time savings is also required.

PHASE II: Prototype net-centric compliant architecture that meets the data volume and requirements for autonomous operations. Generate architectural development strategy that will ensure an extensible framework to support future acquisitions. Simulate operations, including both predefined and new events, under relevant conditions using the modeling and simulation and architectural design components identified in Phase 1. Deliver the executable model.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Apply the results of phase two to prototype a basic modular Air Force automated ground operations center. Validate performance and scalability of prototype architecture to entire set of Air Force satellite systems.

REFERENCES:

  • J Catena, L Frank, R Saylor, C Weikel, “Satellite Ground Operations Automation – Lessons Learned and Future Approaches”, Proceedings of the International Telemetering Conference, May 2001, Las Vegas NV
  • Air Force Satellite Control Network Interface Control Document: Range Segment to Space Vehicle Center: ICD 000508, 28 Oct 2008.
  • D Cruickshank, “Automated Data Analysis in Satellite Operations”, SpaceOps 2006 Conference, Rome Italy, May 2006

KEYWORDS: Network Architecture, Open architecture, Automated satellite operations, Status and Monitoring Data, Automated satellite command and control

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