You are here

AFSCN Mission Planning and scheduling tool


OBJECTIVE: Develop a means to automatically generate an optimized satellite ground resource utilization schedule capable of flexibly fusing electronically-generated routine and real-time priority access requests. DESCRIPTION: The Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) is a global network that supports 170+ Earth-orbiting satellites with 16 ground-based antennas of different sizes. The AFSCN is in need of an automated intelligent real-time planning and scheduling tool that will aid in the allocation of antenna and communication resources globally and locally. The challenge is to develop a more intelligent mission planning and tasking system, which is capable of looking at this problem under a new paradigm through innovative research and development. The innovative solution must address current challenges within the system which include the following three challenges: (1) The current solution is based on a concept of centralized scheduling. Distributing the scheduling/de-confliction reasoning process out toward the individual Space Operations Centers (SOCs) may provide a more cooperative schedule in a more timely fashion. This issue is further tested by the fact that communication channels between the SOCs provide limited bandwidth for information transmission. (2) Resource needs are dynamic and interrupted by real-time changes required by launch slips, ground equipment failures, and in-space emergencies. These require extremely rapid de-confliction (seconds to minutes), while minimizing changes to the existing schedule, especially in the nearest term aspects of the schedule (first few future hours). A system which can intelligently produce a notion of contingencies, perhaps based on learning acceptable solutions from past data, is needed to more intelligently create an acceptable"contingency"plan. (3) Satellite operations for sustainment and maintenance are extremely costly. These costs include the equipment required for satellite contact supports, personnel and the assets themselves. Presently significant time (almost a year) is needed to properly train and field an expert scheduler. A system which could intelligently interpret satellite telemetry/real time data feeds and fuse this information with: the existing schedule, asset owner objectives, etc, would provide significant saving costs. For example, the system could dynamically cancel unneeded contacts, reduce contact time, etc. All these actions are inevitably linked to costs. The detailed challenges described above are similar in aspect to those presented to Intelligent Transportation Systems; space systems are more complex, however, as the resource management components involved are highly variable. This leads to combinatorial explosion in the complexity of the problem. Innovative research in the areas of intelligent planning systems, multi-agent planning systems, machine learning or perhaps intelligent agents or embodied agent approaches may apply. The solutions must be able to quantitatively show time and cost reduction. The current system operates on a 24 hour cycle requiring a substantial amount of labor. The desired system would operate within minutes to seconds and show dynamic adaption to real-time events. This tool will pave the way for a new paradigm of intelligent AFSCN Mission Planning. PHASE I: Perform requirements analysis and develop preliminary design. Indicate operating environment and language to be used, functional and process flows, data associations, and inputs/outputs. Vendor must be able to quantify the benefit of the proposed solution. A prototype delivery is encouraged. Validating the tool using simulated or actual satellite contact data is also encouraged. PHASE II: Develop the Mission Planning Tool and show its robustness for mission adaptation and model editing. Validate the tool using simulated or actual satellite contact data for data from at least two ground stations. Document the details of the product and results to facilitate transition to acquisition. PHASE III: Military: The desired AF Program of Record would be the ESD 3.0 system. However, could provide wide applicability to many space mission systems. Commercial applications are anticipated due to similarity between the military and commercial space operations;may be used by NASA or NOAA. REFERENCES: 1. Trevor C. Sorensen, Eric J. Pilger, Mark S. Wood, and Miguel A. Nunes,"Comprehensive Open-architecture Space Mission Operations System (COSMOS),"AIAA Plug-n-Play Mission Operations Workshop, San Jose, California, May 16-17, 2011. 2.Miller, R. and Enzmann, R. (1966), SPACE MISSION PLANNING. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 140: 586591. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1966.tb50984.x. 3. Wayne Harris, Rick Blake, Duncan Woods, Roger Thompson, & Johan Stjernevi,"MISSION PLANNING FOR CONSTELLATIONS,"AIAA SpaceOps, 2002. 4. M.Tavana,"A priority assessment multi-criteria decision model for human spaceflight mission planning at NASA", Journal of the Operational Research Society 57, 1197-1215 (October 2006) | doi:10.1057/palgrave.jors.2602107. 5. Barbulescu, Laura, Howe, Adele, and Whitley, Darrel,"AFSCN Scheduling: How the Problem and Solution Have Evolved,"research partially supported by a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Materiel Command, USAF, under grants number F49620-00-1-0144 and F49620-03-1-0233.
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government