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DSM Autonomy System

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC18C0178
Agency Tracking Number: 150297
Amount: $749,925.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T11
Solicitation Number: STTR_16_P2
Solicitation Year: 2016
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-05
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-07-04
Small Business Information
7901 Sandy Spring Road, Suite 511
Laurel, MD 20707-2936
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Brendan O'Connor
 () -
Business Contact
 Everett Cary
Phone: (301) 345-1535
Research Institution
 University of Pittsburgh
1238 Benedum Hall, 3700 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261-0001
United States

 Federally Funded R&D Center (FFRDC)

Increasing the level of spacecraft autonomy for any future space mission will make it more affordable and capable, allowing NASA to do more science with less operations costs. For future Distributed Space Missions (DSMs) however, spacecraft autonomy is critical to reducing costs to make the missions affordable and practical. The use of multiple satellites to simultaneously sample science observations in multiple spatial, spectral, angular, and temporal dimensions is feasible only if the mission operations costs do not scale up with the number of vehicles in the constellation. Accordingly, flight software technology that enables safe, cost-efficient on-board operation of satellite constellations is required. In Phase I of this project, Emergent Space Technologies, Inc. (Emergent) focused on the development of a highly capable executive for automating on-board satellite operations and coordinating operations between DSM satellites. Called Distributed Automation Suite for Heuristic Execution and Response (DASHER), the executive is compatible with NASA’s core Flight Software (cFS) suite to leverage existing flight software technology that has been proven on missions such as LRO, MMS and GPM and extend it to DSMs. In Phase I, we successfully demonstrated an autonomous Executive. In Phase II, we extend the executive function to provide a full cFS-based DSM autonomy framework that includes multiple planning agents, scheduling at the DSM level and at the satellite level, and fault detection, isolation, and recovery (FDIR). DSMs using this framework will be able to autonomously plan, schedule, and execute activities using shared resources. We demonstrate the technology in a realistic hardware-in-the-loop simulation for conceptual DSM missions targeted at Earth remote sensing.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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