Gateway Vehicle Systems Management Demonstration Completed

Illustration of NASA’s lunar-orbiting Gateway and a human landing system in orbit around the Moon. (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — The Advanced Exploration Systems’ (AES) Autonomous Systems and Operations (ASO) team, including members from NASA Ames’ Intelligent Systems Division, developed and demonstrated new technologies designed to automate the operation of Gateway, a key element of the Artemis mission. (Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides vital support for a long-term human return to the lunar surface, as well as a staging point for deep space exploration.)

These novel technologies are designed to perform tightly integrated planning, plan execution, fault detection, fault impacts reasoning, and fault recovery on the spacecraft power distribution system and life support systems. The ASO team demonstrated fault-isolation and ‘most functional state’ restoration capabilities, and infused this technology into the Gateway Program’s Vehicle Systems Management Design Team at Johnson Space Center for subsequent development and maturation as part of the Gateway flight software.

The demonstration scenario featured replanning of a spacecraft “burn” (firing of its onboard rocket motors) after a fault.  The replanned burn causes numerous disruptions to the mission timeline, requiring replanning. This year’s work leveraged prior years’ efforts, but featured significant new developments with mission management and automated planning technology, in addition to novel fault detection modeling. Replanning required knowledge of the current operating context, reasoning about temporal constraints and different mission preferences.  The resulting demonstration successfully handled roughly a dozen scenario variations successfully.

This demonstration was attended by AES Exploration Capability program staff and the Gateway Vehicle System Management Design Team. The resulting technology is slated for infusion into the Gateway Program starting in fiscal year ‘22.

BACKGROUND: For over 50 years, NASA’s crewed missions have been confined to the Earth-Moon system, where speed-of-light communications delays between crew and ground are practically nonexistent. This ground-centered mode of operations, with a large, ground-based support team is not sustainable for NASA’s future human exploration missions to Mars. Future astronauts will need smarter tools employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to make decisions without inefficient communication back and forth with ground-based mission control.  These demonstrations show that astronauts tasks ranging from living and working, to piloting, can benefit from AI technology development.

PROGRAM FUNDING: Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program, Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

ARC TEAM: Gordon Aaseng, Minh Do, Jeremy Frank, Chuck Fry, Chris Knight, John Ossenfort, Michael Scott, Adam Sweet, and Henry Valdez