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Use of Soft Computing Technologies for a Qualitative and Reliable Engine Control System for Propulsion SystemsThe problem to be addressed in this paper is to explore how the use of Soft Computing Technologies (SCT) could be employed to improve overall vehicle system safety, reliability, and rocket engine performance by development of a qualitative and reliable engine control system (QRECS). Specifically, this will be addressed by enhancing rocket engine control using SCT, innovative data mining tools, and sound software engineering practices used in Marshall's Flight Software Group (FSG). The principle goals for addressing the issue of quality are to improve software management, software development time, software maintenance, processor execution, fault tolerance and mitigation, and nonlinear control in power level transitions. The intent is not to discuss any shortcomings of existing engine control methodologies, but to provide alternative design choices for control, implementation, performance, and sustaining engineering, all relative to addressing the issue of reliability. The approaches outlined in this paper will require knowledge in the fields of rocket engine propulsion (system level), software engineering for embedded flight software systems, and soft computing technologies (i.e., neural networks, fuzzy logic, data mining, and Bayesian belief networks); some of which are briefed in this paper. For this effort, the targeted demonstration rocket engine testbed is the MC-1 engine (formerly FASTRAC) which is simulated with hardware and software in the Marshall Avionics & Software Testbed (MAST) laboratory that currently resides at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, building 4476, and is managed by the Avionics Department. A brief plan of action for design, development, implementation, and testing a Phase One effort for QRECS is given, along with expected results. Phase One will focus on development of a Smart Start Engine Module and a Mainstage Engine Module for proper engine start and mainstage engine operations. The overall intent is to demonstrate that by employing soft computing technologies, the quality and reliability of the overall scheme to engine controller development is further improved and vehicle safety is further insured. The final product that this paper proposes is an approach to development of an alternative low cost engine controller that would be capable of performing in unique vision spacecraft vehicles requiring low cost advanced avionics architectures for autonomous operations from engine pre-start to engine shutdown.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Trevino, Luis
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Brown, Terry
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Crumbley, R. T.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 12, 2001
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Meeting Information
Software Engineering and Applications(Anaheim, CA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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