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Automated and Adaptive Mission Planning for Orbital ExpressThe Orbital Express space mission was a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) lead demonstration of on-orbit satellite servicing scenarios, autonomous rendezvous, fluid transfers of hydrazine propellant, and robotic arm transfers of Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) components. Boeing's Autonomous Space Transport Robotic Operations (ASTRO) vehicle provided the servicing to the Ball Aerospace's Next Generation Serviceable Satellite (NextSat) client. For communication opportunities, operations used the high-bandwidth ground-based Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) along with the relatively low-bandwidth GEO-Synchronous space-borne Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) network. Mission operations were conducted out of the RDT&E Support Complex (RSC) at the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. All mission objectives were met successfully: The first of several autonomous rendezvous was demonstrated on May 5, 2007; autonomous free-flyer capture was demonstrated on June 22, 2007; the fluid and ORU transfers throughout the mission were successful. Planning operations for the mission were conducted by a team of personnel including Flight Directors, who were responsible for verifying the steps and contacts within the procedures, the Rendezvous Planners who would compute the locations and visibilities of the spacecraft, the Scenario Resource Planners (SRPs), who were concerned with assignment of communications windows, monitoring of resources, and sending commands to the ASTRO spacecraft, and the Mission planners who would interface with the real-time operations environment, process planning products and coordinate activities with the SRP. The SRP position was staffed by JPL personnel who used the Automated Scheduling and Planning ENvironment (ASPEN) to model and enforce mission and satellite constraints. The lifecycle of a plan began three weeks outside its execution on-board. During the planning timeframe, many aspects could change the plan, causing the need for re-planning. These variable factors, ranging from shifting contact times to ground-station closures and required maintenance times, are discussed along with the flexibility of the ASPEN tool to accommodate changes to procedures and the daily or long-range plan, which contributed to the success of the mission. This paper will present an introduction to ASPEN, a more in-depth discussion on its use on the Orbital Express mission, and other relative work. A description of ground operations after the SRP deliveries were made is included, and we briefly discuss lessons learned from the planning perspective and future work.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Chouinard, Caroline (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Knight, Russell (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Jones, Grailing (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Tran, Daniel (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Koblick, Darin (Northrop Grumman Corp. Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 3, 2015
Publication Date
May 12, 2008
Subject Category
Astronautics (General)
Meeting Information
SpaceOps 2008(Heidelberg)
Distribution Limits