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Probabilistic Risk Assessment for Decision Making During Spacecraft OperationsDecisions made during the operational phase of a space mission often have significant and immediate consequences. Without the explicit consideration of the risks involved and their representation in a solid model, it is very likely that these risks are not considered systematically in trade studies. Wrong decisions during the operational phase of a space mission can lead to immediate system failure whereas correct decisions can help recover the system even from faulty conditions. A problem of special interest is the determination of the system fault protection strategies upon the occurrence of faults within the system. Decisions regarding the fault protection strategy also heavily rely on a correct understanding of the state of the system and an integrated risk model that represents the various possible scenarios and their respective likelihoods. Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) modeling is applicable to the full lifecycle of a space mission project, from concept development to preliminary design, detailed design, development and operations. The benefits and utilities of the model, however, depend on the phase of the mission for which it is used. This is because of the difference in the key strategic decisions that support each mission phase. The focus of this paper is on describing the particular methods used for PRA modeling during the operational phase of a spacecraft by gleaning insight from recently conducted case studies on two operational Mars orbiters. During operations, the key decisions relate to the commands sent to the spacecraft for any kind of diagnostics, anomaly resolution, trajectory changes, or planning. Often, faults and failures occur in the parts of the spacecraft but are contained or mitigated before they can cause serious damage. The failure behavior of the system during operations provides valuable data for updating and adjusting the related PRA models that are built primarily based on historical failure data. The PRA models, in turn, provide insight into the effect of various faults or failures on the risk and failure drivers of the system and the likelihood of possible end case scenarios, thereby facilitating the decision making process during operations. This paper describes the process of adjusting PRA models based on observed spacecraft data, on one hand, and utilizing the models for insight into the future system behavior on the other hand. While PRA models are typically used as a decision aid during the design phase of a space mission, we advocate adjusting them based on the observed behavior of the spacecraft and utilizing them for decision support during the operations phase.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Meshkat, Leila (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 3, 2015
Publication Date
January 26, 2009
Subject Category
Quality Assurance and Reliability
Meeting Information
IEEE Reliability and Maintainability Symposium(Forth Worth, TX)
Distribution Limits
dynamic fault trees