Autonomous Systems (AS)

Autonomous Systems (AS)

The Autonomous Systems (AS) project is developing software, sensors, and other technology to automate the operation of systems that will be needed for future NASA missions, such as spacecraft, habitats, and propellant loading systems.

The Autonomous Systems (AS) project is developing software, sensors, and other technology to automate the operation of systems that will be needed for future NASA missions, such as spacecraft, habitats, and propellant loading systems. Currently, the International Space Station is controlled remotely by a large team of experts in Houston. For future missions to distant destinations such as Mars, there will be speed-of-light communication delays of up to 22 minutes each way, which will require the astronauts to make more decisions without the assistance of people on Earth, especially when responding to failures. AS is developing technology to help the astronauts make these decisions, including Integrated Systems Health Management (ISHM) software and sensors to automatically detect and diagnose failures in a spacecraft or other system, and software to automatically plan sequences of actions to accomplish mission goals.

AS comprises two separate but complementary project elements: Habitat Automation (HA) and Autonomous Cryogenic Loading Operations (ACLO). The primary customers of AS are the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Autonomous Mission Operations (AMO) project, the AES Integrated Ground Operations Demonstration Units project, and the 21st Century Ground Systems Program. These activities also support the Office of the Chief Technologist’s technology roadmaps for developing or enabling ISHM and Autonomy (TA-4 Telerobotics and Autonomous Systems, TA-7 Human Exploration Destination Systems, and TA-13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing).

The HA project element is testing and has demonstrated the technology it is developing on the Deep Space Habitat in collaboration with AES AMO and AES Deep Space Habitat. The ACLO project element will test and demonstrate component technologies and autonomous cryogenic loading operations at Kennedy Space Center’s Cryogenic Test Laboratory.