Safely and efficiently launching payloads and vehicles into space requires a carefully orchestrated coordination between critical assets, expensive resources, and highly trained personnel performing complicated and safety-critical tasks. Managing this coordination is complicated by the use of disparate and unconnected tools such as paper checklists, Excel spreadsheets, siloed databases, and voice communication. While automated systems such as robots and smart sensors can help, the goal of this proposal is to automate processes and not the individual tasks themselves. The Automated System for Managing Assets, Resources, and Tasks (A-SMART) system will focus on identifying inefficiencies in ground operations due to use of paper procedures, unconnected data, and disconnected workers. A-SMART will also focus on increasing efficiencies of ground operations by collecting data about assets, resources, and personnel utilization in a common database that can be mined by business intelligence tools to identify dwell times, bottlenecks, and unsafe operations. At the heart of A-SMART is an automated, electronic procedure platform called PRIDE that can coordinate personnel with assets and resources while performing ground operations tasks. PRIDE is already being used by the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral for range safety operations. A-SMART will employ advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to track asset and resource utilization while incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) and smart sensor data processing to pull analyzed data into procedures automatically. The A-SMART system can automate many of the complicated processes associated with ground operations and automatically generate the data needed for signing off on launch decisions. The benefits to NASA of A-SMART will be safer and more efficient ground operations as the tempo of launches increases.
This research will have immediate application to ground automation at NASA KSC. PRIDE is already being used at several NASA centers and this research will increase its capabilities. NASA AFRC is using PRIDE for ground tests on the Air Volt test stand. PRIDE has been selected for use in ground operations for the VIPER robotic mission to the moon with operations at NASA ARC. Human spaceflight operations at NASA JCS are another NASA application.
The electronic procedure platform proposed in this project is being used by major oil field services companies, chemical manufacturers, commercial space companies, and the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral. Each of these existing customers is a potential customer for this research. We will license the software developed under this project separately as an add-on to the existing product.