Methodology for prototyping increased levels of automation for spacecraft rendezvous functions
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The Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) necessitates higher levels of automation than previous NASA vehicles due to program requirements for automation, including Automated Rendezvous and Docking (AR&D). Studies of spacecraft development often point to the locus of decision-making authority between humans and computers (i.e. automation) as a prime driver for cost, safety, and mission success. Therefore, a critical component in the CEV development is the determination of the correct level of automation. To identify the appropriate levels of automation and autonomy to design into a human space flight vehicle, NASA has created the Function-specific Level of Autonomy and Automation Tool (FLOAAT). This research develops a methodology for prototyping increased levels of automation for spacecraft rendezvous functions. This methodology was used to evaluate the accuracy of the FLOAAT-specified levels of automation, via prototyping. Two spacecraft rendezvous planning tasks were selected and then prototyped in Matlab using Fuzzy Logic (FL) techniques and existing Shuttle rendezvous trajectory algorithms. The prototyped functions are the determination of the maximum allowable Timeof- IGnition (TIG) slip for a rendezvous phasing burn and the evaluation of vehicle position relative to Transition initiation (Ti) position constraints. The methodology for prototyping rendezvous functions at higher levels of automation is judged to be a promising technique. The results of the prototype indicate that the FLOAAT recommended level of automation is reasonably accurate and that FL can be effectively used to model human decision-making used in spacecraft rendezvous. FL has many desirable attributes for modeling human decision-making, which makes it an excellent candidate for additional spaceflight automation applications. These conclusions are described in detail as well as recommendations for future improvements to the FLOAAT method and prototyped rendezvous functions.
Hart, Jeremy Jay (2007). Methodology for prototyping increased levels of automation for spacecraft rendezvous functions. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from