Skip to Main Content
As systems engineering and engineering management cadets at the United States Military Academy, we are working with NASA for our senior-year capstone project. In concert with "NASA's 2006 Strategic Goals," our team is exploring how to more safely land autonomous spacecraft and more reliably guide autonomous surface rovers. Employing Value-Focused Thinking (Keeney, 1992), we have created a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet model that will assist NASA in determining what capabilities ought to be considered for the variety of sensors being developed. Because of conflicting objectives, complex alternatives, and major uncertainties associated with space operations, we are leveraging Multiple Objective Decision Analysis (Kirkwood, 1997) to both identify vital capabilities as well as illuminate critical shortcomings in the design of future sensor suites on autonomous space systems. Specifically, our model is a decision support system that examines space exploration as a series of sequential phases, each with a distinct set of requirements and demands. Because of trade-offs between the various phases, our model will provide NASA decision-makers with a greater sense of where they can focus their efforts so that the chances of mission success will increase. While neophytes in the realm of space exploration, we believe the Interactive Management Science (Savage, 2003) architecture featured in our model will allow experts at NASA to input their own parameters - parameters that we know will inevitably change because of different mission requirements and continual advances in technology. In addition to assisting NASA with returning to the moon, our model will also help with other space exploration missions, including the Extended Lunar Outpost Architecture, Mars Outpost and Science Support Systems, and Exploration Systems Architecture. Not only will our decision support system help to better link NASA's strategic goals to its operations, it will also help better focus its research an- d development, improve allocation of existing resources, and increase the probability of future space exploration successes.
Date of Conference: 27-27 April 2007