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United Space Alliance brings new innovations to space operations

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:41 pm
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Transitioning essential knowledge and experience from the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station to the Constellation Program will be one of the keys to the efficiency, reliability, safety and overall success of the new program. At last year’s National Space Symposium, United Space Alliance (USA) introduced its revolutionary Questus™ software suite as the first-ever set of integrated applications and tools specifically created to capture and transition that knowledge and experience in space operations.

This year, USA is pleased to announce the addition of three new applications and a cutting-edge partnership with NASA to establish a lunar surface science operations toolset based on the software suite developed by USA’s Independent Research and Development (IRAD) Program.

Drawing from a broad range of capabilities in all aspects of human space flight, USA has developed Questus™ as an integrated, streamlined technology solution to supporting all phases of space operations with fewer people, and less time and risk. From hardware development and manufacturing, through ground processing for flight, to mission planning/integration, training & certification, real-time flight execution and science data collection, Questus™ integrates the needs for end-to-end space operations. Its applications and tools uniquely interact across all phases.

“These products take what we’ve learned and create a better way to execute the next era of space exploration,” said Jerry Miller, Director, IRAD Program. “They bring together an immense collection of information and data to give those working in all phases of space operations the tools they need to perform tasks in ways that reduce life cycle costs of operations.”

Questus now consists of six separate, yet interacting products — Attentus™, Ascensio™, Temporis™ and the newly added Acquiro™, Instru™, and ILIADS™. The Latin names are descriptive of the function of each of the products.

Attentus™ (Latin: to be particular about one’s property), is a visual search and retrieval tool for spacecraft design, development and processing, plus operational data and archival content. It streamlines the search and retrieval of information necessary for effective project integration by allowing users to visually drill down to a physical or topical locale for specific content.

Its potential use extends beyond flight hardware systems and encompasses the breadth of data covering the vehicle, its subsystems, software, procedures, facilities, ground support equipment, discrepancy reports, schedules, repair/maintenance operations or even real-time flight information such as field samples or experiment results. Attentus™ also includes powerful tools for capturing and classifying digital content, as it is created/authored by design or processing activities, and integrating content into an overall taxonomy.

Ascensio™ (Latin: to place into high or lofty flight) is an advanced system for the design and analysis of exploration (for example, Earth-Moon) trajectories. It designs a spacecraft mission trajectory that includes Earth orbit, lunar/planetary translation, descent and landing, ascent and rendezvous with an orbiting module, a return trajectory to Earth and Earth entry. Ascensio’s™ modular design can be adapted to a variety of spacecraft configurations and is ideal for mission and vehicle design trade studies, with flexibility for analyzing various guidance schemes, navigation systems and mission timelines.

Temporis™ (Latin: the discrete interval between two or more events) is USA’s intelligent spaceflight mission management and planning tool designed to enable Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and Exploration astronauts to take control of their own missions.

A crew-centric application, Temporis™ is designed for on-board astronaut planning specialists to assign daily objectives to their crewmates according their unique situation. The volumes of spaceflight constraints, flight rules, dependencies, sequences, medical guidelines and safety requirements once in hardcopy books and flight controller training lessons are all now efficiently embedded into Temporis’™ intelligence.

The product has been crafted to tap into telemetry for the CEV, lunar habitation, L1 base or any vehicle’s power, communication and other consumable or limited resources. Whether in low Earth orbit, lunar translation, lunar orbit or in transit to Mars, as crew members schedule their own activities, Temporis™ ensures their individual plans utilize all resources efficiently, feasibly and safely.

Instru™ (Latin: to instruct, teach, bring along, guide) is an immersive, multi-dimensional training and procedures tool designed so that operations, training and documentation are owned by the individuals executing the mission (including the crew).

Based on an interactive “living format,” Instru™ is designed to be in a constant state of accuracy ensuring the latest procedures and training material are always available to all stakeholders of the data. Three-dimensional immersive procedures as well as traditional documents are utilized, along with video, audio, schemata, drawings, manufacturer’s notes and relevant data via Attentus™.

Acquiro™ (Latin: to obtain, acquire) provides continuous, full insight of on-board inventory and locations as well as instant and accurate center of gravity (CG) determination.

Designed to facilitate inventory control (amounts, locations and types), Acquiro™ can track and display any item in an immersive computer environment. The method of inventory tracking can be Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), barcode or any other tracking system. Any tabular or spreadsheet results are placed in an orientation that is practical, easily accessible and intuitive to astronaut crews existing in a 6-degree of freedom environment – a capability that is unique to Acquiro™.

Where items are stored and how much fuel is in each tank are key factors in determining CG. Acquiro™ is designed so that the inventory information plus the telemetry from the vehicle are taken into account at regular intervals so that instantaneous, automated, CG is always available, without required interaction from the ground. Ascensio™ can then ingest the CG data from Acquiro™ for flight design and trajectory planning.

ILIADS™ (Integrated Lunar Information Architecture for Decision Support) is the product of an Innovative Partnership Program between United Space Alliance and Goddard Space Flight Center to develop a science design for operability. ILIADS™ combines lunar data from unmanned precursors with experience of human spaceflight operations for a new approach to science data access.

Data from the forthcoming Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will be received and compiled by ILIADS and immediately accessible in a visual, three-dimensional tool that can be accessed by scientist on the ground, and in the future by lunar-based crews.

Questions that ILIADS™ will immediately be able to answer not only for the science community but for the crews on the lunar surface include oxygen and helium concentrations, optimum landing sites, real-time chemical composition of surface rocks, projected light and shadows for launch and landing and overall lunar topography.

For more information on Questus™, visit: http://questus.unitedspacealliance.com/

United Space Alliance is a world leader in space operations with extensive experience in all aspects of the field. Headquartered in Houston and employing 10,000 people in Texas, Florida and Alabama, USA is applying its broad range of capabilities to NASA’s Space Shuttle, International Space Station and Constellation programs as well as to space operations customers in the commercial and international space industry sectors.

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