2007 Lunar telescope facility The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has outlined plans to return humans to the Moon by the year 2020. Because of the inherent advantages in performing astronomy from the lunar surface, the Moon has long been envisioned as a possible site for a space telescope. With the most recent lunar plans serving as a motivation and basis for reconsideration of the Moon as the location of an astronomical observatory, this report provides a thorough investigation into the design of a lunar telescope facility.

Presentation (PDF - 1.7 MB)

Report (PDF - 4.5 MB)

2006 Extensible planetary surface transportation system

This year's design effort focused on crewed surface mobility systems for the Moon, Mars, and analog sites on Earth, supporting the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE).

The VSE calls for human exploration of the Moon, preparing the way for human Mars missions. In this plan, lunar exploration begins with robotic orbital and surface missions while crewed vehicles are developed. Crewed missions to the Moon would begin with so-called sortie missions operationally similar to the Apollo J-type missions, with multiple EVAs and geologic excursions from the lander. Subsequent missions would build up a permanently occupied outpost similar to Antarctic research stations. Later missions would begin Mars development, beginning around 2030, using conjunction-class trajectories to provide surface stays of 500-600 days.

Presentation (PDF - 2.0 MB)

Report (PDF - 6.5 MB)

2004 Design for NASA's new exploration initiative On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush presented the nation with a bold new initiative to "explore space and extend a human presence across our solar system…using existing programs and personnel…one mission, one voyage, one landing at a time." (Bush, 2004) NASA was charged with the task of developing a sustainable and affordable human space exploration program with the initial objective of returning a human presence to the Moon by the year 2020. The directive thus raises two broad engineering questions: First, what is the purpose of an exploration system, and how one evaluates its performance. Second, how does one architect a sustainable space exploration system? The following report makes the case that the primary purpose of an exploration system is the delivery of knowledge to the stakeholders, and that the design should be evaluated with respect to knowledge.

Presentation (PDF - 1.0 MB)

Report (PDF - 7.8 MB)

2003 Rapid modeling of Mars robotic explorers The Rapid Modeling of Mars Robotic Explorers project is motivated by the need to evaluate and compare rover architectures and designs for future unmanned Mars missions. The software tool developed by this project can compare costs and benefits over a large space of rover architectures by varying mission science and design parameters. Future missions, including the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), can benefit from the trade space analysis provided by this tool.

Presentation (PDF - 1.6 MB)

Report (PDF - 3.6 MB)

2002 Conceptual space-based space system to characterize the upper atmosphere with specific emphasis on the thermosphere and ionosphere Design a conceptual space-based space system to characterize the upper atmosphere, with specific emphasis on the thermosphere and ionosphere. Building upon lessons learned from A-TOS and B-TOS, develop an architecture for the space system by March 22, 2002; building upon lessons learned from C-TOS, complete a preliminary design of this architecture by May 15th, and link this preliminary design back to the process used for the architectural study. Learn about engineering design process and space systems.

Presentation (PDF - 4.1 MB)

Report (PDF - 1.8 MB)

2001 Swarm-based space system The purpose of this document is to describe and summarize the process completed and results obtained by the 16.89 class during the spring semester of 2001. The class addressed the design of a swarm-based space system, B-TOS, to provide data for evaluation and short-term forecasting of space weather. The primary stakeholders and participants of the project are: 16.89 students, faculty and staff, and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Furthermore, the Space Policy and Architecture Research Center (SSPARC) is also interested in seeing the implementation of the Multi-Attribute Utility Analysis (MAUA) for a real space system.

Presentation (PDF)

Report (PDF - 2.0 MB)

2000 An enabling space infrastructure that will support the exploration of Mars The Mars infrastructure will enhance the capabilities of future robotic missions while significantly reducing their cost. This magnification of capability will provide improved opportunities for international cooperation as well as increasing public awareness and involvement in Mars exploration. Ultimately, the Mars infrastructure will be a key enabler for establishing a human presence on Mars.

Presentation (PDF - 3.4 MB)

Report (PDF - 2.2 MB)

1999 Terrestrial planet finder mission A fundamental activity during the conceptual design phase for a large project is the comparison of competing system architectures. The ASTRO team has developed a process and a software tool, based on a quantitative systems engineering methodology, to conduct trade studies during the conceptual design phase of the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2010. The TPF Mission Analysis Software (TMAS) package consists of 6 macro-modules that model the physics and processes that distinguish between competing system architectures, including structurally connected (truss) and separated spacecraft (formation flying) concepts. Ultimately, each design is evaluated by a performance assessment module (GINA), which computes the capability, performance, and cost of each architecture. The cost per image metric is the primary metric used to trade architectures against each other. This metric represents the ratio of the total lifecycle cost of the mission divided by the number of useful "images" returned, where "images" represent the total number of surveys and spectroscopic observations accomplished during the mission lifetime. Limited resources, in the form of personnel and time, determined the level of fidelity incorporated into the model. The team focused on developing models for the processes with the greatest likelihood to contribute to the differentiation between architectures. After using benchmark spacecraft configurations, previously developed by industry teams, to validate the TMAS package, the team conducted one dimensional trade studies from a baseline spacecraft configuration to evaluate general trends.

Presentation (PDF - 1.0 MB)

Report (PDF - 2.9 MB)