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Crew Scheduling Tools (SPIFe_Scheduling)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Space Human Factors Engineering
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Future mission concepts will require a significantly more efficient planning process and tools. The Science Planning Interface (SPIFe) toolkit and underlying planning and scheduling technology has made significant advancements toward this goal. Given past successes in the Mars program, Space Human Factors Engineering has identified this as an ideal project to showcase the value of a data-driven user-centered design process that will yield tangible results in the near term and accomplish the needed capability of on-board re-planning in the future.

In recent years, Mars surface missions operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have made significant advancements in activity planning tools and processes. By many accounts, the efficiency with which plans are generated for these missions has improved by an order of magnitude over the previous baseline. The Science Planning Interface (SPIFe) toolkit developed at Ames Research Center and the human-centered design process employed by the Ames Human-Computer Interaction Group has been central to this improvement. Many of the efficiency gains discovered and implemented for the Mars program were the direct result of human factors analysis and tool design and not improvements to the underlying planning technology.

The activity planning process used today on Shuttle and ISS is similar to the process used by JPL for deep space robotic mission planning – there is limited automated planning support and constraint and resource checking capability. As execution time approaches, it is increasingly costly to make needed changes to schedules. There is little to no real-time re-planning capability either on the ground or on-board.

In 2007 and 2008 efforts were made to adapt several core SPIFe components for use in planning and scheduling operations for the Flight Analogs Project Bedrest study. The collaboration was successful on both sides: the Bedrest study provided a real context in which to test and deploy the SPIFe next-generation planning tools, and a partially automated planning systems was created for Flight Analogs scheduling personnel use that is measurably better than the baseline Excel-based approach in a number of ways. Bedrest study scheduling personnel have begun migrating to SPIFe as their primary tool for tactical scheduling.

In 2009, adaptation for a domain relevant to the Constellation Program was begun. Through extensive user research in this new domain, the intent was to further broaden an understanding of how users interact with planning systems in operational environments. Additionally, generalizable lessons learned were documented to date across the Mars, Bedrest, and NEEMO deployments of SPIFe.

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Activity cycles

Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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Off nominal
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

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Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
Directed Research