Currently, mission planning for the International Space Station (ISS) is primarily completed by ground operators in mission control. The task of creating a week-long mission plan for ISS crew requires ground personnel designing a baseline plan, re-planning, and adapting to real-time constraints and emerging issues. Future missions to other planets or areas with limited connectivity to Earth, will require more of these ground-based tasks to be handled autonomously by the crew onboard. Time delay due to the increased distances between spacecraft and Earth will require significant levels of autonomy. Communication windows may also be limited which will put even more pressure on the need for autonomous decision-making. In order to support these increasing needs it is necessary to develop systems that support crewmembers autonomous decision-making, while at the same time do not result in additional workload by the crew. The goal of this study on crew self-scheduling was to assess questions of plan and constraint complexity that can be handled on the crew-side, integration of collaborative and individual crew planning, and integration of crew generated plans with plans generated by ground controllers when there is time delay.
This study had the following specific aims:
- Evaluate crew self-scheduling and plan execution through Playbook for the ISS 1-year mission and provide a platform to allow for future research on crew autonomy for mission operations.
- Provide Playbook as an operations tool to increase the realism and efficiency of NASA's Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) and NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) analog.
- Determine the appropriate level of information (e.g., constraints, plan complexity) required for crewmembers to schedule their time autonomously with limited ground support by unobtrusively gathering and analyzing Playbook use data.
- Characterize task workload (e.g., time spent planning versus execution of plans, time on self-scheduled activities) of crewmembers completing an executing self-scheduling tasks by unobtrusively gathering and analyzing Playbook use data.
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Subjects ran through a set of crew self-scheduling exercises using the Playbook self-scheduling tool. Subjects self-scheduled some activities for their next mission day. Activities contained a mix of constraints such as temporal/order, communication, and equipment requirements. Self-scheduling is the task of rescheduling activities on the timeline as well as scheduling items from the Task List in Playbook. The activities self-scheduled were predetermined and did not apply to all activities in the schedule. The test session also included participants self-scheduling a fake day on the timeline (meaning a day that is not part of the actual mission schedule or timeline). A short survey was completed at the end of each session.
New organic use cases for crew autonomy mission planning were observed which gave additional insights into how the crew progressed in their plan and may indicate unmet needs back to mission control such as blocking off personal time, adding insights into how activity or plan execution could be improved. Additionally, the ability to add in intent information became an important concept to clarify why a mission plan was planned or executed in a certain way. Furthermore, investigators found that lightweight planning such as task list scheduling, small additions, and updates of activities on the same day of execution require relatively low effort and can be done in the margins such as in the time between activities. More complex planning such as EVA planning and re-planning and interior science planning is also successfully accomplished if the crew has been scheduled explicit time to do that planning.
This study was a feasibility assessment for Playbook. A final report exists in the archive but there isn't any data to request.
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: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
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for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.