Supporting Astronaut Autonomous Operations in Future Deep Space Missions
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Future deep space missions will present new physical and cognitive challenges that could increase risks to astronaut performance. In addition, crews may no longer be able to depend on timely support from NASA Mission Control Center (MCC) due to distance from the Earth. Astronauts will have to work autonomously using onboard resources, while still maintaining high performance. It is critical to understand the type of support MCC currently provides in order to replicate that type of support onboard. A Contextual Inquiry was performed to characterize the support that MCC currently offers to space crews. An expert Focus Group was convened to understand the types of tasks astronauts will do on a future Mars mission, as well as the challenges associated with those tasks. Results from these activities elucidate the types of intelligent tools and capabilities that will be needed for autonomous crews on future deep space missions.
KeywordsHuman Factors Human-Systems Integration Contextual Inquiry Space Exploration Autonomous Missions
This work was funded by the NASA Human Research Program (contract number NNJ15HK11B), and the study was performed at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The authors would like to thank E. Vincent Cross II and Brent Beutter for their technical contributions. The authors would also like to thank the NASA Flight Operations Directorate (FOD) for their assistance in conducting the Contextual Inquiry, and all of the participants of the Contextual Inquiry and Expert Focus Group.
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