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Space Transportation Systems Operations Simulations - Processes

The goal of this work is to:

  • Understand the effort and processes for preparing, launching and returning space transportation systems.

  • Understand space transportation systems characteristics and processing in relation to the goal of significantly more routine and affordable access to space.

For costs - see NASA Space Systems Life Cycle Cost Models.


The system includes:

  • The flight vehicle design, technology and technical characteristics.

  • The ground infrastructure, facilities and equipment.

  • The organization of government and industry partners; processes, practices and business approaches.

The term "simulation" is used here in the sense of an abstraction, an "elaborate thought experiment", where mathematical formulas come together to create a predictive framework for the analysis and understanding of future, proposed systems. The term "simulation" is used here as distinct from model, as the work here focuses on processes, and these tools "run" or simulate time running. For example, a spaceship can be represented moving from process A in one facility to process B in another facility.


Operations simulations include:

Long term goals in this field of cost models and simulations include:

  • That models be fully integrated within frameworks and organizational processes for analysis and decision support.

    • Costs as an input; not an output or merely some unintended consequence to mitigate.

  • That ground operations cost models and processing simulations one day be fully integrated with other decision making tools, including:

    • Tools for defining research and technology portfolios

    • Tools used in the development stages of design and acquisition

    • Tools used in recurring production/manufacturing

    • Higher level strategic, economic, budgetary or policy models (the ez-NASA Model is an example of work in this direction)

Additionally, modeling can lead to exploring and understanding the behavior of complex systems, as in applying game theory, outlined in "NASA Equilibrium, Game Theory and National Policy". Lastly, since cost or other related data about current systems can be used for insight independent of any model or simulation, data analysis also represents a distinct area in this field of operations research.


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Website Contact: Edgar Zapata, NASA Kennedy Space Center