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E2O Sim - An Earth-to-Orbit Supply Chain Simulation

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A Supply Chain Management Perspective Applied to NASA/Industry Space Transportation Systems.


It could be asked, since space transportation is a low volume market, measured by the product, the number of launches, and since the technology maturity of intermediate products is also low, and hence the variance is high, contributing to a lack of responsiveness and a poor support posture, meaning human space flight is not (yet) a "six sigma business", how could the commercial practice or perspective of supply chain management apply?


The Earth-to-Orbit (E2O) Supply Chain Simulation project begins by treating information flows (sustaining engineering, requirements management, configuration control, scheduling, planning, administrative, financial, etc.) as integral to material flows, such as flight and ground hardware processing, assembly, launch, return for refurbishment, reuse, disposition and servicing. This linkage is possible by taking advantage of existing, well established models in supply chain management (SCM). These descriptive models have organized the functional definitions for representing and analyzing the relationships between material and information flows. The model of choice here is the Supply Chain Council's Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model.


The "E2O Sim" project takes advantage of existing capabilities to create simulations automatically. The simulation is based on user inputs that require mostly operations subject matter expertise, not simulation programming/software skills. The analyst represents their specific supply chain using the relatively simple SCOR framework of plan, source, make, deliver and return functions (with a handful of others, such as inventory).


This project created an analytical capability for the supply chain for NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. This capability has been implemented in a team and a tool that can contribute to decision making and discovery for the NASA Constellation program and beyond.


Papers & Presentations:

The Project:


We define a Space Exploration Supply Chain as:


“The integration of NASA centers, facilities, third party enterprises, orbital entities, space locations, and space carriers that network/partner together to plan, execute, and enable an Exploration mission that will deliver an Exploration product (crew, supplies, data, information, knowledge, physical samples) and to provide the after delivery support, services, and returns that may be requested by the customer.”


As exploration operations expand further into space, NASA must enhance its understanding of the increasingly complex supply chain movement of materials, people, and information from sources somewhere on Earth to destinations somewhere in space - low Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, etc. The ability to understand, estimate, project, and affect decision making relevant to the NASA and industry supply chain makes for more effective and efficient work, with the customer as an informed collaborator with suppliers and contractors in the development of new systems. This improves the understanding of the cost of operating and sustaining the resulting systems, avoiding exceeding designated costs, assigned budgets and schedules. This consideration of the entire supply chain creates a path to optimizing operability and sustainability.


Historically, processes and systems focused on the direct operations portion of the activity, neglecting the less visible enabling and supporting processes across the supply chain and logistics networks.


Supply Chain modeling and analysis capability is required to understand and control the impacts of the end-to-end NASA/industry supply chain design on responsiveness, life cycle costs, flexibility, reliability, asset management efficiency and safety.


This project:

  • Developed a supply chain modeling, simulation, & analysis tool focused on the supply chain and operations for Earth-to-Orbit transportation systems.

  • Advanced the cutting edge in supply chain modeling and simulation methods, adapted them to NASA unique requirements, and created a capability to understand the entirety of system options that impact operability and sustainable life cycle costs.

  • Created a first ever prototype of a 21st century supply chain modeling, simulation, and analysis capability for future Earth-to-orbit systems development to grasp supply chain infrastructure issues early and credibly.

  • Supported the Constellation program challenge to grasp supply chain infrastructure issues relating to technology both credibly and early in the decision making process.


The relationship of LLEGO and the Interplanetary Supply Chain Management and Logistics Architecture project to the Earth-to-Orbit Supply Chain Simulation for human spaceflight.


The input screen of the E2O Supply Chain Simulation.

Organizational units (functions) such as reviews for flight hardware readiness, are to the right, connecting to material flows via red lines. Enabling organizational units are below, un-connected, sized to certain resource levels, and operating continuously to enable the more visible material flows. These enabling functions include engineering, sustaining, civil service, center management and operations, infrastructure, etc. The more visible material flows, be they parts or larger well recognized assemblies of flight hardware elements, flow through the numerous facilities, dominating the left, shown in black.


The GUI transfers all information about the system being represented to Arena Simulation software which automatically generates a Supply Chain Discrete Event Simulation Model based on pre-set understanding of the information set from the GUI. The Supply Chain Councils Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) Model is the standard being used to represent the NASA/industry system.


Outputs of interest being picked from all the discrete event simulation (DES) statistics, creating a more customized report.


The Team:

NASA Kennedy Space Center

  • Edgar Zapata, Project Lead and Contracting Officer Technical Representative (COTR)

  • Mike Galluzzi, Shuttle Program Office, Supply Chain Manager

Productivity Apex, Inc.

  • Mansooreh Mollaghasemi PhD, Chairman and CEO

  • Mike Calinan, Chief Logistician Expertise, President

  • Sam Fayez PhD, Project Lead

  • Dayana Cope, Discrete Event Simulation Lead

  • Assem Kaylani, Graphic User Interface Lead

  • Manuel Mora, Discrete Event Simulation Team Member


Website Contact: Edgar Zapata, NASA Kennedy Space Center