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ShuttleOps - A Space Shuttle Ground Operations Discrete Event Simulation

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The Shuttle operations simulation.


ShuttleOps is a discrete event simulation (DES) of the Space Shuttle ground processing operations, representing operations from the start of a launch flow through the return landing of the Shuttle orbiters. The DES was constructed using Arena Simulation, a software package from Rockwell Automation. A graphic user interface (GUI), pictured above, was also developed to provide an easier way of entering inputs into the underlying simulation. ShuttleOps was used to explore changes to the Shuttle ground operations processes, quickly providing insight into "what-if" scenarios such as changes in resources (such as the number of facilities or bays available, or vehicle fleet size), or off nominal probabilities, such as alternate launch site landings.


The Shuttle-Ops project:

  • Gathered and distilled Shuttle processing schedule data into an organized framework alongside associated factors, such as types of launch delays.

  • Analyzed the Shuttle processing data using advanced statistical techniques, tools and experts.

  • Constructed, matured, tested and verified a discrete event simulation of the Shuttle processing "baseline" using the historical data.

  • Developed a friendly user interface so an analyst / operations expert, could easily alter variables in the underlying baseline Shuttle processing simulation without having to be an expert in the underlying Arena simulation software.

The ShuttleOps simulation with numerous windows open.

Top right, an input screen. Top left, an output screen. Lower right background, the Arena simulation. Lower left background, the MS Excel sheet that sets the baseline Shuttle processing data, which in turn is read by the Arena simulation.


The Team:

  • NASA Kennedy Space Center

    • Martin Steele PhD, Discrete Event Simulation Lead

    • Grant Cates PhD, Shuttle Operations Lead

    • Edgar Zapata, Testing, Analysis and Contracting Officer Technical Representative (COTR)

  • Productivity Apex Inc.

    • Mansooreh Mollaghasemi PhD, Chairman and CEO

    • Dayana Cope, Discrete Event Simulation Lead

    • Ghaith Rabadi PhD, Discrete Event Simulation Team Member

    • Assem Kaylani, Graphic User Interface Lead


  • For further information on this project contact Martin Steele PhD of NASA KSC.


Website Contact: Edgar Zapata, NASA Kennedy Space Center