Education & Training Knowledge Mgmt & Discovery Planning & Scheduling Decision Support Autonomous Systems
AMP and Aurora/AMP Plan Space Shuttle Missions

Customer NASA

The Mission Planning Office at NASA plans space missions by allocating resources, assigning facility usage, and calculating launch dates five to ten years into the future.  Because the shuttle spacecraft and ground-based facilities are so expensive, increasing the number of shuttle launches by just one is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, so finding near-optimal schedules is critical.

In addition, NASA carries out “what-if” studies to determine how flight plans must change when ground rules are changed, new facilities are constructed, new vehicles are introduced, or when launches must be delayed. Rapid generation of near-optimal schedules enables NASA to perform what-if studies efficiently that analyze numerous alternate scenarios.

These complex planning tasks require significant manual effort from experts with many years of mission planning experience.  Because of the importance, diversity, and complexity of these scheduling studies, NASA needed a comprehensive and flexible tool to help plan space missions significantly more quickly and efficiently.

Solution Stottler Henke developed for NASA a full-scale Automated Manifest planner (AMP) that enables NASA staff to create optimized, multi-mission plans orders of magnitude faster than existing tools.  Stottler Henke’s knowledge engineers worked with expert planners at NASA to identify and acquire their planning expertise, and Stottler Henke’s artificial intelligence engineers represented this knowledge within software as rules and objects.  Stottler Henke designed the software to be extensible, so planners could enter expert domain knowledge without programming to add, delete, and modify planning heuristics.
Status AMP is used by NASA to schedule ground-based activities to prepare the space shuttle before each mission and refurbish the shuttle after each mission.  AMP sets launch dates automatically, maintain plans, performs advanced "what if" studies, and produces hard copies of plans that can be distributed to other NASA centers. AMP generates short-term and long-term (10 year) schedules of ground-based activities that prepare space shuttles before each mission and refurbish them after each mission. AMP is a NASA Succcess Story. and was featured in NASA Spinoff 2002.

A successor system to AMP, named Aurora/AMP, was later developed using Stottler Henke's Aurora™ scheduling system. "The precursor version of Aurora is used daily to support major processing and space shuttle launch decisions; to coordinate our launches with those of Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency; and to determine NASA's launch requirements and flight rates," says NASA Shuttle Processing Manager Tom Overton. "It enables us to generate complex schedules in a few hours, compared to days or weeks required by our previous scheduling systems."


Aurora product information

NASA Hallmarks of Success video story features Aurora.

3.23.06 - Stottler Henke to develop software for scheduling astronaut activities aboard next-generation spacecraft.

10.10.03 - Stottler Henke introduces first easy-to-configure intelligent planning and scheduling system.

Stottler Henke's artificial intelligence-based planning and scheduling technology can be applied to other complex planning and scheduling problems such as those encountered in manufacturing, facility utilization, construction scheduling, and complex project management.

Copyright © 2006 Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.