Mission Operations

John B. Can-away, Gael F. Squibb, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Wiley J. Larson, United States Air Force Academy

14.1 Developing a Mission Operations Plan

14.2 Overview of Space Mission Operations Functions

14.3 Estimating the Size and Cost of Mission Operations

14.4 Automating Spacecraft and Ground Operations Fnnctions

Mission operations is the collection of activities performed by operations teams during the flight phase of the mission, together with the operations design activities they perform pie-launch, including development of a mission operations concept, policies, data flows, training plans, staffing plans, and cost estimates. Hie mission operations system is the integrated system of people, procedures, hardware, and software that must cooperate to accomplish these tasks. NASA, the DoD, industry, and other organizations have different requirements for mission operations and each organization has developed it's own philosophy and style for carrying out the mission.

Mission operations focuses on the period after launch, but substantial work must be done during all phases of mission design and development to prepare for operations. Failing to take operations into account in preliminary mission design will significantly increase both the cost and risk of the mission.

We must distinguish between the mission concept—how we conduct the overall mission and how the elements of the mission fit together (Chap. 1)—and the mission operations concept—how we do operations to carry out the mission objectives. In this chapter we define 13 key functions performed by mission operations (see Fig. 14-1) and discuss how they combine to meet the mission operations concept Hardware, software, people and procedures operate together to complete these 13 functions. We must carefully trade automation against ground crew operations—on the ground and in space. Automating some of these functions can lead to lower operations costs and, in most cases, lower life-cycle costs. Organizations may group or name these functions differently, but we believe our list captures the tasks essential to mission operations.

The operations director must first define and negotiate the requirements on operations; then by to influence them to reduce cost and complexity. With requirements and constraints in place, the director must decide which functions to do, as well as their scope and how they can be done. Depending on the size and complexity of the mission, a director may even have to add functions to the list. In addition, the director must address organizational, hardware, and software interfaces between the functions.

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