Non-NASA technology development efforts for procedure automation, software validation, and verification (V&V) currently exist. A4O technology has primarily focused on ISS-based applications, in which the state of the practice is primarily manual (for the construction of command sequences). The current team is composed of ARC, JSC, Langley Research Center (LaRC), and JPL personnel. There are some university and industry partnerships. Deliverables include (1) procedure development environment and procedure automation, with success criteria equating to reduction by a factor of 2 to 10 in the time to create procedures, time to validate procedures, and number of errors; and (2) mission control center, training management, and flight product production automation, with success criteria equating to reduction by a factor of 2 in the time to validate the plan. Software validation is primarily through customer feedback, testing on relevant examples, and shadow-operations—that is, running the software in the background and testing to determine if the outputs match with what the humans did.
The A4O technology development is focused on specific NASA objectives (in particular, ISS), yet the project does not provide a coherent picture of how individual software technologies under the A4O project address Constellation Program needs. Although advanced technologies in automation and software V&V currently exist, the project does not seem to build on a requirements or human factors perspective, which has been shown to be a standard practice in this area. It was also not fully shown how key performance metrics used to assess quality of effort will be analytically evaluated or compared to the state of the art in industry.
The Constellation Program requirements that A4O technology seeks to address include five elements that focus on (1) control of automated functions, (2) fault detection and recovery, (3) integrated mission planning and analysis, (4) concurrent monitoring and control of three active space vehicles, and (5) the capability to return crew to Earth without ground communication. Although the goals of the project are properly outlined, a roadmap to project success is not obvious. In particular, it is unclear how these requirements directly map to the technology products (or stated achievements) that are being developed in the A4O project, or in deriving the key performance metrics for this project.
Infusion points into Orion and Lunar Lander operations are highlighted as milestones, but there is not a clear roadmap for transitioning development from ISS-specific examples to Constellation-specific examples. There seems to be a strong disconnect, or at least a lack of good communications, between the ETDP team and the customer, Constellation.
The primary objective of providing software tools to maximize productivity and minimize the workload for mission operations, if achieved, could provide significant benefit toward achieving the VSE. The technology concepts would extend to other exploration missions as well as providing significant performance benefits. To achieve these benefits though, the A4O project needs to focus on getting direct buy-in from the mission operators/astronauts/technology user base.