CONTINUING KEPLER’S QUEST
Assessing Air Force Space Command’s
Committee for the Assessment of the U.S. Air Force’s Astrodynamic Standards
Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study is based on work supported by Grant FA9550-11-1-0007 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Air Force. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-26142-5
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-26142-2
Cover: Design by Tim Warchocki.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
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OTHER RECENT REPORTS OF THE AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD
NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA’s Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space (Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2012)
Recapturing NASA’s Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities (ASEB, 2012)
An Interim Report on NASA’s Draft Space Technology Roadmaps (ASEB, 2011)
Final Report of the Committee to Review Proposals to the 2011 Ohio Third Frontier Wright Projects Program (OTF WPP) (ASEB, 2011)
Limiting Future Collision Risk to Spacecraft: An Assessment of NASA’s Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Programs (ASEB, 2011)
Preparing for the High Frontier—the Role and Training of NASA Astronauts in the Post-Space Shuttle Era (ASEB, 2011)
Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era (Space Studies Board [SSB] with ASEB, 2011)
Summary of the Workshop to Identify Gaps and Possible Directions for NASA’s Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Programs (ASEB, 2011)
Advancing Aeronautical Safety: A Review of NASA’s Aviation Safety-Related Research Programs (ASEB, 2010)
Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research (Laboratory Assessments Board with ASEB, 2010)
Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth-Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report (SSB with ASEB, 2010)
Final Report of the Committee to Review Proposals to the 2010 Ohio Third Frontier (OTF) Wright Projects Program (WPP) (ASEB, 2010)
America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs (SSB with ASEB, 2009)
Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop (SSB with ASEB, 2009)
An Assessment of NASA’s National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (ASEB, 2009)
Final Report of the Committee for the Review of Proposals to the 2009 Engineering and Physical Science Research and Commercialization Program of the Ohio Third Frontier Program (ASEB, 2009)
Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (ASEB, 2009)
Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2009)
Radioisotope Power Systems: An Imperative for Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Space Exploration (SSB with ASEB, 2009)
Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop (ASEB, 2008)
A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program (ASEB, 2008)
Final Report of the Committee for the Review of Proposals to the 2008 Engineering Research and Commercialization Program of the Ohio Third Frontier Program (ASEB, 2008)
Final Report of the Committee to Review Proposals to the 2008 Ohio Research Scholars Program of the State of Ohio (ASEB, 2008)
Launching Science: Science Opportunities Provided by NASA’s Constellation System (SSB with ASEB, 2008)
Managing Space Radiation Risk in the New Era of Space Exploration (ASEB, 2008)
NASA Aeronautics Research: An Assessment (ASEB, 2008)
Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program: An Interim Report (ASEB, 2008)
Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System: Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2008)
United States Civil Space Policy: Summary of a Workshop (SSB with ASEB, 2008)
Wake Turbulence: An Obstacle to Increased Air Traffic Capacity (ASEB, 2008)
Limited copies of ASEB reports are available free of charge from:
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National Research Council
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COMMITTEE FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF THE U.S. AIR FORCE’S ASTRODYNAMIC STANDARDS
PAUL D. NIELSEN, Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, Chair
KYLE T. ALFRIEND, Texas A&M University, Vice Chair
MICHAEL J. BLOOMFIELD, Oceaneering International, Inc.
JOHN T. EMMERT, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
YANPING GUO, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
TIMOTHY D. MACLAY, Celestial Insight, Inc.
JAMES G. MILLER, Omitron Corporation1
ROBERT F. MORRIS, Aerospace Corporation
AUBREY B. POORE, Numerica Corporation
RYAN P. RUSSELL, University of Texas at Austin
DONALD G. SAARI, University of California, Irvine
DANIEL J. SCHEERES, University of Colorado, Boulder
WILLIAM P. SCHONBERG, Missouri University of Science and Technology
RAMASWAMY SRIDHARAN, MIT Lincoln Laboratory
DWAYNE A. DAY, Senior Program Officer, Study Director
CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Editor
AMANDA R. THIBAULT, Research Associate
ANDREA M. REBHOLZ, Program Associate
MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
1 Formerly with the MITRE Corporation until February 2012.
AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD
LESTER LYLES, The Lyles Group, Chair
AMY L. BUHRIG, Enerprise Technology Strategy, Boeing Company, Vice Chair
ELLA M. ATKINS, University of Michigan
INDERJIT CHOPRA, University of Maryland, College Park
JOHN-PAUL B. CLARKE, Georgia Institute of Technology
RAVI B. DEO, EMBR
VIJAY DHIR, University of California, Los Angeles
EARL H. DOWELL, Duke University
MICA R. ENDSLEY, SA Technologies
DAVID GOLDSTON, Harvard University
R. JOHN HANSMAN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
JOHN B. HAYHURST, Boeing Company (retired)
WILLIAM L. JOHNSON, California Institute of Technology
RICHARD KOHRS, Independent Consultant
IVETT LEYVA, Air Force Research Laboratory
ELAINE S. ORAN, Naval Research Laboratory
HELEN R. REED, Texas A&M University
ELI RESHOTKO, Case Western Reserve University
EDMOND SOLIDAY, United Airlines (retired)
MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director
CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator
TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations
CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate
CHRISTINA O. SHIPMAN, Financial Officer
SANDRA WILSON, Financial Assistant
In early 2011 the U.S. Air Force Space Command asked the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake a study of its astrodynamics standards—essentially the algorithms and associated computer systems used by the Air Force to keep track of thousands of orbiting objects. To conduct this study, the NRC established the Committee for the Assessment of the U.S. Air Force’s Astrodynamic Standards. The committee met four times: October 11-12, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colorado; December 12-14, 2011, in Irvine, California; February 7-9, 2012, in Washington, D.C.; and March 26-27, 2012, in Colorado Springs. It conducted data-gathering sessions at the first three meetings as a basis for preparing its report.
Chapter 1, “Meeting the Mission,” provides the background necessary for the remainder of the report. It describes the mission and future anticipated needs, summarizes the history of the development of the standardized astrodynamics algorithms and how we got to where we are today, and summarizes the needs of commercial users. Chapter 2, “Astrodynamics Algorithms,” provides a summary of the physical and mathematical aspects of astrodynamics algorithms, estimation algorithms, and the problems of and need for obtaining a realistic representation of orbit uncertainty and covariance realism, as well as the need for improving the characterization of sensor measurement errors. The broader aspects of the computational environment of the algorithms, the data products, and the need to ensure interoperability with all users are issues that are addressed in Chapter 3, “Systems Issues.” Chapter 4, “Broader Issues,” concludes with a discussion of issues such as the vision and the environment and culture for ensuring that future astrodynamics algorithms are quality products that meet the needs of the Joint Space Operations Center in a cost-effective manner.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
George H. Born, University of Colorado, Boulder,
L. Alberto Cangahuala, Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Chee-Yee Chong, BAE Systems,
Duane Deal, Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (SGT), Inc.,
Tim Fuller-Rowell, NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center,
Felix R. Hoots, Aerospace Corporation,
Robert H. Latiff, U.S. Air Force (retired), and
Alan M. Segerman, Naval Research Laboratory.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse any conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by William Ailor, the Aerospace Corporation. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.