Mixed Integer Programming and Heuristic Scheduling for Space Communication

Optimal planning and scheduling for a communication network was created where the nodes within the network are communicating at the highest possible rates while meeting the mission requirements and operational constraints. The planning and scheduling problem was formulated in the framework of Mixed Integer Programming (MIP) to introduce a special penalty function to convert the MIP problem into a continuous optimization problem, and to solve the constrained optimization problem using heuristic optimization.

The communication network consists of space and ground assets with the link dynamics between any two assets varying with respect to time, distance, and telecom configurations. One asset could be communicating with another at very high data rates at one time, and at other times, communication is impossible, as the asset could be inaccessible from the network due to planetary occultation. Based on the network’s geometric dynamics and link capabilities, the start time, end time, and link configuration of each view period are selected to maximize the communication efficiency within the network.

Mathematical formulations for the constrained mixed integer optimization problem were derived, and efficient analytical and numerical techniques were developed to find the optimal solution. By setting up the problem using MIP, the search space for the optimization problem is reduced significantly, thereby speeding up the solution process. The ratio of the dimension of the traditional method over the proposed formulation is approximately an order N (single) to 2*N (arraying), where N is the number of receiving antennas of a node. By introducing a special penalty function, the MIP problem with non-differentiable cost function and nonlinear constraints can be converted into a continuous variable problem, whose solution is possible.

This work was done by Charles H. Lee and Kar-Ming Cheung of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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