Information Science

Software for Managing Inventory of Flight Hardware

The Flight Hardware Support Request System (FHSRS) is a computer program that relieves engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) of most of the non-engineering administrative burden of managing an inventory of flight hardware. The FHSRS can also be adapted to perform similar functions for other organizations. The FHSRS affords a combination of capabilities, including those formerly provided by three separate programs in purchasing, inventorying, and inspecting hardware. The FHSRS provides a Web-based interface with a server computer that supports a relational database of inventory; electronic routing of requests and approvals; and electronic documentation from initial request through implementation of quality criteria, acquisition, receipt, inspection, storage, and final issue of flight materials and components. The database lists both hardware acquired for current projects and residual hardware from previous projects. The increased visibility of residual flight components provided by the FHSRS has dramatically improved the re-utilization of materials in lieu of new procurements, resulting in a cost savings of over $1.7 million. The FHSRS includes subprograms for manipulating the data in the database, informing of the status of a request or an item of hardware, and searching the database on any physical or other technical characteristic of a component or material. The software structure forces normalization of the data to facilitate inquiries and searches for which users have entered mixed or inconsistent values.

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Adaptation of Mesoscale Weather Models to Local Forecasting

Both objective and subjective evaluation methodologies are needed. Methodologies have been developed for (1) configuring mesoscale numerical weather- prediction models for execution on high- performance computer workstations to make short-range weather forecasts for the vicinity of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and (2) evaluating the performances of the models as configured. These methodologies have been implemented as part of a continuing effort to improve weather forecasting in support of operations of the U.S. space program. The models, methodologies, and results of the evaluations also have potential value for commercial users who could benefit from tailoring their operations and/or marketing strategies based on accurate predictions of local weather.

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Aerodynamic Design Using Neural Networks

The amount of computation needed to optimize a design is reduced. The design of aerodynamic components of aircraft, such as wings or engines, involves a process of obtaining the most optimal component shape that can deliver the desired level of component performance, subject to various constraints, e.g., total weight or cost, that the component must satisfy. Aerodynamic design can thus be formulated as an optimization problem that involves the minimization of an objective function subject to constraints.

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Using Fractional Clock-Period Delays in Telemetry Arraying

Special digital FIR filters help to increase accuracy. A set of special digital all-pass finite- impulse- response (FIR) filters produces phase shifts equivalent to delays that equal fractions of the sampling or clock period of a telemetry- data- processing system. These filters have been used to enhance the arraying of telemetry signals that have been received at multiple ground stations from spacecraft (see figure). Somewhat more specifically, these filters have been used to align, in the time domain, the telemetry-data sequences received by the various antennas, in order to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio of the composite telemetric signal obtained by summing the signals received by the antennas.

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Developing Generic Software for Spacecraft Avionics

A standardized functional model would facilitate cost-effective reuse of common software modules. A proposed approach to the development of software for spacecraft avionics is based partly on a concept of generic software that could be tailored to satisfy requirements for specific missions. The proposed approach would stand in contrast to the conventional approach of first defining avionics requirements for a specific mission, then developing software specific to those requirements. The proposed approach might also be adaptable to programming computers that control and monitor other complex equipment systems that range in scale from automobiles to factories.

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Collaborative Software Development Approach Used To Deliver the New Shuttle Telemetry Ground Station

This software affords enhanced capabilities for utilizing telemetric data. United Space Alliance (USA) developed and used a new software development method to meet technical, schedule, and budget challenges faced during the development and delivery of the new Shuttle Telemetry Ground Station at Kennedy Space Center. This method, called Collaborative Software Development, enabled KSC to effectively leverage industrial software and build additional capabilities to meet shuttle system and operational requirements. Application of this method resulted in reduced time to market, reduced development cost, improved product quality, and improved programmer competence while developing technologies of benefit to a small company in California (AP Labs Inc.). Many modifications were made to the baseline software product (VMEwindow), which improved its quality and functionality. In addition, six new software capabilities were developed, which are the subject of this article and add useful functionality to the VMEwindow environment. These new software programs are written in C or VXWorks and are used in conjunction with other ground station software packages, such as VMEwindow, Matlab, Dataviews, and PVWave.

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Efficient Processing of Data for Locating Lightning Strikes

Time differences can be computed efficiently to subnanosecond resolution. Two algorithms have been devised to increase the efficiency of processing of data in lightning detection and ranging (LDAR) systems so as to enable the accurate location of lightning strikes in real time. In LDAR, the location of a lightning strike is calculated by solving equations for the differences among the times of arrival (DTOAs) of the lightning signals at multiple antennas as functions of the locations of the antennas and the speed of light. The most difficult part of the problem is computing the DTOAs from digitized versions of the signals received by the various antennas. One way (a time-domain approach) to determine the DTOAs is to compute cross-correlations among variously differentially delayed replicas of the digitized signals and to select, as the DTOAs, those differential delays that yield the maximum correlations. Another way (a frequency-domain approach) to determine the DTOAs involves the computation of cross-correlations among Fourier transforms of variously differentially phased replicas of the digitized signals, along with utilization of the relationship among phase difference, time delay, and frequency.

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