Johnson Space Center’s (JSC's) indentured parts list (IPL) maintenance and parts assembly capture tool (IMPACT) is an easy-to-use graphical interface for viewing and maintaining the complex assembly hierarchies of large databases. IMPACT, already in use at JSC to support the International Space Station (ISS), queries, updates, modifies, and views data in IPL and associated resource data, functions that it can also perform, with modification, for any large commercial database. By enabling its users to efficiently view and manipulate IPL hierarchical data, IMPACT performs a function unlike that of any other tool. Through IMPACT, users will achieve results quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively.

Speed, efficiency, and cost are critical issues in maintaining complex assembly hierarchies of large databases. IPLs consist of parts organized into such complex assembly hierarchies. The more complex the hierarchy, the more the associated list grows and the more difficult it becomes to locate a part to modify it. At JSC it was found that existing IPL manipulation methods were too complex, hard to use, and error-prone for time and cost-sensitive ISS operations. IMPACT was therefore developed to address these drawbacks and to help users achieve results.

IMPACT uses a C++, X-Windows, and Motif application framework. At JSC, it operates with a PRO*C++ interface to an Oracle database. In this way, IMPACT can manipulate the vehicle master database IPL with PL/SQL packages. Since it was developed using object-oriented programming in a modular fashion, it has proved easy to maintain and its capabilities are as easily extended. IMPACT has shown a very high reliability factor as well.

IMPACT manages a rapidly changing flight sequence, manifests, and detailed parts list for ISS by featuring views of an ISS IPL based on flight phases (i.e., launch, on-orbit, and return) and flights. It also features resource data viewing for each part in the IPL and a hypertext-based help system. IMPACT can be started in “view only” as well as in “update modes.” When in update mode, IMPACT supports the creation of database entries for new flights, elements, subelements, and parts as well as parts movement around assembly hierarchies, using menu-driven commands and buttons, and drag-and-drop technology. More than one IMPACT session can be brought up independent of another, and different views can be placed side-by-side on the same screen during the same session.

IMPACT is therefore a unique, flexible tool with an easy-to-use, highly intuitive graphical user interface. Its novelty lies in the fact that it allows users to view and manipulate IPL hierarchical data efficiently, something no other tool has allowed during the time of this reporting. Already in use on the ISS, IMPACT has proven to be flexible and can mature and grow with a system. As such, it is a valuable adjunct not only to the space industry for which it was developed but, with suitable modifications, to large commercial databases.

This work was done by Bobby Jain, Bill Morris, and Kelly Sharpe of Barrios Technology for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact:

Barrios Technology, Inc.
2525 Bay Area Blvd., Suite 300
Houston, TX 77058-1556
Phone: (281) 280-1900
Fax: (281) 280-1901

Refer to MSC 22915, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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