Using Monte Carlo Simulation To Improve Cargo Mass Estimates For International Space Station Commercial Resupply Flights
Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States
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To resupply the International Space Station ISS with the items to support continuous human occupation and hardware to maintain system functionality, scientific experiments are necessary to maximize its potential as a world-class research laboratory. The transition of this function to the commercial sector under Firm Fixed-Price contracting has forced both NASA and commercial providers to adjust to make this effort successful. Improving bag-level cargo launch manifests delivered from NASA to the provider more than a year in advance is an area where significant gains can be realized by reducing, if not eliminating, costly and time-consuming analysis andor physical rework during the launch campaign. The current process for developing these early manifests relies heavily on the experience and judgment of subject-matter experts to hand-build them for every flight. This research investigates the application of Monte Carlo simulation based on historical launch cargo data as a proof-of-concept demonstration for improving these manifest deliverables. The Monte Carlo simulationderived manifests were checked against two dedicated ISS resupply missions, yielding promising results proving the concept. With further development, this methodology will be particularly useful in designing and implementing new cargo spacecraft.