Media Contact:
Jim Ong



 Artificial intelligence technology will improve crew self-reliance in the maintenance
of advanced life support systems during long-term manned space missions

 SAN MATEO, CA, Mar. 4, 1998 — Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. today announced the award of a two year $580,000 Phase II contract with the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center to develop an intelligent fault diagnosis and recovery planning system designed to minimize the need for ground support during long-duration missions.  The new software will enable crew members to diagnosis problems and effect repairs in their advanced life support systems without assistance from engineers on the ground.

Future manned planetary exploration missions, such as missions to Mars, will require crews to spend two to five years at extreme distances from the earth.  To survive, the crew will have to be self-reliant, and their equipment will have to be highly reliable. Additionally, the need to recycle resources such as oxygen and water will require more complex life support systems. When problems occur in the equipment, crew members will have to diagnose the problems and effect the repairs themselves.  Although crew members will be intelligent, technically educated, and highly trained, their primary expertise will be in mission-related science, rather than in the diagnosis and repair of diverse equipment.

Stottler Henke will develop for NASA an On-Board Health Maintenance System (OBHMS), an intelligent fault diagnosis and recovery planning software system to help crew members maintain their advanced life support systems.  To diagnose a fault, the software will reason about causal relationships using computer models of the life support systems. The software will employ a knowledge base of known faults and their symptoms to accelerate its search for an explanation of the fault. Once the problem has been diagnosed, the system will construct detailed, step-by-step recovery procedures for the crew by combining appropriate recovery actions that it selects  from a knowledge base. The software will also guide the crew members through the execution of these procedures, and will present multimedia explanations when needed. Stottler Henke will also provide knowledge acquisition tools that enable NASA engineers to configure the models and knowledge bases for specific systems without programming. 

“The Stottler Henke OBHMS system will encode the knowledge of the best experts at maintaining the systems critical to the astronauts’ survival when they venture forth to explore the solar system,” says Dr. John L. Mohammed, the project’s principal investigator. “The OBHMS system will increase crew self-reliance and reduce mission support costs, and thus help make manned planetary exploration economically feasible.”

Founded in 1988, Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. applies artificial intelligence and other advanced software technologies to solve problems that defy solution using traditional approaches. The company delivers intelligent software solutions for education and training, planning and scheduling, knowledge management and discovery, decision support, and software development. Stottler Henke’s clients include manufacturers, retailers, educational media companies and government agencies.   Web: