Aurora-KSC: NASA Kennedy Space Center Ground Operations Scheduling


Stottler Henke has worked with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to improve KSC’s Ground processing (GP) scheduling. The solution, Aurora-KSC, has been designed, developed and deployed at KSC to automate a large amount of Kennedy Space Center’s planning, scheduling, and execution decision-making. Aurora-KSC leverages Aurora, the world’s most intelligent scheduling framework; Aurora itself originated in part from many earlier NASA-funded efforts and has been utilized by NASA for some of its most complex scheduling challenges, including the scheduling of the maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO) of the Space Shuttle during its tenure. Aurora-KSC expands on this foundation, enhancing and extending Aurora for improved generalization and adaptability. This includes an interface with Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project so project information already available in these formats can benefit from Aurora-KSC. This allows KSC to realize significant efficiency improvements in several different areas. Aurora-KSC also includes adaptive execution, that is, executing the scheduled activities/procedures intelligently as actual execution actually deviates from the original schedule. Aurora-KSC is available to the wider NASA community to provide its many benefits to the rest of NASA.

Aurora-KSC has been applied to several problems at KSC relating to Ground Processing (GP). The delivered application improves the scheduling of the Processing and Verification & Validation (V&V) for the Space Launch System (SLS), including reduced turnaround time in response to changes and what-ifs, and more optimal schedules. Aurora has been used by NASA personnel directly and by JACOBS contractors.

Benefits to KSC ground operations provided by Aurora-KSC include:

  • Saving the manpower of highly trained and highly skilled planners and schedulers and greatly improving their turnaround time to changes and requests.
  • Automatically generating near-optimal SLS processing and assembly plans.
  • Automatically near-optimally rescheduling in real-time in response to changes and requests.
  • Supporting constraints unique to KSC, so models true to life can be built and scheduled.
  • Supporting import from and export to Primavera,
  • Allowing editing, display, and printing of PERT and Gantt charts with to-the-second accuracy (as needed for later tasks in the launch countdown).

NASA Commercial Crew Program


NASA Commercial Crew Program

Manpower Histogram, Showing Activities Constituting Manpower Need for One Time Instance

Gantt Chart Color-coded for Hazardous and Powering Requirements