International Space Station Operational Experience and its Impacts on Future Mission Supportability



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48th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Operational experience gained on the International Space Station (ISS) has enabled significant improvements in failure rate estimates for various Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs). These improved estimates, in turn, allow more efficient and accurate spare parts allocations for future missions, enabling significant reductions in both logistics mass and risk. This paper examines the value of ISS experience to date in terms of its impact on supportability for future missions. A supportability model is presented that assesses the spares required as a function of mission endurance and risk, taking into account uncertainty in failure rate estimates. Changes in ISS Environmental Control and Life Support (ECLSS) ORU failure rate estimates are described and discussed, both in terms of the overall population of ORUs and the evolution of failure rate estimates over time for a particular item. The value of those updated failure rate estimates is assessed by calculating the estimated spares mass requirements for two cases, using the initial, pre-ISS estimates and using the estimates informed by on-orbit experience. Hidden risk resulting from underestimated failure rates is also assessed. These results indicate that, for a 1,200-day Mars mission, ISS experience has enabled a 3.9 t to 6.0 t reduction in ECLSS spares mass required and uncovered failure rate underestimates that would have resulted in an order of magnitude increase in risk had they not been discovered and corrected. The implications of these results for system development and mission planning are discussed, including approaches to accelerate the rate of failure rate refinement and the risks associated with making changes or introducing new systems. Overall, test time is a critical factor that must be carefully considered in system development, and new systems must budget appropriate time for testing in a relevant environment or accept higher risk and logistics requirements on future missions.


Andrew Owens, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Olivier de Weck, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
ICES511: Reliability for Space Based Systems
The 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA on 08 July 2018 through 12 July 2018.


Supportability, Logistics, Bayesian, Testing, Risk, Uncertainty, International Space Station