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NASA has embarked on an ambitious new program to develop the next generation of spacecraft. The vision is to have a "virtual presence" in space through a multitude of small "sciencecraft". The New Millennium program, the first step in that vision, consists of a number of demonstration missions to prove innovative technologies, such as new means of propulsion, communication, and sensing. Of particular interest is that the spacecraft will be largely autonomous -- doing its own planning, scheduling, monitoring and error recovery. This capability, termed the New Millennium Remote Agent (NMRA) will be demonstrated on the first New Millennium mission (a comet and asteroid fly-by), scheduled to launch in July 1998.
CMU has been part of the program from its inception. We are providing ideas, flight software, and analysis and testing tools to aid in the effort. This talk will describe the overall New Millennium Program vision, the specifics of the first mission, and CMU's role in all this. In particular, I will discuss how the program differs from traditional spacecraft design and operations, how autonomy and AI technologies are crucial to the success of the program, and how all this is allowing NASA to create a revolutionary new spacecraft in two years, as opposed to the traditional 5-10 year development cycle.
This appears on the World Wide Web at http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~mcm/seminar.html