Decision support system development for human extravehicular activity
Miller, Matthew James
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Human spaceflight is arguably one of mankind's most challenging engineering feats, requiring carefully crafted synergy between human and technological capabilities. One critical component of human spaceflight pertains to the activity conducted outside the safe confines of the spacecraft, known as Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Successful execution of EVAs requires significant effort and real-time communication between astronauts who perform the EVA and the ground personnel who provide real-time support. As NASA extends human presence into deep space, the time delay associated with communication between the flight crew and Earth-bound support crew will cause a shift from real-time to delayed communication. A decision support system (DSS) is one possible solution to enhance astronauts’ capability to identify, diagnose, and recover from time critical irregularities during EVAs without relying on real-time ground support. The contributions of this thesis are two fold. The first is domain specific and addresses the known deficiencies that will impact future human EVA operations. The second is methodological and generalizable across many domains. This thesis demonstrates that Cognitive Work Analysis (CWA) can be applied to yield design insight in the form of high level design requirements amenable to traditional systems engineering. Beginning with the first two phases of CWA, a broad work domain analysis of EVA is made to identify the system constraints on EVA operations. Subsequently, Control Task Analysis models were developed that yielded a set of DSS design requirements in the form of cognitive work and information relationship requirements which reflect the underlying states of knowledge associated with supporting EVA operations. Furthermore, this thesis demonstrates how a subset of those requirements, along side envisioning and testing within a future work context, can yield prototype DSS designs suitable for supporting future EVA operations. Finally, this thesis included a human-subject study to evaluate the resultant prototypes against the requirements to demonstrate both validity of the requirements and the verification of the design. As a result, this thesis contributes the underlying science needed to design a DSS within the EVA work domain for future mission operations.