Simplifying Complex Problems with Systems Engineering Tools: a Lunar Architecture Analysis Case Study
Percy, Thomas K.
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The analysis of lunar mission architectures is a complex problem dealing with many different propulsive elements and payloads moving through a series of locations to deliver humans and cargo to the moon. While the general systems engineering process is largely tied to the development of an end product, many of the tools commonly employed by systems engineers can be used to simplify these complex and abstract mission analyses. These tools can help the analyst gain a better overall understanding of the problem, its trends and possible solutions by better defining element interactions and functions. Sensitivity studies that employ trade tree analysis can give the engineer insight into performance trends and the benefits and penalties associated with certain design decisions. Finally, these tools can be implemented to help define the structure of simple, zero-level, Excel-based analysis tools that can assess broad, expansive trade spaces allowing mission planners to begin to formulate informed perceptions of mission performance trends. In this paper, the application of these system engineering tools and methodologies to the analysis of lunar mission architectures is discussed as well as some of the results of those analyses.