Mission Operational Autonomy: Crew and Mission Support Interaction in Autonomous Exploration of Distant Space and Planetary Surfaces.

Crew operational autonomy will increase necessarily as communication delay increases between Mission Support (MS) on Earth and the astronauts exploring deep space and planetary surfaces. Currently, NASA astronauts assigned to the International Space Station in Earth orbit work under low crew autonomy and real-time communication. In contrast, studies of crew composition and cohesion conducted at the HI-SEAS planetary surface analog are performed under near full crew operational autonomy and 20-minute communication latency. It is likely that crew autonomy during distant space exploration will vary between these extremes depending on the mission timeline and environment. The role of MS in supporting transitions in crew autonomy at relevant stages of distant and long duration space exploration will be a crucial factor in the mission success. This study evaluates the operational interactions between crew and MS transitioning from low and high crew autonomy that are relevant to distant space exploration and remote isolated environments over the duration of an 8-month HI-SEAS mission.

Contact: Bryan Caldwell, PhD, Exploration Class Management, Galveston, TX, and Sheryl Bishop, PhD, UTMB, Galveston, TX. bryan@xclassmanagment.com