Design Engineering Assistant for the Early Design of Space Missions

Summary: Space missions development takes years and traditionally starts with a feasibility study phase where experts consider several design options, trade-offs and eventually take decisions that will impact the rest of the mission life cycle. To make these first design decisions, experts rely both on their implicit knowledge (i.e. past experiences, network) and on the available explicit knowledge (i.e. past reports, publications, datasheets, books, etc.). The former type of knowledge represents a substantial amount of unstructured data, which is today underutilised and too time-consuming to explore during the limited time frame of a  feasibility study.

A solution is to design an Expert System (ES) centralising knowledge on space mission design from different sources, able to support the initial study input estimation and answer experts’ queries in natural language. Such an effort is led since January 2018 by a PhD student, Audrey Berquand, at the University of Strathclyde within the Intelligent Computational Engineering (ICE) lab, under the supervision of Dr. Annalisa Riccardi. The project is done in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and industrial partners: Airbus, RHEA and satsearch in the frame of a Networking Partnering Initiative.

The Design Engineering Assistant (DEA) project aims to enhance the productivity of Human experts by providing them with new insights on large amount of data accumulated in the field of space mission design. The project team is currently focusing on the semi-automatic generation of an ontology for the DEA Knowledge Graph and on the merging of information from semi-structured and unstructured sources.

Timeframe: January 2018 – December 2020

People: Audrey Berquand, Annalisa Riccardi

Publications: Strathclyde Knowledge Portal, Research Gate Project Profile

Partners: ESA, Airbus, RHEA, Satsearch