A Simulated Annealing Approach to Schedule Optimization for the SES Facility

Mary Beth McMahon and Jack Dean

The SES is a facility which houses the software and hardware for a variety of simulation systems. The simulators include the Autonomous Remote Manipulator, the Manned Maneuvering Unit, Orbiter/Space Station docking, and shuttle entry and landing. The SES simulators are used by various groups throughout NASA. For example, astronauts use the SES to practice maneuvers with the shuttle equipment; programmers use the SES to test flight software; and engineers use the SES for design and analysis studies. Due to its high demand, the SES is busy twentyfour hours a day and seven days a week. Scheduling the facility is a problem that is constantly growing and changing with the addition of new equipment. Currently a number of small independent programs have been developed to help solve the problem, but the longterm answer lies in finding a flexible, integrated system that provides the user with the ability to create, optimize, and edit the schedule. COMPASS is an interactive and highly flexible scheduling system. However, until recently COMPASS did not provide any optimization features. This paper describes the simulated annealing extension to COMPASS. It now allows the user to interleave schedule creation, revision and optimization. This practical approach was necessary in order to satisfy the operational requirements of the SES.

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