Evolution and Reengineering of NASA's Flight Dynamics Facility (FDF)
SpaceOps 2008 Conference
The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Flight Dynamics Facility (FDF) is a multimission support facility that performs ground navigation and spacecraft trajectory design services for a wide range of scientific satellites. The FDF also supports the NASA Space Network by providing orbit determination and tracking data evaluation services for the Tracking Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). The FDF traces its history to early NASA missions in the 1960's, including navigation support to the Apollo
... pport to the Apollo lunar missions. Over its 40 year history, the FDF has undergone many changes in its architecture, services offered, missions supported, management approach, and business operation. As a fully reimbursable facility (users now pay 100% of all costs for FDF operations and sustaining engineering activities), the FDF has faced significant challenges in recent years in providing mission critical products and services at minimal cost while defining and implementing upgrades necessary to meet future mission demands. This paper traces the history of the FDF and discusses significant events in the past that impacted the FDF infrastructure and/or business model, and the events today that are shaping the plans for the FDF in the next decade. Today's drivers for change include new mission requirements, the availability of new technology for spacecraft navigation, and continued pressures for cost reduction from FDF users. Recently, the FDF completed an architecture study based on these drivers that defines significant changes planned for the facility. This paper discusses the results of this study and a proposed implementation plan. As a case study in how flight dynamics operations have evolved and will continue to evolve, this paper focuses on two periods of time (1992 and the present) in order to contrast the dramatic changes that have taken place in the FDF. This paper offers observations and plans for the evolution of the FDF over the next ten years. Finally, this paper defines the mission model of the future for the FDF based on NASA's current mission list and planning for the Constellation Program. As part of this discussion the following are addressed: the relevance and benefits of a multi-mission facility for NASA's navigation operations in the future; anticipated technologies affecting ground orbit determination; continued incorporation of Commercial Off-the-shelf (COTS) software into the FDF; challenges of a business model that relies entirely on user fees to fund facility upgrades; anticipated changes in flight dynamics services required; and considerations for defining architecture upgrades given a set of cost drivers.