AbstractTo explore new worlds, undertake science, and observe new phenomena, NASA must endeavor to develop increasingly sophisticated missions. Sensitive new instruments are constantly being developed, with ever increasing capability of collecting large quantities of data. The new science performed often requires multiple coordinating spacecraft to make simultaneous observations of phenomena. The new missions often require ground systems that are correspondingly more sophisticated. Nevertheless, the pressures to keep mission costs and logistics manageable increase as well.The new paradigms in spacecraft design that support the new science bring new kinds of mission operations concepts [165]. The ever-present competition for national resources and the consequent greater focus on the cost of operations have led NASA to utilize adaptive operations and move toward almost total onboard autonomy in certain mission classes [176, 195]. In NASA’s new space exploration initiative, there is emphasis on both human and robotic exploration. Even when humans are involved in the exploration, human tending of space assets must be evaluated carefully during mission definition and design in terms of benefit, cost, risk, and feasibility.Risk is a major factor supporting the use of unmanned craft: the loss of human life in two notable Shuttle disasters has delayed human exploration [160], and has led to a greater focus on the use of automation and robotic technologies where possible. For the foreseeable future, it is infeasible to use humans for certain kinds of exploration, e.g., exploring the asteroid belt, for which the concept autonomous nano technology swarm (ANTS) mission was posed – discussed in Chap. 10 – where uncrewed miniature spacecraft explore the asteroid belt. A manned mission for this kind of exploration would be prohibitively expensive and would pose unacceptable risks to human explorers due to the dangers of radiation among numerous other factors.KeywordsSoftware AgentWilkinson Microwave Anisotropy ProbeAsteroid BeltStar TrackerDefense Advance Research Project AgencyThese keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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