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AFIT CSRA Students Apply Space Modeling and Simulation Technology to Real-World DoD Missions

Posted Tuesday, May 04, 2021

 

AFIT SENG 621 students were issued government laptops for coursework through social distancing measures (remainder of students not shown). SENG 621, or “Space Mission Modeling and Simulation” is a course in the space control specialty sequence that provides students with an understanding of emerging space control concepts, and the robust modeling and simulation techniques relevant to the space domain. (AFIT Contributed photo)

 

 

By Jaclyn Knapp, Air Force Institute of Technology

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Despite COVID-19 restrictions, students at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Center for Space Research and Assurance are learning how to solve real-world space problems through modeling and simulation technology.

Current AFIT Masters of Science students in astronautical engineering or space systems programs with a space control specialty sequence can enroll in the Center’s “Space Mission Modeling and Simulation” course, SENG 621. The space control specialty sequence provides students with an understanding of emerging space control concepts, and the robust modeling and simulation techniques relevant to the space domain.

“The SENG 621 course starts with space as a warfighting domain, and utilizes modeling and simulation to help demonstrate what warfighting in space really means,” said David Meyer, course instructor.

“Throughout the Department of Defense, there is a real shortage of people who understand how modeling and simulation works and one of the outcomes of this course is that it allows students to learn how to critically evaluate the results of models and simulations that are given to them. Upon completion, students will know how to apply this technology for solving real-world space problems,” said Meyer.

Applications used by the students include the computer language Python for scripting and writing code, systems tool kit, or STK, a multi-domain simulation platform and AFSIM, an Air Force owned multi-domain software simulation tool that is used to assess how military systems and platforms function throughout the course of a mission.

“SENG 621 brought all the pieces of the bigger picture together. The course enabled students to bring the tenets and best practices of model-based systems engineering into mission simulation. We were able to develop the skills to simulate a mission of a system that we designed to increase mission assurance using external simulation tools like STK,” said 1st Lt. Kyla Brown, AFIT Masters of Science student.

In-house application of MBSE is being used on AFIT’s most recent technology, Grissom, a space-qualified 6U CubeSat bus that supports hands-on student education and research. Students will use Grissom 6U busses in both classroom and thesis work to design, build and test CubeSat missions. This effort will leverage significant bus component and core flight software development performed at AFIT over the past few years and will include in-house hardware and software development, bus integration, and environmental testing.

“Applying MBSE to fictional systems in our classes was helpful to facilitate learning and applying the concepts, but nothing really compares to working on a real system such as the Grissom Project. MBSE dives deep into system design and resolution of conflicts in the design and mission. In addition, it’s really rewarding as a student to have the opportunity to contribute to a mission that benefits the DoD,” said Brown.

“Attending AFIT is an amazing route to receive an education that can be applied to an Air Force or Space Force career moving forward. Students have countless opportunities to contribute to real missions and research that are on the cutting-edge of defense technology, such as system/mission modeling and simulation. More and more organizations in the DoD are breaking into the world of modeling and simulation, and knowledgeable experts in these disciplines are essential for meaningful forward progress,” said Brown.

The Air Force Institute of Technology, or AFIT, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering and the student’s first choice for advanced academic education and career-long professional continuing education.

For additional information about graduate degrees in astronautical engineering or space systems, please visit the CSRA website at https://www.afit.edu/CSRA/, call 937-255-6565 extension 4753 or email Jaclyn.knapp.ctr@afit.edu.

 

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Air Force Institute of Technology
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