Evolutionary Spacecraft Design Using a Generalized Component-Resource Model

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A new framework is proposed for modeling complex multidisciplinary systems as a collection of components and resource flows between them. The framework is developed for modeling and optimizing conceptual spacecraft designs. Its goal is to remain sufficiently general to address any space mission without modification of the developed model or code. Spacecraft are modeled as a collection of components and the resources that flow between them. New missions can be considered and capabilities added by simply adding components and resources. Constraints can be imposed on a component basis or system-wide, and are based on the flow of the resources within the system. Additionally, the proposed component-resource model and framework can address many complex systems engineering problems beyond spacecraft design by a similar implementation.

Design optimization is performed by a genetic algorithm utilizing a variable length genome. This allows the algorithm to represent the variable number of components that could be present in a system design, enabling a more open-ended design capability than previous frameworks of this nature. Systems are evaluated through a user-defined simulation, and results can be presented in any trade space of interest based on the designs' performance in the simulation. We apply the framework to the design of a simple Earth orbiting, data gathering mission, as well as to the design of low Earth orbit active debris removal spacecraft constellations.