Colorado Springs’ Braxton Scheduling turns gov’t satellite scheduling from hours to seconds
Since the launch of the first U.S. satellite in 1958, the U.S. Air Force has manually worked the scheduling of ground antennas to support orbiting satellites, with humans juggling the allocation of ground antennas required to control the satellites based on mission priorities, antenna capabilities and line-of-sight visibility. This is no easy task and requires visibility calculations from a ground-based antenna to a satellite traveling around the earth at speeds over 17,000 miles per hour and distances up to 22,000 miles. The scheduling process is now virtually impossible for humans to perform manually as the number of government satellites increase (now exceeding 150) and the available ground antennas are limited to the 15 spread across seven worldwide sites in what is known as the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN).
To help address this problem and provide the Air Force with a means to rapidly and efficiently adjust their ground antenna schedule, the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) executed multiple Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects in 2014. Braxton Technologies won one of the SBIR projects and, through this contract, delivered a new product that automatically optimizes the scheduling process, creating new schedules within seconds – currently this daily process takes three people eight hours each to execute.
The new product is called the ACE Intelligent Resource Optimizer (AceIRO). AceIRO incorporates a multi-objective genetic algorithm based on significant academic research, allowing multiple solutions to be created based on the selected objectives.
Braxton has successfully delivered a version of AceIRO to the U.S. Navy for use in their satellite ground control system deployed within dozens of Satellite Operations Centers. AceIRO also is the central scheduling component of a commercial satellite antenna network being set up to augment the AFSCN. AceIRO is under evaluation by multiple U.S. and International satellite antenna operators.
In addition to the satellite operations market, AceIRO can be tailored to address any resource scheduling need. For example, Braxton has presented applications of AceIRO for the Veterans Administration to help optimize patient scheduling, and for Air Mobility Command to optimize aircraft, air routes and airlift requirements.