The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded a Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) contract extension to Orbit Logic to continue development of flexible and scalable autonomous planning system (APS) architecture.

The APS architecture is anticipated to enable enhanced asset-level and system-level mission planning for satellites and ground-based assets, and would be flexible to support limited or extensive onboard automation of satellite operational decisions.

Orbit and its partners, Emergent Space Technologies and PnP Innovations, were awarded the contract in March 2013. The initial Phase II contract saw the firms develop a fully functional flight software prototype of the system that demonstrated onboard autonomous planning for multiple use cases.

The modular design developed by the company during the Phase I contract was flexible to support limited or extensive onboard automation for planning decisions.

"The APS architecture is anticipated to enable enhanced asset-level and system-level mission planning for satellites and ground-based assets."

Under the contract modification, the company will develop software modules enabling cross-cueing between federated space assets in low earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO), while extending onboard sensor planning capabilities to include support for gimbaled sensor systems.

In addition, Orbit will incorporate its ground based planning software to optimally schedule sensors for nominal and cross-cued space target observations.

Orbit Logic COO Ella Herz said: "We are not just creating a mission-specific flight software planner. We are developing a scalable and flexible software architecture that will make autonomous planning accessible for any mission.

"Adding cross-cueing allows onboard planning to interface with information sources and services in the wider space system to raise the overall mission utility."

According to the company, the addition of new modules supporting gimballed sensors and cross-queuing demonstrate the flexibility and extensibility of the APS architecture.