Shuttle Flight Design System (FDS)

The Space Shuttle Flight Design System was a precursor to a new class of engineering design systems that will flourish with MetaScience. Like MetaCalculus, it had “canned mathematics” under the hood, but it also had “canned engineering” (MetaEngineering) – the Space Shuttle simulation software in an alphabet of menu-interactive or batch-sequenced engineering processor elements. Also utilizing interactive graphics, it was a programable mission CAD system supporting snapshot visualization using Tektronix 4014 graphics terminals. Here are some snapshots of images generated during the planning simulations.

The FDS design was specifically “lowered” by this serious-game approach for use by technicians having no engineering modeling skills, and was deployed on dedicated mini-computers. It was used to design all the Shuttle missions, primarily by contractors operating in this low skill mode, designing mission data programs to execute the canned engineering processors to configure all of the possible maneuvers and experiment activities of a mission.

FDS was a seamless groupware system in which each designer focused on a segment of the mission, e.g. a single orbit, and usually a specific engineering design task, e.g. payload launch maneuvering or experiment control, while computing a sub-design that was later integrated into the overall mission design. Typically overall integration of the individual tasks was an "overnight" number crunching job, whose results resulted in the need for further manual changes in the designer's "local solutions".

The following links describe the FDS and advanced deployments of it for mission time re-planning.