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Advances in Aircraft and Spacecraft Science
  Volume 1, Number 2, April 2014, pages 197-218

An optimization framework to tackle challenging cargo accommodation tasks in space engineering
Giorgio Fasano, Cristina Gastaldia, Annamaria Pirasb and Dario Saiac

    Quite a demanding task frequently arises in space engineering, when dealing with the cargo accommodation of modules and vehicles. The objective of this effort usually aims at maximizing the loaded cargo, or, at least, at meeting the logistic requirements posed by the space agencies. Complex accommodation rules are supposed to be taken into account, in compliance with strict balancing conditions and very tight operational restrictions. The context of the International Space Station (ISS) has paved the way for a relevant research and development activity, providing the company with a remarkable expertise in the field. CAST (Cargo Accommodation Support Tool) is a dedicated in-house software package (funded by the European Space Agency, ESA, and achieved by Thales Alenia Space), to carry out the whole loading of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). An ad hoc version, tailored to the Columbus (ISS attached laboratory) on-board stowage issue, has been further implemented and is to be used from now on. This article surveys the overall approach followed, highlighting the advantages of the methodology put forward, both in terms of solution quality and time saving, through an overview of the outcomes obtained to date. Insights on possible extensions to further space applications, especially in the perspective of the paramount challenges of the near future, are, in addition, presented.
Key Words
    analytical cargo accommodation; space module/vehicle loading optimization; static/dynamic balancing; operational constraints; non-standard packing problems with additional conditions; loading optimization; International Space Station (ISS) logistic support; (Columbus) on-board stowage; Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV, ESA) cargo accommodation
Giorgio Fasano, Cristina Gastaldia, Annamaria Pirasb and Dario Saiac : Thales Alenia Space Strada Antica di Collegno 253, 10146 Torino (TO), Italy

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