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Work design and analysis for space-based manufacturing: a case analysis of initial design issues

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The purpose of the present research was to investigate the nature of potential manufacturing tasks humans may execute in a space environment. The success of space-based manufacturing (SBM) is suggested to be a precursor to permanent human presence in space. A working hypothesis for this study was that human work in the SBM environment would be substantially different from terrestrial manufacturing work. To investigate this hypothesis, a case analysis approach was developed that employed a function allocation and task analysis of a representative SBM process: the production of tailored industrial crystals. This research approach was chosen as the current state of engineering design for SBM is in the conceptual and early flow sheeting phases of a system life cycle. Results of the task analysis and function allocation process suggest response to corrective maintenance functions and to abnormal system conditions should be allocated to humans as opposed to automation. These results are discussed in relation to human factors engineering challenges associated with long-duration human presence in an SBM environment.
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Keywords: Function allocation; Space-based manufacturing; Work design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 202K Civil and Industrial Engineering Building, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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