MIT Strategic Engineering

Space Systems Logistics

Space Systems Logistics is an active area of research and practice aimed at enabling more effective space exploration and operations. Rather than conducting "one-mission-at-a-time" as has been done in the past, we study how campaigns of human and robotic space missions can be conducted in a more sustainable way. This includes understanding the impact of commonality and reconfigurability, as well as the role that new technologies and concepts may play in future exploration and space operations.

The field of space logistics includes modeling, planning, simulation and optimization of the flow of vehicles (elements), crew, and supply items (cargo/payload) from the landing, manufacturing and refurbishment sites on Earth, through ground processing, launch, in-space operations, entry-descent-and-landing, as well as planetary surface operations. Both the flow of materials and information is studied and coordinated. Research extends into the use of new technologies (such as RFID) and sensor networks for automatic tracking of elements, crew and supply items as well as In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) so that not everything has to be brought from Earth as we explore further and further.

Example: Earth-Mars logistical network with ΔV [km/s] shown along each transportation link:

Our specific contributions to space systems design and logistics include:

Publications about Space Systems Logistics