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Published September 11, 2017 | Submitted
Report Open

The Design of Mechanisms to Allocate Space Station Resources


This paper demonstrates the use of applied organizational design to investigate possible mechanisms to allocate the resources of Space Station. First, a specific laboratory experimental environment (testbed) and baseline policy are developed using the salient technical features of the Space Station and past Space Shuttle experiences. The use of priority contracts to assist in contingent rescheduling of resources due to supply curtailments is established. Next, generalized versions of an English auction and Vickrey-Groves type sealed bid auction are designed and developed to allocate scheduled resource use and priority. Finally, these mechanisms are tested and evaluated in the testbed. The data demonstrates that the expected efficiency increases significantly using the auction mechanisms rather than allocations from first-come-first-served processes. However, the auction mechanisms do not produce outcomes near the 100% level of efficiency. Several results are dedicated to the revenue generating properties of the mechanisms and individual bidding behavior.

Additional Information

We would like to acknowledge the computer programming assistance of Peter Gray and Mark Olson. We would like to thank Bob Benson of NASA (Payload Engineering) for his patience in answering our many questions concerning Spacelab allocation procedures. Financial assistance from the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech and from JPL is gratefully acknowledged.

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