A framework for space systems architecture under stakeholder objectives ambiguity

Alessandro Golkar, Edward F. Crawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Matching high ambitions with scarce resources is one of the primary challenges of aerospace and other industries concerned with the development of unprecedented infrastructures, on par with the technical challenges associated with developing new technology. Stakeholder objectives are often unclear due to highly exploratory business cases. Further ambiguity emerges from disagreement between stakeholders and decisionmakers called to formulate scientific, technological and policy requirements for new systems. This paper develops a structured approach, called the Delphi-based Systems Architecting Framework (DB-SAF), which has been conceived to develop recommendations to system architects concerned with the design of unprecedented large infrastructures for which objectives are ambiguous or unclear. The objectives of DB-SAF are to identify sources of ambiguity in the value proposition of a system architecture and the associated trade-space exploration, characterize and model sources of ambiguity, and assess the impact of requirement ambiguities on the architectural trade space. The proposed systems architecting approach is demonstrated in this paper through the assessment of a robotic Mars Sample Return Campaign, which serves as a test bed case study to describe the proposed methodology and to discuss its extension to other fields of engineering. The proposed framework integrates methods from systems engineering, computational systems architecting, multidisciplinary systems design and optimization, uncertainty modeling, utility theory, and social science research. It allows decision makers to visualize an architectural synthesis of aerospace systems, understanding adverse impacts of ambiguity, and supporting negotiations among stakeholders for efficient compromise in systems architecting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-502
Number of pages24
JournalSystems Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Modeling and simulation
  • Project formulation
  • Requirements elicitation and management
  • Stakeholders ambiguity
  • Systems architecture


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