Exploring classification algorithms for early mission formulation cost estimation

Marc Sanchez Net, Daniel Selva, Alessandro Golkar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Current cost estimation methods for early mission formulation typically use parametric regressions and analogies based on historical data sets. This approach, while widely spread in industry, is also subject to critique due to large parameter uncertainty and due to the reliance on small data sets on which regressions are based. Issues are accentuated in early mission formulation efforts, due to the immaturity of the mission concept and technical data available in preliminary design phases. In other words, conventional cost estimation methods sometimes have too high ambitions for the quantity of the information available in early mission formulation. Yet, cost estimation is of primary importance to determine feasibility of a mission within a space program. In this paper, we explore less ambitious approaches based on machine learning algorithms that are better suited to cost estimation for early mission formulation. In particular, we use classification algorithms to categorize missions into a predefined number of cost classes, e.g. Discovery or Flagship mission class. We compare different classification algorithms, study the performance and the utility of different levels of granularity in class definition, and test the proposed approaches on selected Earth Observation missions for which public information on cost is available. The methodology proposed in this paper provides an alternative approach for early cost estimation of new missions to cost and systems engineers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2014 IEEE Aerospace Conference
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Print)9781479916221
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event2014 IEEE Aerospace Conference - Big Sky, MT, United States
Duration: 1 Mar 20148 Mar 2014

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Conference2014 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky, MT


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