Autonomous mission scheduling, a new concept for NASA ground data systems, is a decentralized and distributed approach to scientific spacecraft planning, scheduling, and command management. Systems and services are provided that enable investigators to operate their own instruments. In autonomous mission scheduling, separate nodes exist for each instrument and one or more operations nodes exist for the spacecraft. Each node is responsible for its own operations which include planning, scheduling, and commanding; and for resolving conflicts with other nodes. One or more database servers accessible to all nodes enable each to share mission and science planning, scheduling, and commanding information. The architecture for autonomous mission scheduling is based upon a realistic mix of state-of-the-art and emerging technology and services, e.g., high performance individual workstations, high speed communications, client-server computing, and relational databases. The concept is particularly suited to the smaller, less complex missions of the future.