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How to Future-Proof Your Space Software System

Last week, in our previous blog post we discussed different types of risks that lurk around space software development and the importance of being able to tackle them. If not addressed, the consequences can be dire leading to re-development, significant delays and even mission failures.

This week we will look at what can be done in practical terms in order to future-proof your space software system.

 

Integration, integration, integration

 

We cannot stress enough the importance of integration and seamless flow of data across all of the subsystems.

As a minimum, a typical mission needs onboard or flight software, test and simulation software, operations software and service delivery software. All of these systems need to work well together and ensure any change is captured and reflected across the entire infrastructure. Fragmentation within this end-to-end system and any part of it being disjointed or managed differently is very likely to lead to inefficiency and increased risk.

There’s also another side to this problem if we look at it in time over the lifespan of the space system. Satellites within a constellation require constant replenishment, which means any new or additional spacecraft is likely to be slightly different – you may want to upgrade your onboard technology, add new functionality or simply source a cheaper hardware vendor. As a result, software development becomes an ongoing activity that is constantly taking place throughout the lifespan of the system and this constant change needs to be reflected in the architecture.

One way to solve the integration challenge is through a model-based approach that stretches across the entire space system and allows developers to optimise their performance by making sure all the information about the system is automatically captured in a model and reflected across the whole infrastructure.

In simple terms, this means that should you make a software update or replenish your constellation with a new spacecraft using different hardware – this change will be automatically noted and shared across the entire ground-space system with minimal configuration on your part.

You can learn more about model-based end-to-end software systems in our previous blog post The Future of Space Software Technologies.

 

Scalability and flexibility

 

All large-scale space systems start small with a demonstration mission to test the viability of the service with more and more spacecraft added gradually as the constellation grows to reach its intended capacity. Getting it right from the beginning, keeping the system open to growth, innovation, new technology and functionality is key to scalability and success of your mission.

One way to address this is through a component-based approach and software re-use – when the entire system can be broken down into small self-contained software units, each responsible for particular functionality. You can then pick and choose the components you need to create your unique software packages, a bit like building blocks.

As the components can simply be swapped in and out without re-building the system from scratch, any new mission software can be developed very quickly from existing material with minimal effort and at minimal cost, making your constellation entirely future-proof and open to any new additions – whether it’s new functionality through a software update or a whole new spacecraft with emerging innovative technology.

You can learn more about the component-based approach by booking a demo of our flight software development kit or requesting a free trial.

 

Clever software architecture

 

Software architecture is the foundation of the system. By building effective architecture, you can identify design risks and mitigate them early in the development process.

Good software architecture will

  • ensure your platform is open, scalable and adaptable;
  • optimise and increase your performance;
  • manage change and reduce complexity a lot more efficiently;
  • help reduce mission costs;
  • reduce development time and time to market.

But the more complex you expect your space system to be in the long run, the more difficult it is to design good, stable and scalable software architecture. Much of the challenge comes from the fact that there are no guidelines, manuals or precise rules of how you should design the architecture of your particular system. It requires years of experience and tons of expertise and specialist skills, which are not always readily available for satellite developers and service providers.

At Bright Ascension, we know that simply gaining access to our cutting-edge products and solutions may not be enough, especially if you’ve got limited experience and are trying to build an innovative or intricate space-based system.

That’s why in addition to our innovative software products, one of the most significant benefits of working with us is the support and advice you get through our solid industry expertise. With over 11 years of experience and 40+ spacecraft flying our software in orbit, our team of experienced and skilled space software engineers will support you every step of the journey, advising on the best practices and design solutions to help you develop the state-of-the-art software your mission needs.

Contact us for more information to discuss your mission goals, what you are hoping to achieve and how we can help you to design a software system that will be quick to develop, easy to use, adaptable and scalable and won’t cost the Earth to build and maintain.  

Future-proofing you space software system and making sure it lasts is by no means easy, but launch after launch we are proving that the right products, technology and expertise are exactly what’s needed for success.

 

Learn more: Book a Demo

 

We’ve been evolving our technology over the past 12 years through extensive development work. During this time, our software has powered more than 50 spacecraft in orbit, helping them to maximise their mission potential. 

Contact us today to see our products in action and arrange a one-to-one demo of our software, tailored to your unique mission needs and requirements.