ESA Keynote: The Significance of Flight Software for Space Programmes - A European Learning Curve
Since the turn of the century the programme envelope of the European Space Agency has grown in scope and diversity. Flight software follows this trend and plays an increasingly deterministic role in the definition of the system architecture, the complexity and duration of the on-ground test and verification phase and the flexibility of in-orbit operations. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) launched in March of this year is at the top end range of complexity. It represents a highly software-intensive autonomous spacecraft where a failure in the vicinity of the International Space Station (ISS) could have catastrophic consequences, endangering human life. On the other end of the scale the launch of GIOVE-A in December 2005 concluded a tight schedule development programme of an ESA test-bed satellite used to secure the frequencies allocated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the European Galileo system. Although completely different in scope both spacecraft rely on robust last resort software to reduce the risk of not meeting the mission objectives. This presentation will provide a short overview of how ESA is learning to adopt software development and testing to the needs of its programmes.