Software configuration management for safety related applications in space systems: extending the application of the USAF 8-Step method

Johnson, C. (2010) Software configuration management for safety related applications in space systems: extending the application of the USAF 8-Step method. In: International Asosciation for the Advancement of Space Safety Conference, Huntsville, Alabama, 19-21 May 2010,

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Configuration management ensures that the requirements and constraints, identified in previous stages of development, are preserved throughout the design, implementation and operation of complex systems. Space-related, software systems pose particular problems because, for instance, it can be hard to determine what code is actually running on a platform as successive updates are performed over many months of remote operation. It is, therefore, important we learn as much as possible from previous mishaps that have involved configuration management; given that software continues to play a critical role in the safety of many space missions. The following pages extend the US Air Force’s 8-Step Method to identify lessons learned from space related incidents. This approach builds on Boyd’s OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) Loop and provides a common framework for the analysis of these complex incidents. It is important to stress that the application of an existing general approach to problem solving, rather than the development of a specific approach for configuration management, is intended to reduce training costs and to increase the value added from existing investments in the use of the 8-Step Method. Many specialised software engineering techniques are not used because they cannot easily be applied within the financial limits and deadlines that constrain most space programmes. The closing sections of this paper identify areas for further work; in particular, we stress the importance of links with recent European Space Agency problem solving techniques that support the early-stage development of long duration space missions.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Johnson, Professor Chris
Authors: Johnson, C.
Subjects:Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
538791Method for configuration management in safety critical softwareChristopher JohnsonEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/I004289/1Computing Science