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NASA Develops Space Launch System Flight Software

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Developing launch vehicle flight software requires a big focus on embedded systems and quality attributes such as safety. To develop such mission-critical software systems, sophisticated test beds are necessary. According to a NASA press release  from the 31st of May, the software test bed computers for the new Space Launch System (SLS) are now available.

As mentioned in the press release,

The SLS will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond Earth's orbit. Designed to be flexible for crew or cargo missions, SLS and Orion will be safe, affordable, sustainable and continue America's journey of discovery from the unique vantage point of space.

Todd May, the program manager, explains why the test beds are so important:

SLS will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever built, and it requires the most capable flight software in the history of human spaceflight. Having this avionics hardware in place early will allow the NASA SLS team and Boeing to accelerate the flight software development.

With the help of Boeing’s test bed flight computers NASA will fine-tune their launch vehicle’s software. Using the test bed systems, the development team can run simulations where the vehicle moves in space.

In Systems Integration projects with different disciplines such as software, mechatronics, electronics it is essential for software development to leverage simulations and test beds. This is due to the fact that software increments typically happen very frequently which does not hold for the other disciplines. This simulations, prototypes and test beds help software engineers to ensure the quality of their systems even in the absence of the actual hardware.

For more information on the program visit NASA’s SLS web site.

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Community comments

  • Space Shuttle flight control software

    by Dean Schulze,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Here is an article about the space shuttle flight control software and the extent to which the engineers went to assure that it was reliable enough to risk human life on:

    That is what I call extreme programming.

  • Re: Space Shuttle flight control software

    by Michael Stal,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Thanks for the link. Really awesome article

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