In our age, stars are not the only thing in space. According to data from the ESA (European Space Agency), there are currently over 5000 satellites orbiting around Earth, among which only 1950 are still functioning. The satellites that are broken or turned off contribute to a great mass of space debris, of different kind and sizes, that are lost in the Earth’s atmosphere and whose amount is estimated to be of more than 8400 tonnes.
Standards can contribute to solve this problem. This is at least the case for recently approved EN 16602-80:2018 “Space product assurance - Software product assurance”. This standard defines a set of product assurance requirements for the control, development and maintenance of software for space systems. “Space systems” is an umbrella term that includes a variety of vectors, such as manned and unmanned spacecraft, launchers, payloads, experiments and their associated ground equipment and facilities.
The main objective of software product assurance is to ensure that the use of software is as safe as possible. In other words, it provides adequate confidence to customers and suppliers that the purchased software satisfies its requirements throughout the system lifetime and will perform properly and safely in its operational environment, meeting the necessary quality objectives.
The need to ensure high levels of safety is especially consistent in software created and used to manage space activities. For this reason, the requirements included in EN 16602-80:2018 deal with a variety of issues, such as quality management and framework, life cycle activities and process definition and quality characteristics of products, which affect the quality of the service provided by space systems.
This standard complements ECSS-E-ST-40 ‘Space engineering — Software general requirements’ on software engineering for space projects, developed by the European Cooperation for Space Standardization Committee (ECSS), one of CEN and CENELEC’s partner organisations. Together the two standards specify all processes for space software development. In this context, one of the main results of EN 16602-80 is that, by providing the tools to ensure the quality and safety of software for the control of space systems, it reduces the risk that they get lost or damaged. With clear benefits that are both economic (a lost or damaged satellite leads to very high costs) and environmental (as it reduces the creation of space debris).
EN 16602-80:2018 was developed by CEN/CLC/JTC 5 – Space, a joint Technical Committee between CEN and CENELEC dedicated to all standardization activities related to space. Its Secretariat is currently held by DIN, the German National Standardization Body.
For more information, please contact Thierry Legrand