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New Efforts Needed To Improve Software For Space Systems And Operations

By | September 13, 2000

      BETHESDA, Md.–Satellite manufacturers and launch vehicle providers must take more responsibility with software providers in all project phases, as new commercial systems are conceived, built and deployed.

      That was the main message relayed here Sept. 7 from industry leaders at the Second Annual Software Solutions For The Space Industry Forum.

      Organized by the International Space Business Council (ISBC), the forum pinpointed what contractors and customers must do to succeed in business development.

      “Getting a balance between customers and contractors is key,” said Chris Bourassa, president of L-3 Storm Control Systems, a division of L-3 Communications Corp. [LLL]. “In a procurement contract, clients can’t put all the wants in the needs category.”

      One of the significant needs facing the space industry lies in more software systems automation. The risks involved, however, now must be taken into account.

      “We have to start appreciating the increase of vulnerability in our space industry when automation takes a significant role in software execution,” added Phil Lacombe, president of Veridian’s Information & Infrastructure Protection Sector.

      This increased risk already has rocked the space industry. Indeed, software-related glitches are believed to be one of the contributing causes to at least five launch failures of both commercial and non-commercial rockets during 1998-99. The estimated costs of these failures is a whopping $3 billion.

      “Responsibility and reliability is key,” said Col. Henry Baird, deputy director of launch systems, U.S. Air Force Space & Missile Command. “We are working on and implementing a risk management plan for the [Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle] program to make high-risk areas in the future much safer.”

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