Leveraging COTS to Develop Standard Space Processing Architectures

Ian Troxel and Scott Anderson, SEAKR Engineering, Inc.

Presentation at the Meeting on Fault-Tolerant Spaceborne Computing Employing New Technologies


The space computing industry is a niche market with specialized needs that has too often developed custom architecture solutions for subsequent missions, even while attempting to use standardized components. Reinventing the wheel has typically proven costly, especially if the "wheel" isn't compatible with "vehicles" thriving with much support in commercial/commodity markets. Standards-based approaches to space hardware development have made a successful impact on system architecture designs, most notably commercial backplane technologies. However, simultaneously, numerous standardization efforts have failed for various reasons such as institutional resistance, design incompatibilities, technology maturity level insufficient, scope too broad or too narrow, rapid obsolescence, etc. There is a continuing goal to establish standards within the industry to reduce cost, risk and schedule but history teaches that there are potential pitfalls along the road to the standardized processing architecture for space.

This talk proposes a context within which the space industry should consider standardization and provides recommendations based on lessons learned from the industry's scrap-heap of failed standardization efforts. The talk will also include a brief overview of SEAKR's architecture methodology and examples of how standardized COTS hardware and tools have been leveraged to develop flexible architectures that target multiple missions.

Document date May 21, 2009.