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No compromise on reliability or safety

Space Systems Finland specialises in software engineering for applications where reliability cannot be compromised. With a long history in on-board software projects for many of Europe’s most ambitious space missions, the company provides no-compromise solutions for fields ranging from the nuclear industry to the medical world.
Space Systems Finland Ltd.

A major part of our everyday safety depends on the software embedded in the systems around us functioning without a hitch – whether it is the brakes in our cars, the doors of the trains we commute to work in, the airspace control systems guiding the planes we fly in, or the automated safety systems in the nuclear power plants supplying us with electricity.

Space Systems Finland has built up the expertise and experience needed to deliver software capable of meeting the strictest requirements called for in these types of applications. A number of the company’s major references can be seen in the evening sky, in the shape of embedded software controlling the attitude, orbit, and other key functions of the satellites used in the European Space Agency’s earth observation and science programmes.

Space Systems Finland has provided the platform application software for the European Space Agency’s GOCE satellite. Designed to extend our understanding of one of the most fundamental forces of nature, the gravity field surround the earth, the Earth Explorer satellite is due to be launched in 2009. Photos courtesy and copyright ESA.

In addition to these flagship space applications, SSF offers a range of embedded software development and atmospheric data processing services; GPS and Galileo signal generators and navigation solutions; and customised verification and validation services.

Building in reliability

Strict process conformance, disciplined design, detailed project control, and skilled engineering resources are essential in applications subject to strict reliability and safety requirements. Space Systems Finland’s RAMS (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety) engineering provides full traceability from the system specification stage through implementation to testing.

Given the complexity of the systems SSF is involved with, and the major repercussions that would follow from any system failure, testing is particularly critical – and goes well beyond the type of simple testing that can only detect faults for which a specific test case exists. Thanks to its experience in developing its own safety-critical software and evaluating systems developed by others, SSF can provide just the expertise needed here.

Starting from formal model verification, SSF can define, set up, and implement comprehensive software V&V and PA/QA processes and practices, as well as audit existing arrangements. This can be especially useful when verifying and validating the use of off-the-shelf products in safety-critical applications, such as standard electrical equipment in a nuclear facility. SSF has also carried out independent software verification and validation (ISVV) for the full on-board platform of the INTEGRAL satellite, for example, and is closely involved in ISVV work on the Galileo satellite navigation system.

> Timo Latvala
(Published in HighTech Finland 2009)