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Agile methodology for spacecraft ground software development: A cultural shift

AuthorWortman, Kristin; Duncan, Brian; Melin, Eric;
KeywordsComputer software; NASA; Quality management; Space flight; Spacecraft; Parker Engineering
AbstractIn the Space Exploration Sector (SES) at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) the development of Mission Operations Ground Software (GSW) to support NASA and Department of Defense spacecraft missions has traditionally followed the incremental build methodology. As part of our continuous process improvement effort, the Agile methodology is being introduced as an alternative approach to software development. To meet the needs of sponsor requirements and satisfy our quality management processes a tailoring of Agile is required. Development of ground software tools is currently in progress at JHU/APL to support NASA s Solar Probe Plus (SPP) Mission Operations. Tool development for spacecraft operation planning activities is paving the way for the cultural shift to agile methodology on candidate projects. The user community, the SPP Mission Operations team located at JHU/APL, supports the Agile Manifesto of heavy user involvement, the need for flexibility to evolve requirements and deliver frequent software releases to support readiness activities for the SPP launch in the summer of 2018. Agile was implemented following Scrum on two SPP GSW products, a spacecraft software simulator and the spacecraft activity planning tool. The paper will briefly introduce the heritage development process and compare this process with the evolving Agile approach. The discussion will include an assessment of how Agile methodology is being tailored using Scrum to adhere to our quality management processes (e.g., peer reviews, software assurance) to meet sponsor compliance requirements for current and future JHU/APL spacecraft missions. The current SPP GSW projects implementing Agile and the experiences and lessons learned to date will be highlighted throughout the paper.
© 2017 IEEE.
Year of Publication2017
JournalIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
Number of Pages
Date Published