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SpaceX And NASA To Improve Mission Critical Software Systems

Computer rendering of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft approaching the International Space Station, where it is grappled by a robotic arm, then attached to the station's docking adapter. Graphic credit: Business Wire
by Staff Writers
Hawthorne CA (SPX) Jun 06, 2008
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) and NASA's Independent Verification and Validation (IV and V) Facility at Fairmont, West Virginia, working through the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, announced the signing of a Space Act Agreement effort to advance the state of the art in mission- and safety-critical software that will be used for sending SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.

SpaceX was selected by NASA under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop and demonstrate vehicles, systems, and operations needed to perform space flight demonstrations, including rendezvous and berthing with ISS. SpaceX is teaming with NASA's IV and V/GSFC facility to enhance confidence in mission- and safety-critical software elements.

Specifically, NASA's IV and V Facility will provide an additional layer of assessment and mission assurance, including a full analysis of the system software for a SpaceX-developed UHF communications unit. The system provides low-cost, high reliability space-to-space communications directly between Dragon and ISS.

The Dragon spacecraft also utilizes NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), the Global Positioning System (GPS), and the Iridium commercial satellite telephone system for maximum flexibility and performance.

"NASA's IV and V Facility will provide SpaceX with invaluable expertise and add an additional layer of scrutiny as we move forward with our cargo delivery missions to the ISS," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. "No other group has more experience in mission- and life-critical systems; their independent review will insure that our crew transport systems will perform to the highest possible safety requirements."

The IV and V effort will be funded by SpaceX, and will benefit both SpaceX and NASA by providing assurance that the cargo- and crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft will perform as expected under a wide range of scenarios. This agreement is to be executed in three phases, with the first two phases worth nearly five hundred thousand dollars.

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NASA chief backs proposal for European spaceship
Paris (AFP) June 5, 2008
NASA chief Mike Griffin on Thursday threw his weight behind calls for Europe to build its own manned spacecraft.

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