Agile Embedded System Development versus European Space Standards

Agile Embedded System Development versus European Space Standards

Ville Rantala (Technology Research Center, University of Turku, Turku, Finland), Kaisa Könnölä (Technology Research Center, University of Turku, Turku, Finland), Samuli Suomi (Technology Research Center, University of Turku, Turku, Finland), Minna Isomäki (Technology Research Center, University of Turku, Turku, Finland) and Teijo Lehtonen (Technology Research Center, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/IJISSC.2017010101
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


Agile development methods are widely utilized in software development. There is a growing interest and effort to introduce them to other areas of technology, such as development of space systems. Space systems are typically safety- and mission-critical and therefore their development is strongly regulated and standardized. European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) has created a collection of standards which are extensively followed mainly in European space projects. In this paper, a review and discussion are presented to find out the conflicts between the agile development and the ECSS standards. The presented analysis and discussion show that the ECSS standards do not fully prevent the utilization of agile methods. However, there are aspects to be taken into account in the development methods, contracts and tailoring of standards.
Article Preview


Agile development methods have gained significant popularity in software engineering. They aim to make the product development more efficient and flexible without causing additional strain to the engineers. Agile methods also aim to improve collaboration between engineers and customers so that the product fulfils the actual requirements and the problems may be identified as early as possible during the development process (Larman, 2004).

ECSS standards (European Cooperation for Space Standardization) are commonly used in space projects of the European space industry, mostly organized by ESA (European Space Agency). Many European space projects are distributed among many subcontractors of which many are small and medium enterprises developing embedded systems. Their interest in adopting agile methods in embedded system development raises questions about applicability of agile methods in the projects controlled by ECSS standards.

Utilizing agile methods in the development of complex safety- and mission-critical space systems can be challenging. Predominant standards and regulations can limit the utilization of several product development practices and instruct how the work shall be done. However, concurrent engineering practices, which share characteristics with agile development, have already been utilized in the European space industry, especially in the early phases of mission projects of European Space Agency.

In this paper, the ECSS standards are reviewed to identify the conflicts that arise when agile methods are applied in embedded system development in complex space system projects. First, the background aspects, including agile development, the ECSS standards and related studies, are presented. Then the utilized research method for systematic processing of the standards is presented. Finally, the conflicting and non-conflicting standards are reviewed and the mitigation of the conflicts is discussed to draw the conclusions.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Open Access Articles: Forthcoming
Volume 13: 4 Issues (2022): 2 Released, 2 Forthcoming
Volume 12: 4 Issues (2021)
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2020)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (2019)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2011)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2010)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing