Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

Committee Chair(s)

Stephen W. Clyde


Stephen W. Clyde


David E. Brown


Curtis E. Dyreson


Chad D. Mano


Dan W. Watson


The space systems industry is moving towards smaller multi-vendor satellites, known as Small Space. This shift is driven by economic and technological factors that necessitate hardware and software components that are modular, reusable, and secure. This research addresses two problems associated with the development of modular, reusable, and secure space systems: developing software for space systems (the Development Problem) and securing space systems (the Security Problem). These two problems are interrelated and this research addresses them together.

The Development Problem encompasses challenges that space systems developers face as they try to address the constraints induced by reduced budgets, design and development lifecycles, maintenance allowances, multi-vendor component integration and testing timelines. In order to satisfy these constraints a single small satellite might incorporate hardware and software components from dozens of organizations with independent workforces and schedules. The Security Problem deals with growing need to ensure that each one of these software or hardware components behaves according to policy or system design as well as the typical cybersecurity concerns that face any information system.

This research addresses the Development Problem by exploring the needs and barriers of Small Space to find the best path forward for the space systems industry to catch up with the methodology advancements already being widely used in other software fields. To do this exploration a series of five surveys, referred to as SISDPA, was conducted to assess current attitudes and state of practice among space system developers. This crystallized a need in space system development — modular reusable open networks can help Small Space realize its potential, but there is still need to address certain security threats.

This research addresses the Security Problem by augmenting a modular reusable open-network software development framework, called SSM, by adding policy enforcement in the form of authentication, access control, and encryption provisions, to create a new development framework, SSSM. This design and implementation adds security provisions while minimizing the impact on developers using the framework. SSSM is evaluated in terms of developer and system resource burden and shows that SSSM does not significantly increase developer burden and preserves the ease-of-use of SSM.