Session

Technical Session 13: Future Missions/Capabilities

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Should we abolish the Class System? The Class A/B/C/D mission assurance and risk posture designations familiar to most satellite developers were established in 1986. They are used by both the Department of Defense (DoD) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to define risk and risk mitigation requirements for flight missions. However, many of today’s satellites are different – smaller, digitally engineered, designed for production, and increasingly destined for proliferated architectures. The rate of development is increasing while the uniqueness of the systems being built is decreasing.

The need to move faster and the ability to utilize, for the first time in space, real product-line components challenges the premise and assumptions behind the Class A through D designations. The traditional “Class System” is not as applicable to most small satellite developments, which instead focus on ways to prioritize key, high impact, agile processes in an effort to cut costs and timelines. Operating within this environment requires satellite developers to apply practices that are agnostic to class definition (e.g., the practices that are most fundamental to ensuring the mission meets the needs).

This paper outlines the Class Agnostic approach and constraints-based mission implementation practices. It will describe several real-life examples from Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile System Center, and Space Rapid Capabilities Office missions that are applying a “class agnostic” approach to their missions. It will include lessons learned from missions which failed critical Do No Harm requirements and lost a flight to missions that have fully utilized the class agnostic approach. It will also discuss how the several missions used class-agnostic techniques to balance requirements of scope, risk, cost, and schedule to maximize the chances of mission success within hard constraints. The approaches used in these missions are applicable not only to small satellites, but also to any mission intending to move beyond the “Class System” to a more agile and flexible mindset for risk mitigation and mission assurance.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 12th, 11:00 AM

How Satellites are Moving Beyond the Class System: Class Agnostic Development and Operations Approaches for Constraints-Driven Missions

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Should we abolish the Class System? The Class A/B/C/D mission assurance and risk posture designations familiar to most satellite developers were established in 1986. They are used by both the Department of Defense (DoD) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to define risk and risk mitigation requirements for flight missions. However, many of today’s satellites are different – smaller, digitally engineered, designed for production, and increasingly destined for proliferated architectures. The rate of development is increasing while the uniqueness of the systems being built is decreasing.

The need to move faster and the ability to utilize, for the first time in space, real product-line components challenges the premise and assumptions behind the Class A through D designations. The traditional “Class System” is not as applicable to most small satellite developments, which instead focus on ways to prioritize key, high impact, agile processes in an effort to cut costs and timelines. Operating within this environment requires satellite developers to apply practices that are agnostic to class definition (e.g., the practices that are most fundamental to ensuring the mission meets the needs).

This paper outlines the Class Agnostic approach and constraints-based mission implementation practices. It will describe several real-life examples from Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile System Center, and Space Rapid Capabilities Office missions that are applying a “class agnostic” approach to their missions. It will include lessons learned from missions which failed critical Do No Harm requirements and lost a flight to missions that have fully utilized the class agnostic approach. It will also discuss how the several missions used class-agnostic techniques to balance requirements of scope, risk, cost, and schedule to maximize the chances of mission success within hard constraints. The approaches used in these missions are applicable not only to small satellites, but also to any mission intending to move beyond the “Class System” to a more agile and flexible mindset for risk mitigation and mission assurance.