Space, Mission Assurance and a Disconcerting Lack of Explosions


Space, Mission Assurance and a Disconcerting Lack of Explosions

Almost every space movie has one thing in common: explosions. Hollywood certainly knows how to blow things up, and that is great for entertainment value. But in the real world, we work on ways to ensure that those explosive anomalies stay in the fiction category and never happen.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to SpaceCom, a conference dedicated to the commercial business opportunities of space. I, and my Engility colleagues, worked on teaming discussions, developing partnerships and collaborating on comprehensive approaches to meet evolving mission requirements and new commercial opportunities in the space industry. Space travel, experiments on the International Space Station, affordable Internet access to the masses—the possibilities are endless, and SpaceCom is the place to discuss them.

Space Mission Assurance While exploring the concepts on display at the show, it was obvious that no one wants their space assets to blow up like in the movies. Everyone has a vested interest in mission assurance, and Engility was invited to present on the topic as an industry expert, presenting on faster, resilient, secure and more affordable mission systems.

Through Engility’s IV&V and software assurance support, we help ensure the compliance, quality and capabilities of NASA’s development efforts on space technologies, including ISS, Orion, SLS, Mars Rovers, satellites, and ground command and control systems. My colleagues also support missions to explore earth and the universe, including future moon and Mars robotic and human expeditions. Our partners at SpaceCom were eager to learn more about the work Engility performs on IV&V, software assurance and cyber assessments for human space flight and science missions at multiple NASA centers.

Engility is proud to support these programs, and they have taught us a lot of lessons applicable to commercial space. SpaceCom offered me the chance to meet with aerospace and industry executives; policy makers and procurement officers from international government agencies; and space and defense analysts and consultants. All of them agreed that mission assurance is increasingly important as more and more innovative opportunities emerge for people to live and work in space. We have to design systems that will not fail in the harshest of conditions as we venture farther out. We need Hollywood-proof systems that operate as planned every time — with no booms.

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Posted by Mike Pritchard

Mike is acting VP for Civil Space and Missile Defense at Engility. He is also the Outreach Chair for the National Space Club. Among his engineering accomplishments, Mike coordinated engineering activities on a program to re-host the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) ground system to a new operating environment and served as a lead test engineer responsible for testing ground system hardware and software including numerous data and voice systems. Mike has received numerous individual and group awards for his work at NASA including Space Flight Awareness in 2002 and multiple group awards for his support of HST and the 3A and 3B Servicing Missions.