SpaceX Moves to Resolve Software Issues

Space News
reports that SpaceX has moved to resolve previous concerns about the software development for its Dragon spacecraft, which is set to visit the International Space Station next year:

A generally positive outside review of the two firms under contract to deliver cargo to the international space station (ISS) contained strong concerns about software development procedures at Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) — concerns the company and the head of a NASA safety panel said have since been addressed….

“SpaceX is entrepreneurial; their thinking is a fresh approach … However, their comments with regard to software were very disturbing and presented a lack of insight and sophistication in what can go wrong in this business,” the summary states. Thomas Stafford, the retired Apollo astronaut who chairs the ISS Advisory Committee, submitted the summary to Congress as part of his Oct. 12 testimony before a House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee hearing on ISS safety.

“The SpaceX software presentation was unsettling to the review team,” the summary continues. “There was no Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) accredited capability or process, and the software chief [at SpaceX] said he didn’t worry about errors because ‘there were no mistakes in the software.’ In the Review Team’s experience, this is unlikely.”

Joseph Dyer, the chairman of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, said in an Oct. 19 phone interview that since the August meeting, “we’ve had the strongest assurance from SpaceX that [software] will be an item of special attention.”

Dyer added that “there’s been a lot of good discussion between NASA, SpaceX and [the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel]” and that the software concerns raised in August were now “the farthest from my mind.”

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