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Agile Approach to Assuring the Safety-Critical Embedded Software for NASA's Orion SpacecraftHuman-rated missions like those in NASA's Orion Program continue to grow in complexity. The role of software in achieving ambitious mission objectives has expanded dramatically in the last few decades. Assuring the safety and performance of the embedded flight software is quickly growing beyond the reach of traditional methods and resource levels. The methods used to build these software-dominant systems evolve in an on-going attempt to keep pace with the scope of our ambitions. Agile software development is now commonplace. The long timelines and large batches of work associated with traditional methods are being replaced by rapid delivery of small increments _ as system capabilities are realized in waves. Assurance of these critical software capabilities must therefore conquer an ever-expanding frontier of challenges, and do so with an approach matched to the evolving development methods. This paper recounts the journey of the Orion Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) team as we addressed this dynamic environment. Widening our aperture to encompass a dramatically larger mission scope, while adjusting our cadence to synchronize with the rapid pace of agile software development, a new approach to IV&V is emerging. This approach is characterized by a sharper focus on mission capabilities, matched with a method to dynamically _follow the risk' as the IV&V team delivers more compelling assurance data in waves. Traditional methods prevalent in IV&V tend to scope the work using artifacts of the development process as they evolve from preliminary to final versions, and the pace of delivery was synchronized with the development timelines prevalent in the waterfall lifecycle. That more static approach is out of phase with the demands of the new environment. Scoping work according to the critical capabilities of the system (rather than artifacts of development) and synchronizing with the rapid pace of agile development, we are moving toward more effective parity with the demands of the environment. We explain the concrete steps we took, the principles that motivated our choices, and the results we have achieved to date.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Goddard Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Justin Smith
(Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility Fairmont, West Virginia, United States)
John Bradbury
(Engility (United States) Chantilly, Virginia, United States)
Will Hayes
(Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States)
Wes Deadrick
(Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility Fairmont, West Virginia, United States)
Date Acquired
March 12, 2019
Publication Date
June 20, 2019
Publication Information
Publication: 2019 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISSN: 1095-323X
ISBN: 9781538668559
e-ISBN: 9781538668542
Subject Category
Quality Assurance And Reliability
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: 40th International IEEE Aerospace Conference
Location: Big Sky, MT
Country: US
Start Date: March 2, 2019
End Date: March 9, 2019
Sponsors: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Prognostics and Health Management Society, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
NASA Peer Committee
Capability based assurance
Agile IV&V
Incremental risk assessment
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