DEVELOPING AND SECURING SOFTWARE FOR SMALL SPACE SYSTEMS

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DEVELOPING AND SECURING SOFTWARE FOR SMALL SPACE Systems is a well-researched Physical Sciences and Mathematics Thesis/Dissertation topic, it is to be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.

Abstract

This research addresses two problems associated with developing smaller multi-vendor satellites for Small Space. These two problems interrelate and this research addresses them together. The Development Problem deals with the development of modular, reusable, and secure space systems while the Security Problem encompasses securing these space systems.

This research addresses the Development Problem by conducting a series of five surveys, referred to as Space Industry Software Development Practices and Attitudes (SISDPA), 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 a need to address certain security threats.

This research addresses the Security Problem by creating Secured Space Plug-and-Play Services Manager (SSSM), a secure modular reusable open-network software development framework based on Space Plug-and-Play Services Manager (SSM).

SSSM adds security provisions while minimizing the impact on developers using the framework. An evaluation of SSSM shows that it preserves the ease-of-use of SSM while adding policy enforcement in the form of authentication, access control, and encryption provisions.

INTRODUCTION

The space systems industry is moving away from large monolithic satellites, known as Big Space, to smaller multi-vendor satellites, known as Small Space. This shift, driven by demand for lower costs, shorter schedules, new technology, and the ongoing government capability space race, requires hardware and software components to be substantially more modular, reusable, and secure than in the past. For example, a single small satellite might incorporate hardware and software components from dozens of organizations with independent workforces and schedules.

To be efficient, not only do these organizations need to complete their components with minimal coordination, the components need to be decoupled as much possible so they are isolated from a change in other parts of the system. Also, if the components, be it hardware or software, are modular with good abstractions and encapsulation, then they will be more reusable and thereby help reduce development costs in future space systems.

The downside of having multiple independent organizations, with varying levels of trust, provide components for a space system is that the system’s security provisions have to ensure that each component behaves according to policy or system design.

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 interrelate 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.

Big Space vehicles have had long development cycles, low-risk postures, and require high information assurance; this typically results in high cost, difficulty with untrusted parts and software sourcing, and lag behind other industries [1–3]. Developers often DE velop one-off solutions while leveraging past successes, particularly with respect to achieving reliability and power efficiency [1].

There will likely always be a place for these types of systems, but there are a growing number of applications where this approach is no longer the gold standard, e.g. low earth orbit (LEO) applications, applications with short lifecycles, swarms, constellations, and high-risk applications. The space industry is realizing this new standard under the banner of Small Space.

The idea of using modularity and reuse to reduce cost in space system development is not a new concept; it has been tried before. Modularity has been explored in many aspects of space system design going back to the 1970s [4]. However, the various attempts do not seem to advance much past their originator or impact external development efforts.

This could be due to the protected nature of space systems, especially when developed by government agencies, or it could be due to a failure to adopt development practices and tools that could facilitate this transition. Is it possible that the technology was not available yet to truly realize the reuse and modularity needed? Can Small Space ideals be coupled with reuse, modularity, and security to push and sustain this next evolutionary step in space system development?

To explore these and other questions and to fully understand the development problem as well as the best path forward for the space systems industry, this research designed and conducted a series of five surveys, referred to as SISDPA, to assess current attitudes and state of practice among space system developers. Chapter 3 describes the five SISDPA surveys and Appendix A shows the actual survey instruments.

To enable space systems development to be more modular, reusable, and secure, it is first necessary to better understand the current software development practices and perceptions among space system developers. Open networks are well-understood solutions for integrating systems of systems, as evidenced by the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet at large. An open network can enable high degrees of reuse, flexibility, and extensibility because it lends itself to good abstraction, modularity, and encapsulation [5].

However, it’s openness can lead to additional challenges when it comes to security. The results of the SISDPA surveys support these assessments of the benefits and barriers for open network adoption in space systems development. See Chapter 4. Understanding the barriers, in. particular, can help the industry eventually overcome these barriers and catch up with the methodology advancements already being widely used in other fields.

More specifically, Chapters 3 and 4 crystallize a need in space system development— modular reusable open networks can help Small Space realize its potential, but they still need to address certain security threats. This is the second problem this Dissertation addresses and is simply referred to here as the Security Problem. It encompasses challenges that relate to the secure integration of components from different vendors and organizations.

To address the Security Problem, this research augments a modular reusable open-network software development framework, called SSM. SSM is set of software services that allow components to communicate over heterogeneous networks without knowledge of the network protocols or addressing schemes [6, 7].

This research adds policy enforcement to SSM in the form of authentication, access control, and encryption provisions, to create a new framework, SSSM. Its design adds security provisions while aiming to minimize the impact on developers using the framework. See Chapter 5.

Chapter 6 evaluates SSSM in terms of developer and system resource burden because an increase in developer burden affects how easy a component is to use and therefore reuse and an increase in system resource burden reduces the set of applications where a component can be applied when criteria like size, weight, and power (SWaP) are driving factors.

The evaluation shows that SSSM does not significantly increase developer burden. In other words, SSSM preserves the ease-of-use of SSM. Chapter 6 also shows that both SSM and SSSM have upper bounds on their network throughput that are tied to CPU and memory limitations and not the actual network. SSSM tops out before SSM and generally uses slightly more resources under nominal operation.

The net result is a decrease in reusability from a system resource perspective. Therefore, an extremely resource-limited system that might be able to to use SSM might not be able to use SSSM. Chapter 6 identifies some ways around this problem by tweaking how a developer uses the API.

Finally, Chapter 7 summarizes the contributions of this dissertation relative to both the Development and Security Problems. It argues that the SISDPA surveys provide an in-depth understanding of the attributes and current practices in space systems development and that this has led to a better understanding of the benefits and barriers associated with using open networks in space systems.

It also concludes that SSSM effectively addresses both problems. From a development perspective, SSSM provides an easy-to-use framework that allows developers to create space systems with better abstraction, modularity, and encapsulation. From a security perspective, it addresses the security concerns that were barriers to the adoption of open networks, even when there are multiple vendors involved.

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Additional information

Type

Thesis/Dissertation topic

Category

Physical Sciences and Mathematics

No of Chapters

5

Reference

Yes

Format

PDF

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