Alternative approach to designing and analysing reliability for low-cost telecom missions

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The scope of the study is to propose an alternative to currently used reliability prediction methods in the European Space Industry compliant with ESA PA approach and requirements (ECSS-Q standards) for the design, development and analysis of space systems in general and low cost telecommunication satellites in particular.

The final outcome of this study shall result in a set of recommendations/guidelines for the definition and implementation of an adequate and suitable reliability program for low cost design approaches on telecommunications missions of varying size and complexity.


Establish a method that can be accepted by the wider space industry, including agencies, commercial satellite operators and manufacturers. Determine a method for first calculating the reliability of in-orbit assets and then transpose that figure to future systems under development.

  • To improve the current approach to dependability requirements definition in general and to reliability requirements definition in particular,
  • To improve reliability prediction, both source data and methods, yielding high confidence reliability analysis results which would enable accurate design trade-offs at subsystem, system/satellite, or constellation level,
  • To optimize the reliability program for low cost telecom satellites.

The proposed alternative reliability approach will be holistic and based primarily on real-world data. It recognises the importance of including all sources of failure into the evaluation of system reliability, instead of focussing excessively on random failures of EEE parts.

Indeed, most failures can be traced due to design errors, manufacturing errors, testing errors and operating errors. By basing system reliability on actual flight data and expanding the notion of heritage to design, manufacturing, testing and operation processes, the alternative approach aims to provide a much lower cost and more accurate method of determining the reliability of space systems.


Phase 1 is aimed at reviewing and assessing the current reliability approach applied on ESA space systems and in other domains.

Phase 2 is aimed at identifying improvements to the current Reliability Approach applied on the ESA space systems and at identifying an improved/alternative (innovative) Reliability Approach.

Phase 3 is aimed to highlight how to use the approach of Phase 2 to assess the costs, risks and feasibility of implementing the alternative framework/methodology to a proposed trial project. The trial project will be the SSTL GMP-T Power System, currently being developed under an ARTES 3/4 programme.

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