ECSS-E-HB-40A – Software engineering handbook (11 December 2013)


This Handbook provides advice, interpretations, elaborations and software engineering best practices for the implementation of the requirements specified in ECSS-E-ST-40C. The handbook is intended to be applicable to both flight and ground. It has been produced to complement the ECSS-E-ST-40C Standard, in the area where space project experience has reported issues related to the applicability, the interpretation or the feasibility of the Standard. It should be read to clarify the spirit of the Standard, the intention of the authors or the industrial best practices when applying the Standard to a space project.

The Handbook is not a software engineering book addressing the technical description and respective merits of software engineering methods and tools.

ECSS-E-HB-40A covers, in particular, the following:

  • In section 4.1, the description of the context in which the software engineering standard operates, together with the explanation of the importance of following standards to get proper engineering.
  • In section 4.2, elaboration on key concepts that are essential to get compliance with the Standard, such as the roles, the software characteristics, the criticality, the tailoring and the contractual aspects.
  • In section 5, following the table of content of the ECSS-E-ST-40C Standard, discussion on the topics addressed in the Standard, with the view of addressing the issues that have been reported in projects about the interpretation, the application or the feasibility of the requirements. This includes in particular:


1. Requirement engineering and the relationship between system and software
2. Implementation of the requirements of ECSS-E-ST-40 when different life-cycle paradigms are applied (e.g., waterfall, incremental, evolutionary, agile) and at different levels of the Customer-Supplier Network
3. Architecture, design and implementation, including real-time aspects
4. Unit and integration testing considerations, testing coverage
5. Validation and acceptance, including software validation facility and ISVV implementation
6. Verification techniques, requirements and plan
7. Software operation and maintenance considerations.

  • In section 6 and 7, more information about selected topics addressed in section 5 such as (in section 6) use cases, life cycle, model based engineering, testing, automatic code generation, and (in section 7) technical budget and margin, computational model and schedule analysis.
  • In Annex A, as a complement to the ECSS-E-ST-40C Annex A called Document Requirement List [DRL], the documents expected at the Technical Reviews such as SWRR, DDR, TRR and TRB.
  • In Annex B, software engineering techniques appropriate for the implementation of specific ECSS-E-ST-40C clauses and their selection criteria, covering most of the software lifecycle.
  • In Annex C, an example of the Document Requirement Definition of the Software Maintenance Plan.


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