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The Core Avionics and Software Technologies (CAST) group develops flight software for small spacecraft missions. For example, the team developed flight software for the LADEE mission, which orbited the Moon before crashing on it to study the contents of the plume of the crash. CAST developed software by following a model-based development process, starting from requirements, then proceeding to design models (generally in Simulink), and then auto-coding (when possible) into cFS/cFE (core Flight Software) applications. The development process follow the Agile methodology.with short coding sprints. In terms of software quality and assurance, CAST is a proponent of testing early and often, meaning that we have developed capabilities to test artifacts as early as design models, and we use a suite of automated software engineering tools such as software version management, continuous integration, bug tracking, and various documentation tools.


  • BioSentinel is a low-cost CubeSat spacecraft on a space biology mission that will use budding yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair over long time beyond low-Earth orbit.
  • The Starling series of demonstration missions will test technologies required to achieve affordable, distributed spacecraft ("swarm") missions that: are scalable to at least 100 spacecraft for applications that include synchronized multipoint measurements; involve closely coordinated ensembles of two or more spacecraft operating as a single unit for interferometric, synthetic aperture, or similar sensor architectures; or use autonomous or semi-autonomous operation of multiple spacecraft functioning as a unit to achieve science or other mission objectives with low-cost small spacecraft. Starling1 will focus on developing technologies that enable scalability and deep space application.

Updated 7 October 2021

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