Optimising Engineering Design, Development and Verification Processes of Spacecraft Functional Avionics with MBSE Techniques

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Aerospace Engineering


Traditionally spacecraft engineering, design, development and verification involves multiple
domain specific methods and tools and a large amount of documentation. Model-Based
Systems Engineering (MBSE) consists of creating a system model which tracks
requirements and integrates other discipline-specific engineering models and simulations.
MBSE allows concurrent modelling with real-time updates, running of multiple test cases,
automated trade off studies and optimisation of key design parameters.
This application of MBSE will investigate several methodologies to formally describe or
specify systems or subsystems and use the appropriate tools. Several studies on using
MBSE for aspects of spacecraft have already been performed. The PhD student will perform
a synthesis of the state-of the art techniques to argue their potential applicability to the case
studies selected for this study.
The goal of this research will be to develop new MBSE methodologies to improve the
functional avionics engineering, design and verification practices within the Space Systems
Business Line of Airbus Defence and Space, Stevenage. Case studies will be selected from
the functional avionics area and will include aspects of the engineering, design,
development and verification process of the functional avionics disciplines. Finally, the
research will attempt to quantitatively assess the potential benefits of this approach.


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Gregory J (2020) The long and winding road: MBSE adoption for functional avionics of spacecraft in Journal of Systems and Software

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Gregory J (2020) Investigating the Flexibility of the MBSE Approach to the Biomass Mission in IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/P510427/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1834844 Studentship EP/P510427/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2020 Joe Gregory
Description So far, we have :
- developed a methodology to elicit potential areas for the application of model-based approaches within an organisation
- used this method in Airbus Space to highlight key areas where MBSE could help
- produced a SysML-based model template that can used to perform early functional validation of spacecraft against the concept of operations
Note that this work is ongoing and further outcomes will be reported in relevant papers and the thesis.
Exploitation Route The methodologies, processes and model templates can be used within other space systems engineering organisations, and the concepts can be applied to other industries as well
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine