On-Board Software


On-Board software is the software that is running in the actual aircraft, spacecraft or satellite that is in operation. In essence it runs as isolated and independent software that controls everything on the platform/ship, from propulsion to sensors to a specialized payload to the power system. Typically in most cases since the software runs a vehicle of some kind, it is capable of receiving long distance commands via some type of transmitter, and carry out commands, either pre-programmed procedures or real-time operations. Development such as this can be fully customized (designed from base requirements with no pre-existing code) or be constructed together using COTS systems (developed in a particular framework using standard libraries). 

Flight SW

Spacecraft On-board Computer

Space qualified & mission critical on-board flight software for satellites and launchers
High-performance data post-processing software
Early adopter of new technology trends, such as Time and Space Partitioning (TSP), Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) and multi-core architectures
Sophisticated Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE)
Long-term reliable partnership with space agencies, i.e. NASA and ESA
Trusted supplier to major international space industry corporations

Below are some specific examples where esc has implemented on-board software:

Instrument Flight Software

STIX Instrument SW
As a part of the Solar Orbiter the STIX instrument Flight Software is being currently fully developed by esc. Applying all the relevant modern Space Standards (ECSS) this software will control the end-to-end mission functionality for this instrument.  Working closely with our partners, we are developing both Start/Boot-Up software and Application/Run-time software for this State-Of-The-Art instrument. For more details on this instrument see our reference page.

esc Aerospace participated in this mission by providing SW:

StartUp SW – (stored in PROM)
Application SW – (stored in EEPROM)
Engineering support during project phases B, C/D, E


on board software logo

For an ACC Instrument on the Earth’s Magnetic field and environment Explorer. The ESA mission SWARM will provide the best ever survey of the geomagnetic field and its temporal evolution, in order to gain new insights into the Earth System by improving our understanding of the Earth’s interior and physical climate.

esc Aerospace participated in this mission by providing SW:

StartUp SW – Mission critical SW (stored in PROM)
Application – SW (stored in EEPROM)
Engineering support during project phases B, C/D, E


See the esc On-Board Software in detail ON-BOARD_SOFTWARE_RPAS_AVIONICS.  



 Research & Development in the area:


Requirements and I/F definition for future OBCP building block. Future modular reusable/reference on-board SW architecture, the on-board control procedures engine (GSTP).

Spacecraft on-board autonomy is becoming more and more important, in particular for deep space missions with long propagation delays and low telemetry bandwidths. One method by which the Spacecraft is able to maintain this autonomy is through the use of On-Board Control Procedures. This GSTP activity makes an assessment of the ECSS-E-ST-70-01C standard, a review the existing OBCP technologies and determines requirements for its future implementation as a building block prototype. As a part of the activity, a prototype OBCP Building Block implementation is produced.


Study on the future modular reusable/reference for on-board software architecture with a goal to reuse the On-Board software in a systematic manner. This GSTP study is following activities COrDeT and Domeng.