Victor R. Basili, Marvin V. Zelkowitz, Lucas Layman, Kathleen Dangle, Madeline Diep
Publication year: 2010

We report on a preliminary case study to examine software safety risk in the early design phase of the NASA Constellation spaceflight program. Our goal is to provide NASA quality assurance managers with information regarding the ongoing state of software safety across the program. We examined 154 hazard reports created during the preliminary design phase of three major flight hardware systems within the Constellation program. Our purpose was two-fold: 1) to quantify the relative importance of software with respect to system safety; and 2) to identify potential risks due to incorrect application of the safety process, deficiencies in the safety process, or the lack of a defined process. One early outcome of this work was to show that there are structural deficiencies in collecting valid safety data that make software safety different from hardware safety. In our conclusions we present some of these deficiencies.