Piecemeal Into Space: Reliability, Safety and Erlang Principles
Spacecraft computer systems are traditionally the domain of specialized programming. Space hardware is constrained in order to be durable in the extremes met in space, leading the computer environment itself to be peculiar. More, the high-cost of launch and critical nature of the launched equipment demands a rigorous safety-conscious approach to space software systems. Two things are relaxing this environment: increased flights of "cubesats" – very small satellites using off-the-shelf computing hardware – and cheaper commercial launches. The opportunity for Erlang to find its way into space grows.
In this talk we will discuss the principles of Erlang that map well onto the domain of spacecraft and satellite control by way of examples with historical control systems written in lower-level languages. We will also discuss the ways that Erlang must change to be more suitable in this domain.
Brian L. Troutwine is a software engineer with a focus on fault tolerance and critical systems. He is an engineer on the Infra team at Postmates. Brian likes things that go boom on failure.