How a model-based system engineering approach to design is changing engineering

Model-based system engineering is increasingly being adopted to streamline the exchange of engineering information between the different stakeholders involved in the engineering lifecycle. The European Space Agency (ESA) has started the development of a Common Information Platform (CIP), to be released in 2018, that will streamline the exchange of engineering information throughout the whole mission lifecycle.

When dealing with the design of complex systems of systems, there are many different stakeholders involved, from project managers and system engineers to the product suppliers and the final customer. Also, the exchange of requirements and design between these different actors takes place with different tools and in a variety of forms.

Traditional document-based engineering methodologies quickly fall short of achieving project objectives.  This is time consuming, costly and can lead to loss of information and loss of traceability. On the contrary, Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) focuses on models as the primary means of information exchange between engineers, rather than on document-based information exchange. 

The methodology is currently implemented in some phases of the space mission lifecycle. However, none of the existing tools has approached the whole lifecycle. “The main challenge is to define a process and tools that can continuously support the evolution of information throughout the project lifecycle, while still allowing specialist tools to be used during the different specific phases,” said Sam Gerene, RHEA Group’s Senior System Engineer.

The main challenge is to define a process and tools that can continuously support the evolution of information throughout the project lifecycle, while still allowing specialist tools to be used during the different specific phases
Sam Gerene
RHEA Group’s Senior System Engineer.

The Model bAsed Requirements Verification Lifecycle (MARVL) project aims to address these challenges by developing CIP, a tool using a model-based systems engineering approach for a unified representation of the system in a model that enables a high level of detail. The platform enables teams to better understand design change impacts, communicate design choices and analyze a system design before it is built.

To develop the CIP, RHEA Group is leading a consortium of experienced companies active in MBSE, including ESA, Airbus Defence and Space, Scopeset, and 3DSE Management Consultants. The platform will cover the whole space mission lifecycle, from early design to operations, to ensure that specifications are feasible, complete, coherent, and consistent. 

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