European Space Agency Trusts Critical Software with Astronauts’ Accommodation Safety

March 6, 2023

We are the last line of defence against critical situations in the I-HAB module of the Gateway spacecraft.

ESA Trusts Critical Software with Astronauts’ Accommodation Safety
Image source: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab

As part of NASA’s Artemis program, a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) to place a space station orbiting the Moon, part of our UK team is now in charge of performing verification and validation activities for the Gateway space station’s International Habitat (I-Hab) housing module.  

Our contribution guarantees the security of four astronauts who will be spending 90 days in orbit. The programme plans to launch to orbit between 2026-2027.   

Rodrigo Pascoal, Business Development Manager at Critical Software, states, ‘I-Hab is a vote of confidence from ESA to Critical Software, with whom we developed the Independent Software Verification and Validation (ISVV) handbook’.  

Gateway, the space station of which I-Hab is a part of, will be in orbit and will serve as support for the Artemis Base Camp on the Moon, a project that results from a partnership between NASA, ESA, and JAXA. In November 2022, the Orion module was launched, which will be responsible for transporting astronauts, providing emergency support, and assisting the crew during the trip.  

Due to its elliptical orbit, Gateway will be close to the Moon and Earth, particularly facilitating the passage of astronauts and essential materials. It will also serve as a base for future missions since it will be five days away from Earth. In this module, it will be possible to conduct experiments inside and outside space. Outside, the I-Hab will include connection points for the Gateway robotic arm that will enable remote exploration of the Moon's surface.  

Our Work So Far 

We have worked on over 25 missions as a prime or tier 1 supplier in the space sector — covering the full spectrum of embedded software systems, from specifications and design to verification and validation activities. 

We are now participating in several projects dedicated to cleaning up space debris (in collaboration with ClearSpace) and contributing to ESA's Mars Sample Return programme, which aims to return to Earth soil samples from the surface of Mars.  

Find out more about Critical Software's work in the space industry here