New ISVV Handbook for Space

December 15, 2022

Discover Critical Software's role in compiling a new ISVV handbook which will help shape the future of space software development, providing sound processes for software development, testing, and verification and validation.

ISVV Guide For Space

Critical Software teamed-up with Danish-company Rovsing on an updated Independent Software Verification & Validation (ISVV) handbook for the European Space Agency (ESA).

Update 15-12-2022: New ESA ISVV Handbook published and available for the European Space Industry.

The handbook defines how ISVV activities are performed for software systems involved in ESA’s future space programmes.

The handbook and other relevant project documentation can be downloaded from the ISVV specific ESSR page.


The (old) original version was published in 2006, with Critical Software playing a pivotal role in creating it. It was then updated in 2008 and was used until now by ESA and its prime contractors as the reference for ISVV projects.


More than a decade later, the latest handbook reflects new software development technologies and processes now in play, as well as the lessons learned from previous ESA projects. The handbook also complies with the European Cooperation for Space Standardisation’s (ECSS) formatting guidelines, but it’s inclusion in the ECSS documentation tree will come in later stage.


This activity, entitled ‘Independent Software Verification & Validation for Evolutions in Software Development Methods and Processes’, was funded by ESA’s General Support Technology Programme (GSTP). It brought together a number of stakeholders from the space industry who contributed with their expertise and improvement suggestions.


The project is now over and the ESA ISVV Handbook is ready to be applied in all future ESA ISVV projects.

Released Technical Notes

  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2019-RPT-02935-IVV-Collection-Improvements-TN.pdf
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2019-RPT-03999-R-1.1.pdf ([R-1.1] Verification of Software Requirement Baseline and Concept Documentation)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00372-R-1.2.pdf ([R-1.2] Improvement of the Independent Validation Activity)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00373-R-1.3.pdf ([R-1.3] ISVV Level Re-assessment)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00375-R-1.5.pdf ([R-1.5] ISVV Statement of Work Template)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00376-R-1.6.pdf ([R-1.6] Verification of the Unit Test Specification)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00377-R-1.7.pdf ([R-1.7] Clarification of ISVV Activity Outputs)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00378-R-1.8.pdf ([R-1.8] Revisit Current ISVV Tasks Regarding Their Effectiveness)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00379-R-1.9.pdf ([R-1.9] Lessons Learned Collection Framework)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00380-R-1.10.pdf ([R-1.10] Independent Verification and Validation of Software Dependability and Safety Activities)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00381-R-1.11.pdf ([R-1.11] Continuous ISVV Process)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00384-R-1.14.pdf ([R-1.14] Miscellaneous inputs on ISVV processes)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2019-RPT-03858-R-2.1.pdf ([R-2.1] ECSS-E40C and ECSS-Q80C impact on ISVV processes Technical Note)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2019-RPT-04000-R-2.2.pdf ([R2.2] Align the document structure with the ECSS Handbook documentation format)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00383-R-3.1.pdf([R-3.1] Independent verification and validation of reused software)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00384-R-3.2.pdf ([R-3.2] Independent verification and validation of configuration data)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00385-R-3.4.pdf ([R-3.4] Independent verification and validation of auto generated code Technical Note)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00386-R-3.5.pdf ([R-3.5] Independent verification and validation when using Model Based Techniques Technical Note)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00387-R-3.6.pdf([R-3.6] Independent verification and validation of SW developed following an iterative model)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00278-R-3.7.pdf([R-3.7] Independent verification and validation of agile developed systems)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2019-RPT-04073-R-3.8.pdf ([R-3.8] Modern and alternative methods & techniques to perform independent verification and validation)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00388-R-0.1.pdf([R-0.1] Additional/Generic ISVV Improvement Topics Technical Note)



Optional Technical Notes Released


  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-04865-R-1.12.pdf ([R-1.12] Reassess the ISVV industrial context)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-00388-R-1.13.pd ([R-1.13] Complementarity of ISVV activities)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-06055-R-2.3.pdf ([R-2.3] Traceability between ESA ISVV Handbook and International Standards)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-04869-R-2.4.pdf ([R-2.4] Independent verification and validation from other space domains)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-04870-R-2.5.pdf ([R-2.5] Independent verification and validation from non-space domains)
  • CSWPT-ESAISVV-2020-RPT-04871-R-3.3.pdf ([R-3.3] Independent verification and validation of complex electronics (ASIC/FPGA-based designs))



Relevant key project milestones/main events are as follows:


  • October 2019 – November 2020: Assessing the ISVV improvement suggestions.
  • October 14th, 2020: Presentation of ISSRE 2020 Industry Track paper “Independent Verification and Validation for the Space Industry: Guide Evolution Experience.”
  • October 21st, 2020: Presentation at 14th ESA Workshop on Avionics, Data, Control and Software Systems ~ ADCSS2020.
  • November 17th - November 27th, 2020: ISVV workshops involving stakeholders and the space community to discuss the improvement suggestions and consider other suggestions. Workshops meeting minutes available.
  • October 2020 – April 2021: Drafting of the ESA ISVV Handbook.
  • July 2022 – September 2022: ESA ISVV Handbook Public Reviews.
  • December, 1st, 2022: Project presentation at the TEC-ED & TEC-SW Final Presentation Days.
  • December 2022 – ESA ISVV Handbook public release


Due to the limitations for online distribution of ESA documentation, a simple registration with the ESSR website is needed in order to access the download links.


Further information or support can be requested to the ESA Technical Office for the “ISVV for Evolutions in Software Developments and Processes” GSTP Project (by emailing [email protected]) or [email protected]

Find out more about Critical Software's work in the space industry through the link below.

Last updated on 10-01-2023