New ISVV Guide for Space in the Works

July 19, 2019

Critical Software is leading the work on an updated Independent Software Verification & Validation handbook for the European Space Agency.

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

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

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

More than a decade later, the latest handbook will reflect new software development technologies and processes now in play, as well as the lessons learned from previous ESA projects. The handbook will also comply with the European Cooperation for Space Standardisation’s (ECSS) formatting guidelines.

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

The first project phase has been concluded in December 2019. It included the collection of ISVV improvement suggestions from stakeholders and the space community and ended up summarized in a technical note called TN1 IVV Collection Improvements Technical Note.

In the current phase all the identified improvement topics are being assessed in detail and individual technical notes are being produced.

Released Technical Notes

  • 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-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-2019-RPT-04073-R-3.8.pdf ([R-3.8] Modern and alternative methods & techniques to perform independent verification and validation)

Soon to be released Technical Notes

  • [R-3.1] Independent verification and validation of reused software
  • [R-3.6] Independent verification and validation of SW developed following an iterative model
  • [R-3.7] Independent verification and validation of agile developed systems
  • [R0.1] Additional/Generic ISVV Improvement Topics

Optional Technical Notes (currently being drafted)

  • [R-1.12] Reassess the ISVV industrial context
  • [R-1.13] Complementarity of ISVV activities
  • [R-1.15] Level 2 description improvements
  • [R-2.3] Traceability between ESA ISVV Handbook and International Standards
  • [R-2.4] Independent verification and validation from other space domains
  • [R-2.5] Independent verification and validation from non-space domains
  • [R-3.3] Independent verification and validation of complex electronics (ASIC/FPGA-based designs)

Upcoming 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 2020 (exact dates TBC): An ISVV workshop involving stakeholders and the space community to discuss the improvement suggestions and consider other suggestions.
  • October 2020 – early 2021: Writing the handbook, including two rounds of public reviews.

The relevant project documentation can be found here:

We will then keep you updated on the project progress and would like to thank you in advance for your contributions.

To keep up to date with the latest developments on the project or to get involved, please contact us at

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

Last updated on 01-10-2020

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