AdaCore and Altran Toolsets Help Launch CubeSat into Orbit

NASA-sponsored satellite from Vermont Technical College uses GNAT Pro and SPARK

NEW YORK, PARIS, and BATH (UK), November 19, 2013 – Today, AdaCore and Altran announced a new space application for the GNAT Pro technology and SPARK language toolset, with the successful launch of Vermont Technical College’s Lunar CubeSat. The tiny satellite, measuring only 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm and weighing 1.1 kg, was launched into a 500 km earth orbit, where it will remain for about three years to test the systems that will be used for the eventual lunar mission. The CubeSat project is part of NASA’s ELaNa IV program (Educational Launch of Nano-satellites).

The CubeSat’s navigation and control software was developed in SPARK/Ada using AdaCore’s GNAT Programming Studio (GPS) IDE and GNAT Pro compiler and exploiting Altran’s SPARK toolset to prove the absence of run-time errors. The software was developed at Vermont Technical College by a team of undergraduate students under the direction of Dr. Peter Chapin. Although they had no previous knowledge of SPARK or Ada, the students came up to speed quickly and were able to take advantage of SPARK’s various annotations to produce robust code.

“We specifically chose to write the control program for our CubeSat in SPARK because it offers increased reliability over the C language software used in almost all CubeSats to date,” said Prof. Carl Brandon, the project leader from Vermont Technical College. “The success of the fairly complicated software on this ELaNa CubeSat gives us confidence in using SPARK 2014 for the much more complicated and expensive lunar mission.”

“We are delighted to see our technologies once again being launched into space,” said Robert Dewar, AdaCore President. “You only get one shot for this kind of application, so it is critical to produce safe and totally reliable software. In this case, it is very encouraging to see students without prior experience using SPARK and GNAT Pro together to achieve this goal.”

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About AdaCore

Founded in 1994, AdaCore is the leading provider of commercial software solutions for Ada, a state-of-the-art programming language designed for large, long-lived applications where safety, security, and reliability are critical. AdaCore's flagship product is the open source GNAT Pro development environment, which comes with expert on-line support and is available on more platforms than any other Ada technology. AdaCore has an extensive world-wide customer base; see for further information.

Ada and GNAT Pro see a growing usage in high-integrity and safety-certified applications, including space-based systems, commercial aircraft avionics, military systems, air traffic management/control, railroad systems, and medical devices, and in security-sensitive domains, such as financial services. The SPARK Pro toolset, available from AdaCore, is especially useful in such contexts.

AdaCore has North American headquarters in New York and European headquarters in Paris.

About Altran
As global leader in innovation and high-tech engineering consulting, Altran accompanies its clients in the creation and development of their new products and services. Altran's Innovation Makers* have been providing services for thirty years to key players in the Aerospace, Automotive, Energy, Railways, Finance, Healthcare and Telecoms sectors. Covering every stage of project development from strategic planning to manufacturing, Altran’s offers capitalise on the Group’s technological know-how in four key areas: Lifecycle Experience, Mechanical Engineering, Intelligent Systems and Information Systems.

Altran now has a staff of 20,000 employees in more than 20 countries.

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