2014/01/27 14:00 Ralph LaBarge, “CubeSat — An Agile System Architecture”, Agile Systems and Systems Engineering Working Group

Ralph LaBarge (John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory) with the Agile Systems and SE WG commentary to improve the quality of working paper to be submitted to the July issue of INCOSE Insight

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

INCOSE International Workshop 2014, Torrance, California


Review articles are at:

Joint paper with of Rick Dove with Ralph LaBarge

Rick Dove presenting Ralph LaBarge slides

Cubesat is form factor:

  • e.g. 10 cm squares
  • Small satellite thought to be interesting, as often empty space on a launch vehicle going up, but want to take advantage in a generic way so that others could take advantage of it
  • Excess baggage
  • Standard interfaces to power, onboard launch bay infrastructure, way to be deployed so that launch vehicles can deal with them
  • Many different launch vehicles are outfitted:  initially directed as university research environments, where you get “free” launch

Many different launch vehicles are outfitted:  initially directed as university research environments, where you get “free” launch

  • Since then, used by non-university organizations

What is an agile system architecture?

  • Once you have an architecture, these are principles that you can flesh out, and take advantage of agility
  • Passive infrastructure:  rules and standards of interoperability, e.g. plug and unplug — where constraints are important
  • Active infrastructure

Yes, it’s modular architecture, but there are challenges for agility

  • Lose a piece, and you don’t have a system

Active infrastructure:  recognition that deploying and agile systems and walking away from it, it will never be as agile again, because there’s no one maintaining the system

  • Means infrastructure can evolve, and someone is responsible to ensuring that it can evolve
  • Often in job, the usual response is “no”, you can’t get around the rule
  • However, sometimes the current infrastructure isn’t right
  • Who assembles the system of the moment, when the components are available (as Hillary says, composable) as system assembler
  • In a agile system environment, need to know who is responsible

Responsibility for the nature of the module itself

1. Do we have the modules we need today for today’s situation:

  • New things are in pool, in advance of need: will be available before disaster happens

2. Modular readiness:  may have a lot of interesting modules, but then when someone last returned it, was it rusty so that it can’t be used?

  • A lot of junk in inventory pools

Agile architecture pattern diagram

  • 3 depictions of 3 types of Cubesats, left to right (older to newer)
  • Left side basic cube
  • Centre:  cube x 3
  • Right side:  more recent, has same centre packaging capability, but new capabilities added to infrastructural packaging, so could do antennas

Ralph took a narrow view of agile architecture, so says it’s an agile architecture.

  • In paper, took a larger view of how JPL used the architecture
  • JPL doesn’t use agile term, aware of Scrum, but used “scrum master” as sheriff, to get people out of the software mindset
  • JPL has written about this, Dove and LaBarge says it’s agile-like

Advice to Ralph?

Comment: Used Dove work out of Stevens to flesh out this article.  Useful to see application of architecture, even use in words like “scalable”.  Could consider putting into introduction.  Yes, say it’s an agile architecture, but then say this follows a specific meaning for agile.