F6MDK: A Model-driven Software Platform for Fractionated Satellites

The goal of the F6MDK project is to develop a software platform for fractionated satellites. This is a challenging task for a number of reasons.

  • The system is distributed over multiple satellites with network addressability, which requires fault-tolerant and security aware communication mechanisms.
  • The system and environment are dynamic: applications can be dynamically deployed and updated, modules may join or leave the flight cluster at unknown times, and the quality of the radio links between nodes can vary with distance and relative orientation.
  • The system allows resource sharing: specific resources (filesystems, memory and on-board hardware) can be shared across applications, but must obey usage quotas and security constraints.
  • The system must be secure: information exchanges must be subject to Mandatory Access Control (MAC) for Multi-Level Security (MLS), as well as Discretionary Access Control (DAC).

To address to these challenges, we  have developed a platform that facilitates all stages of the development cycle. This includes:

  • A distributed computational platform for running mission-specific applications.
  • A fault management framework for detecting and mitigating faults inside the system.
  • A security framework for ensuring only authorized access to security-sensitive resources.
  • A development environment in which application developers can build and test mission-specific applications targeting the F6 platform.
  • An integration framework that allows a system integrator to verify whether the platform can meet the Quality of Service (QoS) requirements of all applications. Example QoS requirements include low network latency and application response time.

The computational platform upon which F6 applications are run uses and extends several open-source projects, including Linux, ACE, TAO, DDS. The platform also uses concepts from the ARINC 653 software standard for the scheduling and  spatiotemporal isolation of software applications.

Please see the following page for a whitepaper: DREMS

Additional academic papers about the project can be found here.

The project is supported by DARPA's System F6 program.

F6MDK_IAP.pdf1.01 MB