European Space Agency

Software Terminal development Environment and Lead Application (STELA)


A high percentage of UT developments suffer significant schedule and cost overuns as a result of early porting of new software onto immature target platform hardware.
Our solution centres on developing a generic, PC-based Host Development Environment (HDE) for wireless UTs which standardises at the Board Support Package (BSP) level, providing an optimal balance between the benefits of standardisation whilst preserving room for continued innovation and product differentiation. Development of this environment and the associated development methodology, producing a so-called development framework, is combined with the prototyping of a lead UT application in the satellite communications field, serving to focus and validate the model. This gives rise to the project name of Software Terminal development Environment and Lead Application (STELA).
The UT development path offered by the STELA approach is illustrated in the following diagram.
As can be seen from this figure, the Reference Design resides on the HDE and porting takes place from the HDE to each Target Platform, rather than attempting difficult and inefficient target to target porting.


In developing each new wireless UT, a significant percentage of effort is spent solving the same set of real-time embedded development and test problems as peer and forerunning projects, leading to duplication within each manufacturer and across the industry as a whole. Tight bundling between the application software development environment and the target hardware further limits the potential for portability and reuse between contemporary products and subsequent generations. Combined with the low productivity associated with traditional debugging techniques, the overall effect is a significant reduction in development efficiency across the industry. In addition, unanticipated effort and surprises arising during integration and test late in the project are major causes of project schedule and cost over-runs.


By improving portability, reuse and development productivity, the ultimate benefits of the work will be to facilitate more rapid and cost-effective development of new wireless UTs in the future, and secure improved efficiency levels for the industry as a whole.


STELA defines a Portability Framework, Toolset and Test Framework around the application as shown.

click for larger image


Phase 1 undertook a Technical and Commercial Feasibility study, together with an initial requirements and architectural definition.
Phase 2a built on this activity to successfully develop a Proof of Concept version of the technology.
Phase 2b is now underway and will progress the project to full prototypes of both the Development Environment and the Lead Application.
Phase 3 will then commercialise both products and is scheduled to start Q1 2015.

Current status

Phase 2b, Full Prototype has now formally completed. Phase 3, Commercialisation is schedule to start Q1 2016.

Status date

Thursday, December 17, 2015 - 11:26