The good news: The aerospace market is alive, active, and growing in number and strength. The bad news: The mil/aero market seeks new, cutting-edge solutions (from individual components to comprehensive systems) that are not only well designed, but thoroughly tested and verified. (And if this geek had his say, they would be designed, tested, and verified using trusted, high-end, industry-proven software tools.)
Now, when government and commercial aerospace officials use terms and phrases such as “new”, “cutting edge”, and “bleeding edge” in their quest for aerospace solutions, what this geek and mil/aero veteran really hears is “unproven and untested”.
This geek loves innovation. Loves it. Can’t get enough of it, in fact. Show this geek a new widget and he will want to acquire it, put it to work, push it to its limit, and take it apart to see how it ticks (putting it back together is optional). Launching it into space, however, is a whole different thing entirely.
Space is among the harshest of environments. Systems, single elements, and structures are subjected to extreme temperatures (heat and cold), shock and vibration, and radiation. Further, the technology onboard often needs to withstand decade upon decade in space, subjected to harsh environmental conditions and extremes while continuing to work reliably throughout its operational lifetime. After all, on-location maintenance is both difficult and expensive (although this geek would happily volunteer to work in space).
Aerospace solutions—from electric wiring harnesses to thermal management systems to radiation-hardened electronics—should be extensively tested and verified. Cutting-edge software tools enable engineers to ensure that even the most novel, bleeding-edge designs not only meet all specifications and requirements, but also fulfill their intended purposes.