Would Use Of Design By Contract Have Prevented The Ariane 5 Disaster

645 words - 3 pages

Would use of design by contract have prevented the Ariane 5 disaster? NoAriane 5 was an unmanned rocket launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) after taking 10 years to develop it with a cost of $7 billion. About 40 seconds after lifting off, the rocket exploded during its first voyage on 4th of June, 1996 and ended in a failure and became one of the disastrous failures though there were no victims.An inquiry board which nominated by the Director General of ESA and the Chairman of CNES investigated the causes of crashing and issued a report. According to the report, reason behind this crash was a software failure.The root cause behind Ariane 5 flight 501's crash was uncaught exception which could not handle during data conversion of 64-bit floating point number to 16-bit integer for the horizontal component of the velocity vector with respect to the platform and an overflow occurred. The crash occurred due to an oversight to handle this particular exception even though they handled other comparable conversions in the same code smoothly.According to Jean-Marc Jézéquel and Bertrand Meyer, no one can blame the language used, design, implementation, testing or reusing the code but specification reuse which could have been lightened through "Design by Contract" to specify interfaces between modules precisely (Meyer, B., Jezequel, J, 1997). But considering the software point of view of the disaster, it is difficult to agree with the decision of reusing the code, where it dated back to 10 years. It was the period when new programming languages were introduced.When the Ariane 4 was launched, the software used had no any problem with system while taking off and after. They could not detect the fault due to the speed of Ariane 4 though the problem existed.Trajectory of Ariane 5 was different from Ariane 4's. Therefore trajectory of Ariane 5 led to make horizontal velocity which is five times higher than Ariane 4. So it asked to check the floating point value of horizontal component of the...

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