SEAKR Engineering is a leading supplier of state-of-the-art spacecraft electronics and a pioneer in the development of solid-state data recorders for satellites. SEAKR’s products are on the International Space Station, on satellites orbiting the earth, and on probes that have traveled to Jupiter. They help explore Earth’s atmosphere and relay climate and operational weather data critical to global climate science. They fortify U.S. intelligence and contribute to improving the U.S. battle network by advancing its space-based capabilities.
SEAKR had been using Ada on its data recorders since the late 1980s and they needed to transfer older software baselines to new embedded platforms. First, they needed to port over their Ada code from the previous platform and restructure it, but they also needed a new integrated development environment (IDE), Ada compiler, and toolset to help them do the restructuring with greater efficiency.
To improve their Ada code’s efficiency and reliability, they upgraded their development environment to GNAT Pro, AdaCore’s complete solution for producing space critical software systems where high assurance (reliability, safety, security), efficiency, and long-term maintainability are essential.
Mike Jelks, staff engineer at SEAKR, who has been programming in Ada for over 30 years, understands the benefits of Ada’s strong typing, tasking, protected objects, and object-oriented features. “By using strong typing properly, you can reduce your errors and catch them at compile time rather than later on in the development process,” says Jelks. “Ada discourages or prevents many of the bad programming practices that typically cause problems in C and C++. Common errors that you’d make in a language like C, you’re much less likely to make in Ada.”
SEAKR has been extremely pleased with the performance of the GNAT Pro compiler, toolset and with AdaCore’s customer support services. They are saving money through early detection and correction of errors, thanks to Ada and GNAT Pro. Jamie Ayre, Commercial Director at AdaCore, highlighted, “Ada saves money through early detection and correction of errors that are typical in C and C++. The GNAT Pro compiler detects the vast majority of coding errors during compilation. Others are caught with standard Ada run-time checks, and GNATcheck helps to eliminate additional potential errors by enforcing project-specific Ada coding standards. Combined with AdaCore’s industry-renowned expert support, customers benefit from a complete software development package that allows them to efficiently build critical software platforms.”
Jelks notes that “companies who create critical applications for the space sector, with a low tolerance for risk, would do well to use Ada, even if they’re more familiar with other languages.”
AdaCore has a long history of providing tools and expertise to the Space industry, helping developers build mission critical applications. AdaCore has years of experience working with Space customers and has a deep understanding of the software standards involved and the tools and services needed to ease the workflow and manage costs.