For decades, military/space grade electrical, electronic, and electromechanical (EEE) parts have proved to be suitable for use in military and space applications.
The traditional MIL-SPEC [U.S. defense standard/military specification] methodology is based on risk avoidance by testing the finished parts. Yet, global developments, like declining availability and budget constraints, have triggered the need to find an alternative solution.
The alternative solution was officialised in 1994 by U.S. Secretary of Defence William Perry’s directive imposing the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts in military applications, exempting space applications. After decades of successful use of COTS in military applications, the above change has been proved viable.
Many challenging space application requirements can be met only using COTS. The time comes (better sooner than later) for the policymakers to reach a consensus on applying the COTS philosophy to space applications. This policy change is critical for the space industry.
The main barrier to implementing a new methodology for using COTS in space applications is Resistance to Change. Overcoming barriers and debunking well rooted myths, instead of resisting a change, are the way to a proper practical solution to meet present and future requirements.
The present space official policies are still penalising the use of COTS, referring to them as “last resort”.
The market share of the military/space grade components has decreased to less than 0.3% (in $), questioning the components availability. The only thing certain about the availability security of the military/space EEE components is uncertainty.
Albert Einstein wrote: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”