Frequently Asked Questions
What is ESCC?
ESCC is European Space Components Coordination. It is a collaborative activity between European parties interested in the coordination of activities related to the production and use of electrical, electronic and electro-mechanical components suitable for use in space. The activity operates under a Charter and associated Founding Act and is open to participation by different interest groups such as public Space Agencies, the European Space Industry, i.e. consumers of components, and European component manufacturers.
Is ESCC a legal entity?
Not as such. All participants have agreed through the Founding Act or by subsequent accession to the ESCC Charter to participate without exchange of funds and on a best effort basis. Participants are responsible for their own actions. Certain aspects of the ESCC system have a legal status and where this is the case the body is the European Space Agency (ESA). For example the custody of the published ESCC specifications is the responsibility of ESA and ESA holds the copyright for the specifications and publishes them under its own copyright and disclaimer.
Why is this website spacecomponents.org and not escc.org?
When the website was first developed the current arrangement for collaborating on space component issues had not been fully completed nor had the name been determined. Spacecomponents.org was selected as a generic name and registered as a temporary domain name to start with. With the completion of the ESCC Charter the name became clear but the corresponding web domain name was already registered for use. Spacecomponents.org therefore remains in use for ESCC.
Why does ESCC have two websites?
ESCC operates escies.org to fulfill one of the undertakings of the ESCC Charter, namely to provide a component information exchange system. ESCIES is seen as a product of the ESCC activities and kept separate to attempt to keep it focused entirely on information pertaining to components which exist and can be procured and utilised in space hardware. The ESCC website is focused on the coordination process itself and supports the ESCC working groups and their activities. It also provides a promotional aspect for the ESCC System. When ESCC activities produce successful results, for example newly qualified components, then the results are added to the body of data published in ESCIES.
The spacecomponents.org website seems to have little actual content, why is this?
This website principally supports the ESCC tasks which comprise an harmonisation task and an executive task. These tasks are carried out by Working Groups and an Executive. Work includes much exchange of information and this is supported by private working areas on the website where each group can operate in a virtual meeting room or e-room. Minutes of meeting, documents for review etc. can all be posted and commented. For some ESCC processes there are specific applications developed and running under the web interface. There are in fact between 30 and 40 active e-rooms and applications running in the private area of the website at any one time. Thus the publicly viewable part of the site is really only the tip of the iceberg. This may be contrasted to ESCIES where the majority of the components data is publicly published.
How do I get a quick understanding of the ESCC System?
This is really not possible, as being a collaboration between a diverse number of interested parties the organisation and operation of the system has considerable detail to be grasped. However, to understand in outline how to use the system practically the information can be found in one Basic specification viz ESCC 20000. This specification addresses practical topics such as qualification and procurement as well as writing and changing specifications and it provides the links to the more detailed documents pertinent to each topic. To understand the overall intent of ESCC and the way the harmonisation and executive tasks are organised the Charter and Founding Act provide a good basis.
Why are the ESCC specifications and the higher level ESCC documents on different websites?
The ESCC System grew out of the earlier ESA/SCC System. The documentation model of ESA/SCC was retained i.e. two levels of documents and three levels of specifications. The ESA/SCC documents (levels 0 and 1) were considered internal documents and never publicly released. This meant all practical information for using the system had to be present in the specifications and notably in the level 2 Basic specifications. With the advent of ESCC it was decided to keep the self standing nature of the specifications but to additionally make the policy and procedural documents available publicly for improved transparency. This means to use the ESCC System for procurement or qualification etc. all necessary information is present in the specifications and there is no need to consult the higher level documents. However, if a user has interest in, for example, how the ESCC working groups deal with a submitted document change request then the appropriate higher level procedure will provide the answer. To further emphasise the separation of the practical application of the specification system from the ESCC policies and procedures the documents and specifications are published respectively on the ESCC website and the ESCIES website.
Can I participate in ESCC activities?
The ESCC System is open to contribution by anyone as an individual. This is in the sense that if you use or otherwise work with the specification system you may freely submit requests to create new specifications or change existing ones. You are free to make use of the published specifications in any bona fide way that helps your space activities. If you are using qualified ESCC components and experience a problem you are also able to initiate a formal non-conformance process and finally there is a complaints and appeals process also open to anyone. Of course the expectation is that such interaction with the System is always undertaken professionally and with a correct motivation.
As regards participating in the ESCC Harmonisation Task, this implies joining one or more of the standing and ad-hoc working groups. As an individual this is not possible. As an European organisation (or company) it is possible to contribute and to appoint members of staff to represent the organisation in one or more of the working groups. A contribution of this nature will in general be welcomed but will have to be agreed with the ESCC preeminent body, the SCSB. This is in part to maintain the appropriate balance, as required by the ESCC Charter, between the different interest groups.
There is one working group which is more freely open to participation which is the specification review group. This is an on-line group which reviews DCRs and new draft specifications in an informal manner as a series (and sometimes in parallel) process with the formal reviews conducted, for example, by the Executive and the PSWG. If you are actively using the specification system and are willing to assist with improving the technical content and availability of useful specifications, then you may apply to the ESCC Executive Secretariat to participate in this particular working group. Of course you would have to demonstrate appropriate credentials and provide an assurance as to your planned contributions.
How are development activities managed by ESCC?
The ESCC Harmonisation Task includes maintaining strategic plans for the major component areas with a five year prospective. These are considered proprietary to the ESCC membership. As new technologies mature components become identified for planned future repetitive usage and these are added to an annual qualification programme (AQP) which encompasses formal ESCC evaluation and subsequent qualification. For some of the development activities details are publicly published on the ESCC website. When successful results are achieved the reports are also sometimes published in ESCIES. Successful evaluations and qualifications lead to new entries in the ESCC EPPL and QML/QPL. This work is managed by the CTB under the oversight of the SCSB who approve both the issues of the strategic plans and the AQP. The AQP is given to the Executive to implement and successful qualification results are accepted by the ESCC Qualification Authority. This function is performed by ESA which in turn issues the qualification certificates and authorises the publication of the QML and QPL.
Why are there so few development activities described on the ESCC website?
The development activities are harmonised by the ESCC members within the CTB to maximise the use of funds and to prevent duplication of effort. In consequence the activities are managed and funded in a variety of ways and publishing information about them devolves on to the parties most directly involved in the contractual arrangements with each component manufacturer. This unfortunately means that there is no coordinated requirement to publish descriptions of the planned work. The more proactive members do so but overall this is still an area where more should be done.
What exactly is ECI?
ECI is the European Component Initiative. In principle it is a funding initiative by a number of the National Space Agencies and ESA to increase the availability of evaluated and qualified strategic components, of European origin, for critical public space programmes. It originally addressed a decline in other forms of funding for the ESCC annual qualification programme which had resulted in a fairly stagnant list of qualified components (QPL). It has been convenient to list ECI funded activities, adding to the AQP, as a distinct phased activity. Presently (Spring 2011) there are two established phases, one and two, with associated completed programmes and a third phase in prospect.