Time for a Space "Perry Memo"


Bringing the Perry memo into the Space industry

Back in 1994, a famous memo was issued by William Perry, at the time the U.S. Secretary of Defense. This memo became known as the ‘Perry memo’ and it directed the department of defense to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products where possible rather than custom built solutions. This was issued over concerns that using detailed military specifications was limiting competition, stifling innovation and increasing costs and time to deploy new systems.

Looking back over the last 20 years, this move towards COTS is considered to be positive with the defense industry being able to leverage the innovation and quality of the commercial technology industry. In many ways, this change tactics for developing technology can be seen as happening in the Space industry today.

The Space industry today has seen a significant shift towards commercial development of launchers and spacecraft with companies like SpaceX, Boeing and Virgin Galactic taking the lead over government agencies in developing the next generation of space vehicles and introducing viable space tourism. Commercial pressures are stronger than ever and keeping costs to a minimum has led organizations to look towards COTS to keep the costs down.

Curtiss-Wright has long believed in the advantages of COTS, both back in the time of the Perry memo’s release, and for many years in the space industry. We believe it helps reduce costs, development time and risk by using an approach that utilizes an existing library of IP, system design experience and takes advantage of previous qualification work. COTS technologies also allow systems to be optimized for low cost of ownership based on customer application and the procurement life of the platform.

This approach has been fully proven – the same Curtiss-Wright’s COTS space data handling systems has been used successfully in such a wide variety of space missions from test aircraft, to launchers to the international space station and Curtiss-Wright’s standard COTS products are used by leading space organizations through-out the world.

You can learn more by reading an example of a launcher space data handling system application.