PLM in Space [Visual Explainer]

PLM Adoption in the Space Industry

The space industry has been a catalyst for the development and evolution of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Over several decades, PLM has become a crucial aspect of managing complexity in every stage of a space-related project’s lifecycle.

1950s-60s: The Dawn of PLM

Decades before PLM became formalized, the space race prompted space agencies to establish systems engineering practices that laid the groundwork for PLM. During this era, engineers mostly relied on physical documents and drawings.

1970s-80s: CAD Revolution

The space industry was an early adopter of CAD technology when it emerged in the 1960s. When advanced computers to support CAD software became available, the space industry was well-positioned to integrate the tech with its design and engineering processes.

1990s: The Rise of PLM

The space industry was also an early adopter of PLM as the technology emerged and matured in the 1990s. The uniquely complex needs of the space industry necessitated PLM adoption: Complex product development, integration needs, collaboration across organizations, regulatory compliance, among others.

2000s: PLM Expansion

NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s implementation of PLM systems gained significant steam during this era. The heightened focus on integrating and streamlining space mission lifecycles led to enhanced collaboration, improved risk mitigation, advanced knowledge management, and better scalability

2010s: Simulation and Analysis

Advanced simulation and analysis tools enabled more sophisticated modeling of complex space systems. Space engineers could better predict performance under harsh space conditions. During this era, digital twin technology also gained traction.

Today and Beyond

The space industry continues to be an early adopter of advanced technologies. Today there’s a greater emphasis on sustainability through every stage of the mission lifecycle. Commercial space companies like SpaceX and BLUE ORIGIN have added an emphasis on rapid development and spacecraft reusability.

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