Traditionally, engineers faced with the task of designing a new, complex system or structure - a car, an aircraft or a satellite - work sequentially, one step at a time, passing the design from engineer to engineer. This is inefficient and consumes time and resources.
For more than a decade, many of ESA's sophisticated spacecraft have been designed with the help of the CDF, making use of very advanced iterative techniques - hence its title 'concurrent'.
Concurrent engineering puts all related engineers, with all their brain power and required tools together with the final user representative - or customer - in the same location at the same time. This allows for iterative design at a fast pace, with customer and designers agreeing requirements and taking decisions in real time to ensure the best design for the right cost and an acceptable risk.
This process has been developed and honed so it is now common to produce a risk assessed conceptual space mission design complete with various options and including scheduling, testing and operations in a matter of weeks.
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