TRL Definition Hardware Description Software Description Exit Criteria
5. Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment. At this level, the fidelity of the component and/or breadboard being tested has to increase significantly. The basic technological elements must be integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so that the total applications (component-level, subsystem-level, or system-level) can be tested in a “simulated” or somewhat realistic environment. A medium fidelity system/component brassboard is built and operated to demonstrate overall performance in a simulated operational environment with realistic support elements that demonstrates overall performance in critical areas. Performance predictions are made for subsequent development phases. End-to-end software elements implemented and interfaced with existing systems/simulations conforming to target environment. End-to-end software system, tested in relevant environment, meeting predicted performance. Operational environment performance predicted. Prototype implementations developed. Documented test performance demonstrating agreement with analytical predictions. Documented definition of scaling requirements.
6. System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment. A major step in the level of fidelity of the technology demonstration follows the completion of TRL 5. At TRL 6, a representative model or prototype system or system, which would go well beyond ad hoc, “patch-cord,” or discrete component level breadboarding, would be tested in a relevant environment. At this level, if the only relevant environment is the environment of space, then the model or prototype must be demonstrated in space. A high fidelity system/component prototype that adequately addresses all critical scaling issues is built and operated in a relevant environment to demonstrate operations under critical environmental conditions. Prototype implementations of the software demonstrated on full-scale realistic problems. Partially integrate with existing hardware/software systems. Limited documentation available. Engineering feasibility fully demonstrated. Documented test performance demonstrating agreement with analytical predictions.
7. System prototype demonstration in an operational environment. Prototype near or at planned operational system. TRL 7 is a significant step beyond TRL 6, requiring an actual system prototype demonstration in a space environment. The prototype should be near or at the scale of the planned operational system, and the demonstration must take place in space. Examples include testing the prototype in a test bed. A high fidelity engineering unit that adequately addresses all critical scaling issues is built and operated in a relevant environment to demonstrate performance in the actual operational environment and platform (ground, airborne, or space). Prototype software exists having all key functionality available for demonstration and test. Well integrated with operational hardware/software systems demonstrating operational feasibility. Most software bugs removed. Limited documentation available. Documented test performance demonstrating agreement with analytical predictions.


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