The initial goals of the Space Shuttle Program required that the
avionics and software systems blaze new trails in advancing avionics system technology. Many of the requirements placed on avionics and software were accomplished for the first time on this program. Examples include comprehensive digital fly-by-wire technology, use of a digital databus for flight critical functions, fail operational/fail safe requirements, complex automated redundancy management, and the use of a high-order software language for flight software development. In order to meet the operational and safety goals of the program, the Space Shuttle software had to be extremely high quality, reliable, robust, reconfigurable and maintainable. To achieve this, the software development team evolved a software process focused on continuous process improvement and defect elimination that consistently produced highly predictable and top quality results, providing software managers the confidence needed to sign each Certificate of Flight Readiness (COFR). This process, which has been appraised at Capability Maturity Model (CMM)/Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 5, has resulted in one of the lowest software defect rates in the industry. This paper will present an overview of the evolution of the Primary Avionics Software System (PASS) project and processes over thirty years, an argument for strong statistical control of software processes with examples, an overview of the success story for identifying and driving out errors before flight, a case study of the few significant software issues and how they were either identified before flight or slipped through the process onto a flight vehicle, and identification of the valuable lessons learned over the life of the project.