Changing the Paradigm for Space Flight Computers


How do you change a paradigm in space flight computers? In 2000, when scientists and engineers working on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer -02 (AMS-02) first began searching for a space rated single board computer capable of processing over 17 Gbits/sec of measured high energy physics particles, they found that the existing space rated computer systems were woefully inadequate to handle large amounts of data. They set off on a course to identify components and processors that could meet the harsh environment of space. While some data existed, many components required additional testing in radiation beams at test facilities across the globe. After several years of testing and identifying the most radiator tolerant components, they developed 650 new electronics boards, including 4 main data computers that have now proven their reliability operating onboard the Space Station continuously since 2011. The paradigm shift was to build a computer system that could perform a large amount of data crunching onboard the spacecraft rather than downlinking the data to the Earth prior to data analysis. This approach had the added advantage of allowing a significant increase in scientific results while not having to upgrade the limited bandwidth downlink capability. Imagine the possibilities for other scientific instruments and engineering technology demonstrations that could perform data manipulation in space prior to downlink. This opens up endless possibilities for high data throughput science instruments like HD video or high resolution imagery.

Business Integra Technology Solutions, in coordination with these same engineers, has developed the SG100 computer that utilizes the technologies developed by AMS and is an upgraded processor. The best part is that we offer the SG100 computer at a considerably lower price than the current space rated computer systems. Next month, we will launch the SG100 Cloud Computer to the ISS, and once we have operated successfully for 2 months, we will have achieved TRL9 in LEO.

Business Integra (BI) has developed the next generation Aerospace single board computer. This new advanced radiation tolerant single board computer is an evolution of the highly successful Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer computers that have been successfully operating externally on the International Space Station since 2011. Because AMS employs four of these processors that have been operating continuously since May 2011, we currently have 20 years of on-orbit operations experience.

We developed an upgraded version of the AMS computer called the SG100, which is designed to reduce the cost of aerospace missions. The design allows for less expensive non-flight versions to be used during early development phases.

This high-reliability, high performance technology also lends itself readily to harsh terrestrial applications. The SG100 design is inherently conductively cooled, and the integrated design can be adapted for either internal or external space applications. The experts at BI have more than 50 years of experience designing, building, certifying and flying specialty aerospace-rated computer systems that operate well with exceptional reliability and beyond the current aerospace rated state-of-the-art systems.