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Spacecraft computers: state-of-the-art survey

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1 Author(s)
Theis, D.J. ; The Aerospace Corporation

Putting computers into spacecraft systems offers many potential advantages - which are about to increase dramatically. Most satellite equipment - antennas, solar cells, and so on represent relatively stable technologies. Onboard computing, however, is in a dynamic stage. This article surveys the state of the art. The first part covers space-qualified general-purpose (GP) flight computers. These are used mostly in US Air Force satellite systems for housekeeping functions such as attitude and velocity control, thermal management, and management of power and other resources. The survey includes newer GP flight computers that are being developed or are ready for qualification. The first section of the article concludes with a brief discussion of RAM use in spacecraft computers. The second section covers payload processing computers. The third and final section surveys related technology in spacecraft computers, including the impact of VHSIC on spacecraft computer systems and mass storage units. This impact will be critical in the future development of on-board capabilities.

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 4 )