A Spacecraft with Ancient Computers

  • Orion spacecraft configuration

Sometimes older IS better. Even NASA agrees. They put 12-year old computer processors into their next-generation deep-space vehicle, the Orion.

Although the original scheduled launch date was scrubbed, Orion successfully escaped Mother Earth Friday, December 5, 2014. Hailed as the first real attempt in decades to push human space travel to levels yet to be experienced, in order to survive the Van Allen Radiation Belt, NASA will rely on the more rugged, more reliable technology of the equivalent technology of a smartphone.

“When a spacecraft is designed to carry humans into deep space, reliability is more important than using the latest and most powerful computers, said Matt Lemke, NASA’s deputy manager for Orion’s avionics, power and software team.”

Older technology, plus system redundancy…

Orion Service Module

Much like the Curiosity rover currently on Mars, the Orion is more advanced than the Apollo crafts of so many years ago that took astronauts on a voyage to the Moon. But in terms of what we use in our homes, little comparison can be made. For good reason. With asteroid trips planned in the 2020’s and then manned trips to and from Mars in the 2030’s NASA has set its priorities in order.

“Orion is not incredibly high tech, but compared to what else is flying in space, it’s leading edge,” said Lemke. “It’s much more capable than the space station or more capable than what the shuttles were. It’s state-of-the-art compared to that ,but it’s not state-of-the-art compared to what you can get at Best Buy.”

For a full read on the Orion, please refer to Sharon Gaudin’s article, online at Computer World!




News to Share Brief source: Sharon Gaudin for Computer WorldThe Orion spacecraft is no smarter than your phone
Image license By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons: page 1 image; page 2 image