SpaceX Launches HPE’s Spaceborne Computer Into Space Today

August 14, 2017 - 2 minutes read

These days it is starting to feel like things are getting a little ugly down here on Earth, so let us turn our attention to space for a moment. Just about every iOS app developer dreams of becoming an astronaut one day, of flying to Mars and establishing some sort of utopian colony there. While most of us may have abandoned the dream, NASA and private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX are still keeping it alive. One of the major obstacles for a potential Mars trip is that the onboard computer systems will have to be able to operate far away from Earth. Fortunately, NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are launching an experiment that will put a commercial off-the-shelf computer system in space. By testing the capabilities of such a system, we will be moving one step closer to a trip to Mars.

At 12:31 ET today, SpaceX is sending one of its Falcon 9 rockets to the International Space Station. Among its cargo is Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Spaceborne Computer, a supercomputer designed to survive and operate in the rough conditions of space. As iOS app developers may remember from their childhood space travel obsession, space is full of radiation outside of Earth’s protective atmosphere. Your standard computer can’t take the radioactive conditions of outer space. So most computers that have been sent to space have been protected from the radiation by heavy (and costly) shielding.

Instead of bulky hardware, HPE’s Spaceborne Computer uses software solutions to manage the radiation. Although the computer’s hardware does have a water-cooled enclosure as one line of defense against solar flares, micrometeoroids, and electrical storms, its operating system will regulate itself with real time throttling. The Spaceborne Computer will cool itself off according to the adverse conditions in spacecraft’s environment, slowing operating speeds to conserve power and maintain proper functioning. Seattle iOS app developers are excited to see whether or not Hewlett Packard’s supercomputer survives its year in the ISS. If it does, we may be one step closer to realizing our collective Mars dreams.

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