NASA and HPE team up to launch a supercomputer into space


Hewlett Packard teaming up with NASA plans to launch a supercomputer into space. With the aim of building computing resources that serve an on-board a mission to Mars.


Spaceborne Computer, the new supercomputer launches from the Kennedy Space Center on board the SpaceX CRS-12 rocket. The rocket sends the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft and the supercomputer along with it to the International Space Station (ISS).

The main aim of this experiment is to have the Spaceborne Computer operates smoothly in space for a year. Which is roughly how much time it would take to travel to Mars.

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Given that the current limitations on computing in space, also many calculations needed for space research are performed on Earth. For astronauts on Mars waiting if 40 minutes for communications to reach Earth and back.

Such a long communication lag would make any on-the-ground exploration, challenging and potentially dangerous if astronauts met with any mission critical situations that they’re not able to solve themselves, said, Alain Andreoli, GM of HPE’s data center infrastructure group. The mission to Mars requires sophisticated on-board computing resources that capable extended periods of uptime.

high performance computing

Also, the experiment will spark discoveries of improvement in high performance computing (HPC) on Earth and have a ripple effect in other areas of technology innovation.

The Supercomputer doesn’t include any hardware modifications. It includes the HPE Apollo 40 class system with a high speed interconnect runs in an open-source Linux operating system.

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Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), a high-performance computing system can’t run in space before. Typically, NASA only approves computers for space once they designed to resist variables like radiation, solar flares, micrometeoroids, unstable electrical power and irregular cooling.

However, adding costly and more hardware modifications, HPE hardened the systems with purpose-built software. The software manages real-time throttling of the computer systems to respond radiation events and its external conditions. The system also has a unique water-cooled enclosure for the hardware.

More information: [NASA]