[ExI] Why space tech isn't cutting edge

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 24 18:31:08 UTC 2012

On Monday, November 19, 2012 8:23 PM Stephen Van Sickle <sjv2006 at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 1:29 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>> Giovanni, many questions here, short answer: modern electronics will work to
>> some extent in space.  The problem is that you cannot operate those
>> electronics in such a way that your mission hangs on them working reliably. 
> A very interesting interview covering SpaceX's approach to these issues:
> http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog:04ce340e-4b63-4d23-9695-d49ab661f385&plckPostId=Blog%3A04ce340e-4b63-4d23-9695-d49ab661f385Post%3Aa8b87703-93f9-4cdf-885f-9429605e14df

Thanks for posting that. A pertinent part of the discussion there:

"Q: What's the downside to buying radiation-hardened hardware or software? Is it expensive, or just not widely available?"

"A: It's really not the expense that drives it. We're committed to having the best possible parts in all of our designs. So if it cost a lot and we needed it, we'd go get it. We were already required to have all this redundancy in the computers to meet all the different safety requirements. Then we started looking at what parts do we want to use and what is appropriate for this design. And what really is more important to us than the cost of the parts is the capability of the parts – how much power do they use, how much memory do they hold, how much do they process, and how physically big are they. That's the first thing.

"The second thing is what tools they come with. We run the Linux operating system, we program everything in C++, and that enables us to tap into a huge pool of very talented people and find the absolute best people in the computer and software industry to work with us. If you go into the radiation hardened parts, they are very limited in terms of what languages you can work in, what support packages there are for them, who knows how to program in them. It really limits your ability to work with the parts. And the other thing it really does is they all take a little longer time to get and they're a little harder to come by."



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