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Advanced Exploration Systems Division

Avionics and Software Project

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Project Importance:

  • Avionics and Software (A&S) are the foundation that enables the command, control, communications, and computing (C4) capabilities needed to operate a spacecraft and subsystems

Project Goal:

  • Define, implement and exercise an avionics architecture that is open-source, highly reliable with fault tolerance, and utilizes standard capabilities and interfaces, which are scalable and customizable to support future exploration missions, including Gateway

Key Project Drivers:

  • Technology Transparency
    • The underlying hardware should not have any impact on an application either during development or execution
    • Code reuse and portability
  • Reliability and Maintenance
    • Operate in the presence of failures so that Maintenance Free Operating Periods (MFOPS) can be achieved
    • Provide autonomous operations 
    • Minimal number of unique spares
  • Incremental Update & Certification - Designed for Growth and Change
    • Applications can be inserted/altered with minimum impact on other systems and on the supporting safety case
    • Flexible scheduling to meet the deadlines of all the applications for each viable configuration and when system is upgraded

Project Focus Areas and Objectives:

  • Command & Data Handling (C&DH) - Define a reliable, high-performance & modular C&DH architecture and build HW catalog
  • Software - Provide a reusable software architecture and tools suitable for human-rated missions
  • Human Interfaces - Identify, integrate & test human interface technologies that are scalable, sustainable, and evolvable to support future exploration
  • Communication and Wireless Systems - Enable interoperable, wireless & networked communication for inter/intra-vehicle systems
  • Systems Engineering and Integration (SE&I) - Model, build & test flexible and robust integrated vehicle systems

Project Activities:

  • Developed a fault-tolerant triplex-voting architecture, consistent with Distributed Integrated Modular Avionics (DIMA), that leverages NASA’s Core Flight Software (CFS) and Time-Triggered Ethernet (TTE), and implemented the architecture on available COTS hardware in the integrated Power, Avionics and Software (iPAS) facility at JSC
  • Leveraged A&S reference implementation to facilitate integration and testing across other AES projects and systems, including the AES Modular Power System (AMPS), Autonomous Systems and Operations (ASO) technologies, the NASA Platform for Autonomous Systems (NPAS), Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) and Life Support (LS) Systems
  • Initiated development of the Avionics and Software Platform for Exploration Capabilities and Technologies (ASPECT) to provide an implementation of the A&S reference architecture onboard ISS to exercise using ISS telemetry
  • Supporting the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) habitation efforts, via direct partnerships and consulting, in the areas of avionics, software and communications
  • Several core A&S components are baselined in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) International Deep Space Interoperability Standards to guide future exploration development, including Gateway
    • Distributed Integrated Modular Avionics (DIMA) Architecture
    • Time-Triggered Ethernet (TTE) as the network backbone
    • Core Flight Software (CFS) as the software framework
    • Three Gigabit Ethernet planes to enable voting architectures
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