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Exploration Capabilities

Avionics and Software Project (A&S)

Completed 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 and software 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
  • Infuse resultant technologies, standards, and architectures into new and existing human spaceflight programs

Key Project Drivers:

  • Increased Affordability through Technology Transparency and Reuse
    • Advance open technologies and standards
    • Enable competition and diversity in avionics hardware solutions
      • The underlying hardware should not have any impact on an application either during development or execution
    • Develop reusable software and tools with broad program applicability 
  • Reliability and Maintenance
    • Operate in the presence of failures so that Maintenance Free Operating Periods (MFOPS) can be achieved
    • Provide capabilities that enable autonomous operations 
    • Minimize unique sparing
  • 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:

  • Partner with Orion to develop and deliver a Core Flight Software (cFS) based Backup Flight Software (BFS) system for the Artemis missions. BFS is a dissimilar flight software system on Orion that mitigates against a common-cause primary computer failure to reduce the probability of Loss of Crew. This partnership advances cFS capabilities and tools that are broadly applicable spaceflight and delivers modular, re-usable spacecraft algorithms for GN&C and systems control.
  • Enable early integrated avionics and software validation and testing activities between Artemis mission elements (Orion, Gateway, HLS, etc.) and Orion Display & Control hardware software integration and human in the loop testing by enhancing and improving SOCRRATES (Software Only CEV Risk Reduction Analysis and Test Engineering Simulation) interfaces.
  • Provide stewardship, development, and maintenance of the open Core Flight Software and Tabella Web Based Graphical User Interface product lines.
  • Complete Interoperability testing and finalize the Comm and Wireless Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) Proximity Wireless Network Technology Blue Book.
  • Leverage years of hands on expertise in fault-tolerant triplex-voting, Distributed Integrated Modular Avionics (DIMA), NASA's Core Flight Software (CFS), and Time-Triggered Ethernet (TTE) to enable Artemis success.
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