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Ball Aerospace Develops Flight Computers for Next-Generation Launch Vehicles
by Staff Writers
Boulder CO (SPX) Jul 26, 2011

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Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. has completed development of prototype launch vehicle flight computers equipped to bring safety and reliability to future human spaceflight systems.

These flight computers were financed by Ball Aerospace and are based on deployed units now being used by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in their simulation laboratories to develop software and test systems for future human-rated launch vehicles.

The computers are a critical part of the electronic command and control flight avionics system and are distinguished in their superior performance and NASA's highest level human safety specification.

"These advanced avionics are directly applicable to future human exploration goals and objectives," said Cary Ludtke, vice president and general manager of Ball's Civil and Operational Space business unit. "We look forward to participating in future opportunities that leverage Ball's technologies."

Fault-tolerant computing is a key ingredient to human-rated launch vehicle architectures. Ball Aerospace's flight computers are human-rated by design, and provide a low-risk path to flight for NASA's Space Launch System or commercial crew launch systems.

The flight computers contain significant advances in throughput performance, I/O interfaces, and fault detection. The design supports on-the-fly recovery of a failed flight computer based on hardware or flexible software voting.

Hardware and software technologies developed by Ball Aerospace for future human spaceflight include: the vision navigation sensor and the high definition docking camera used to support the successful Sensor Test for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation (STORRM) Development for the STS-134 mission; phased array antennas; avionic assemblies; and cryogenic storage.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. supports critical missions of national importance for the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications.

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