Press Release

NASA Engineer Receives AAS William Randolph Lovelace II Award

By SpaceRef Editor
March 21, 2013
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NASA engineer Tom Flatley received the William Randolph Lovelace II award at the 51st Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium held in Greenbelt, Md. The American Astronautical Society (AAS) award was presented to Flatley in recognition of his outstanding contributions to space science and technology through his work with SpaceCube.

SpaceCube is a compact, reconfigurable, hybrid-computing platform that is being used for flight science data processing applications. It was designed for space applications that require extreme processing capability at a much higher level than current radiation-hardened space technology can handle. SpaceCube uses radiation-tolerant processing components and can collect and process 100 times more data than traditional radiation-hardened flight processors. Built-in radiation upset detection and correction techniques mitigate on-orbit errors, enabling the system to perform nearly as reliably as traditional fully hardened systems.

“SpaceCube technology is truly cutting-edge,” said Goddard Chief Technologist Peter Hughes of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Hughes manages the center’s premier research and development program that helped fund advances in the SpaceCube technology. “This processor provides long-needed radiation-tolerant, high-performance computing from a smaller, more energy-efficient platform. These attributes are allowing spacecraft to become increasingly more autonomous and capable, particularly important today because of the massive amounts of data collected by our instruments.”

SpaceCube 1.0a first flew on Hubble Servicing Mission 4 as part of the Relative Navigation Sensor experiment, and SpaceCube 1.0b has been on a Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) sponsored experiment pallet deployed on the International Space Station (ISS) since 2009. SpaceCube 1.5 flew as part of Goddard’s Small Rocket/Spacecraft Technology (SMART) Suborbital Technology Carrier (Subtec-5) sounding rocket mission in June 2011.

As head of the Science Data Processing Branch at Goddard, Flatley and his team are constantly refining this complex technology. SpaceCube 2.0 will fly on the Department of Defense Space Test Program (STP)-H4 mission, a military-sponsored experiment pallet that will be deployed on the International Space Station in July 2013. This next-generation onboard processor can process data 10 to 100 times faster than current processors on spacecraft.

The AAS award was created to honor the lifetime achievements of Lovelace (1907-1965). In 1943, Lovelace was a flight surgeon and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for an experimental parachute descent from more than 40,000 feet. He was appointed chairman of the NASA Special Advisory Committee on Life Science in 1958 and played a key role in the selection of the astronauts chosen for the Mercury program missions. In 1964 he was appointed NASA’s director of space medicine.
Flatley joins other NASA notables that previously received the Lovelace award such as astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to ever walk on the moon in 1969; Neil Gehrels, chief of Goddard’s Astroparticle Physics Laboratory and gamma ray researcher; Noel Hinners, NASA’s associate deputy administrator and chief scientist (1987-89), and Goddard center director (1982-87).

For Tom Flatley’s NASA biography, visit:

For more about SpaceCube and NASA Goddard’s Office of the Chief Technologist, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.