Press Release

Northrop Grumman NPOESS Program Marks Key Milestone; Testing Completed On High-Performance Spacecraft Single Board Computer Engineering Models

By SpaceRef Editor
October 21, 2008
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Qualification testing of single board computer (SBC) engineering models for one of the most powerful computing systems ever flown in space has been completed by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC – News) with subcontractor, Maxwell Technologies. Operating at hundreds of million instructions per second (MIPS), the Maxwell SBCs will handle the intense spacecraft control and data-processing requirements of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS).

The qualification level tests simulated the dynamic and thermal environments encountered during launch and operation in space. Additionally, eight engineering models of the SBCs have been delivered and are being integrated into the NPOESS spacecraft data system in preparation for system-level test and verification activities. This testing will validate that the hardware and software operate together to reliably control spacecraft operations and assimilate data for NPOESS weather products.

“NPOESS will deliver nearly eight terabytes of weather and environmental data every day,” said David Vandervoet, vice president of Civil Systems for Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector. “The Maxwell Technologies single board computers will facilitate on-board processing of complex data, in encrypted and compressed forms, at speeds that are orders of magnitude greater than existing space-qualified computers.”

Flight unit production will start in 2009, following completion of a Critical Design and Manufacturing Readiness review in Dec. 2008. The first flight units will be delivered in 2010. Six SBCs will be employed on each NPOESS satellite.

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for NPOESS, leading an industry team under a government contract to a U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and NASA tri-agency group headed by the NPOESS Integrated Program Office.

NPOESS will provide military and civilian users with timely, high-fidelity regional and global meteorological data on the Earth’s oceans, land surfaces, atmosphere as well as the space environment. The system consists of satellites, a ground-control system and a data-processing/dissemination network that will make environmental data gathered by available to users in less than 30 minutes from the observation time.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

SpaceRef staff editor.