HPE Delivers Supercomputing Services for Astronauts

HPE Delivers Supercomputing Services for Astronauts

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Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced it is opening high-performance computing capabilities to astronauts on the International Space Station as part of its continued experiments on the Spaceborne Computer project. Spaceborne Computer is the first commercial off-the-shelf supercomputer that HPE and NASA launched into space for a one-year experiment to test resiliency and performance.

After completing its one-year mission proving it can withstand harsh conditions of space, such as zero gravity, unscheduled power outages, and unpredictable levels of radiation, Spaceborne Computer will now, for the first time ever, open its supercomputing capabilities for use aboard the ISS. These “above-the-cloud” services will allow space explorers and experimenters to run analyses directly in space instead of transmitting data to and from Earth for insight.

“Our mission is to bring innovative technologies to fuel the next frontier, whether on Earth or in space, and make breakthrough discoveries we have never imagined before,” said Eng Lim Goh, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President, HPC and AI, HPE. “After gaining significant insights from our first successful experiment with Spaceborne Computer, we are continuing to test its potential by opening up above-the-cloud HPC capabilities to ISS researchers.”

Due to limited computing capabilities in space, many of the calculations that are necessary to complete research projects started in space are still processed on Earth. This approach is feasible for running research on the moon or in low earth orbits between 400 and 1,000 miles above the Earth's surface, where communication can be in near real-time with Earth.

However, larger communication latencies of up to 20 minutes both to and from Earth can occur when data is captured farther into space and closer to Mars. This reality makes any on-ground space exploration challenging and potentially dangerous if astronauts are faced with mission-critical scenarios that they are unable to solve themselves.

HPE is addressing these challenges by bringing HPC capabilities to space explorers with the Spaceborne Computer. Spaceborne Computer is based on the HPE Apollo 40, a purpose-built HPC platform. The system continues to stay intact in space without requiring additional hardware. Instead, it uses a software-hardening approach that is integrated with its HPC nodes, proving we can bring similar, affordable and compact systems to space in the future.

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