HP Enterprise is looking to give the space computing a massive upgrade with its new supercomputer. Dubbed as the Spaceborne Computer, this supercomputer will be launching on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to add some serious computing power to the International Space Station (ISS).
Using a computer on the ISS isn’t as easy as on Earth. Unlike Earth, where you just need have power and a good internet connection to make your computer work, computers on the ISS need to be connected using satellite network, which isn’t as good as the internet on Earth. Also, computers and laptops used in space have been really slow to reach such powerful data processing abilities. A lot of computers and hardware have now undergone specific retrofitting via a process called “hardening” for extra protection to survive the harsh conditions of space.
“Currently it can take years to harden a computer,” says Mark Fernandez, Americas Technology Officer at HPE and leading payload engineer for the project. “By the time it’s finished its mission, it could be three to five generations old.”
However, HPE’s supercomputer is different. It gives up much of the physical ruggedizing for software, which will theoretically make up for the condition on the ISS. As it’s meant to be used for only a year, no “hardening” will be required.
“This is a general-purpose high-performance computing Linux-based system,” says Fernandez. “All of the top 500 [supercomputers] run similar to this. Scientists will be able to to focus on science and not the networking … the downlink internet from the ISS isn’t that good.”
If the Spaceborne Computer still functions perfectly after one year, it will be a milestone for NASA to send up even more powerful computers. And, in the near future, astronauts traveling to Mars could use the similar type of computers. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the supercomputer will launch on Monday, August 14.