HOUSTON, 20 Jan. 2016. Space applications benefit us here on Earth, warranting greater global investment in space technologies and technology standards, such as Space CompactPCI Serial, says Stephen Cunha, CEO and vice president of sales at MEN Micro Inc. in Philadelphia. As an example, Cunha cites Lockheed Martin’s work on the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) project in Australia that uses satellites to help make trains safer.
“Technology enables someone in remote office to override a conductor if trains are going to collide,” Cunha says.
CompactPCI has a strong legacy in space, which is interesting and is sometimes overlooked, given its roots in telecom, Cunha describes. It can be robust in space and military applications. The Curiosity Mars rover uses CompactPCI. BAE Systems provided the redundant computing, the brains, based on CompactPCI, explains Cunha.
CompactPCI Serial (CPCI-S.0) is an extension of the CompactPCI standard, ratified in 2011, that overcomes the I/O speed limitations of the parallel CompactPCI bus interface. It uses exclusively high-speed serial bus communications and existing Eurocard mechanics, Cunha adds.
The impetus behind the standard and associated VITA working group is a project Airbus Defense & Space is working on for OneWeb to design and build 900 satellites to deliver high-speed, space-based Internet access. Airbus officials formed the Open Modular Avionics Architecture for Space Applications (OMAC-4S) consortium, made up of European aerospace companies, working to replace federated avionics architecture with Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA).
“There’s no repairman in space,” acknowledges Cunha. As a result, engineers want to ensure that systems have redundancy and fault detection, he says.
Why did they choose CompactPCI Serial for space? For a variety of reasons and benefits, Cunha explains. Among them are:
- the simplicity of the architecture enables reduced cost and time to market;
- it’s a highly defined standard for better interoperability;
- it has high pin density;
- support of conduction cooling; and
- the ability to address challenges of space (hard environment, life cycle management).
Anyone is invited to join the working group; it would be good to add U.S. companies, Cunha says. Time is of the essence, given the date of first deployment for the Airbus satellite project is 2018, he concludes. More information is offered online at http://www.vita.com.
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