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Evolution of the Space Shuttle Primary Avionics Software and Avionics for Shuttle Derived Launch VehiclesAs a result of recommendation from the Augustine Panel, the direction for Human Space Flight has been altered from the original plan referred to as Constellation. NASA s Human Exploration Framework Team (HEFT) proposes the use of a Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (SDLV) and an Orion derived spacecraft (salvaged from Constellation) to support a new flexible direction for space exploration. The SDLV must be developed within an environment of a constrained budget and a preferred fast development schedule. Thus, it has been proposed to utilize existing assets from the Shuttle Program to speed development at a lower cost. These existing assets should not only include structures such as external tanks or solid rockets, but also the Flight Software which has traditionally been a "long pole" in new development efforts. The avionics and software for the Space Shuttle was primarily developed in the 70 s and considered state of the art for that time. As one may argue that the existing avionics and flight software may be too outdated to support the new SDLV effort, this is a fallacy if they can be evolved over time into a "modern avionics" platform. The technology may be outdated, but the avionics concepts and flight software algorithms are not. The reuse of existing avionics and software also allows for the reuse of development, verification, and operations facilities. The keyword is evolve in that these assets can support the fast development of such a vehicle, but then be gradually evolved over time towards more modern platforms as budget and schedule permits. The "gold" of the flight software is the "control loop" algorithms of the vehicle. This is the Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) software algorithms. This software is typically the most expensive to develop, test, and verify. Thus, the approach is to preserve the GNC flight software, while first evolving the supporting software (such as Command and Data Handling, Caution and Warning, Telemetry, etc.). This can be accomplished by gradually removing the "support software" from the legacy flight software leaving only the GNC algorithms. The "support software" could be re-developed for modern platforms, while leaving the GNC algorithms to execute on technology compatible with the legacy system. It is also possible to package the GNC algorithms into an emulated version of the original computer (via Field Programmable Gate Arrays or FPGAs), thus becoming a "GNC on a Chip" solution where it could live forever to be embedded in modern avionics platforms.
Document ID
20110007936
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Ferguson, Roscoe C. (United Space Alliance United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2011
Subject Category
Spacecraft Instrumentation and Astrionics
Report/Patent Number
JSC-CN-23023
Meeting Information
SAE 2011 Aerotech Congress and Exhibition(Toulouse)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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