NASA's cFS (core Flight System) has been released as open-source.

The Core Flight System (cFS) is a platform and project independent reusable software framework and set of reusable software applications. There are three key aspects to the cFS architecture: a dynamic run-time environment, layered software, and a component based design. It is the combination of these key aspects that makes it suitable for reuse on any number of NASA flight projects and/or embedded software systems at a significant cost savings.

What are its uses? Where is it really used? What advantage does it bring for the developer community? Can it fly a sat /a rocket/a UAV? Where does NASA use it, other than in cubesats?

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "spaceship"? Anything and everything that is launched into space? $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2016 at 0:02
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    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Jul 22, 2016 at 1:18
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    Jul 22, 2016 at 2:10
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    Jul 22, 2016 at 2:13
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    – kim holder
    Jul 22, 2016 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


You are asking multiple questions at once.

Can it fly a sat /a rocket/a UAV?

Yes, sort of.

The Core Flight Executive is a portable, platform independent embedded system framework developed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This framework is used as the basis for the flight software for satellite data systems and instruments, but can be used on other embedded systems.

(highlights by me)
Source: https://sourceforge.net/projects/coreflightexec/

There exist other packages for it, as it is a pluggable framework, that can do different tasks needed for different spacecraft. Remember, its a framework, not a completely ready-to-use package that you simply drop into your spacecraft.

What are its uses? / Where is it really used?

NASA's cFS has been used in a number of missions, starting with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which helped fund initial development (source, pdf). It has also been used in Moon Express, the prototype robotic lander Mighty Eagle, the recently launched Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS), and will be used on the upcoming Solar Probe Plus. For more uses, see https://cfs.gsfc.nasa.gov/Applications.html and the "Featured Missions" sidebar.

What advantage does it bring for the developer community?

For the normal developer community, not much, unless you have spare money to build a spacecraft and buy a launch for it. It might be possible to study the software to learn about design techniques, but this will be of little interest for the normal software developer.

  • $\begingroup$ "For the normal developer community, not much, unless you have spare money to build a spacecraft and buy a launch for it." Couldn't you create a virtual spacecraft program which utilized the different components of the framework for use by a user interface? $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Jul 22, 2016 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you can build a virtual spacecraft. But you would need to build a complete emulator for its hardware, and the software you are running would be your SUT. You'd also need to create your own astrodynmaic simulation. Its definitely possible, but nothing you'd do in your spare time, its simply a bit to much work. Maybe there are some solutions available, but you'd need to patch them together somehow. Not something the average joe will want to do. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Jul 22, 2016 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ But maybe something that a space nerd, like some on this site, might do. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Jul 22, 2016 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but I don't think that qualifies as the "developer community". Its a niché technology at best in the professional world, and even more so for hobbyists. It won't have any widespread impact in the dev community at large, unlike other frameworks like bootstrap, jQuery or else had. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Jul 22, 2016 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ I came accross some work Studsat $\endgroup$
    – Isrorian
    Jul 22, 2016 at 22:58

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