Questions tagged [software]

Questions regarding computer programs used in space exploration.

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148
votes
2answers
243k views

What computer and software is used by the Falcon 9?

I don't know if this would be public, but what CPU / Microcontrollers are used and what software do they run on the Falcon 9? Do they use an OS or is it just bare metal programming? I found some ...
108
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13answers
53k views

What are the choices today for orbital mechanics simulation software?

I used to be familiar with the various choices out there for orbital mechanics simulation software. Alas, those days are gone. What are the choices today, preferably sorted by platform? This ...
104
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6answers
22k views

What makes Ada the language of choice for the ISS's safety-critical systems?

We have it on good authority that Ada is widely used for "safety critical software" on at least the US side of the International Space Station. Of all the possible languages to choose from, what are ...
39
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6answers
15k views

Given small computational resources, how was navigation implemented? (Not samples of old guidance software)

Update 2 : The youtube vidoe How did NASA Steer the Saturn V answers this question and then some, a must watch. Update: I really wanted to know how spacecraft navigation (not guidance) computers ...
37
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2answers
14k views

What language is software running on the ISS written in?

What is the coding language used for the software used on the ISS? Is it NASA's own coding language, or is it something like C, or C#, maybe Haskell?
37
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2answers
2k views

Is the software running on any existing or decommissioned space probes available for download?

I was wondering if it was possible to download the software that runs any of the computers on existing or decommissioned space probes, landers, etc. For example, could one download the software that ...
36
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4answers
6k views

Why wasn't the Mars Climate Orbiter's fatal error caught prior to launch?

The Mars Climate Orbiter failed in 1999 due to: ground-based computer software which produced output in non-SI units of pound (force)-seconds (lbf·s) instead of the SI units of newton-seconds (N·s) ...
28
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5answers
8k views

What operating system(s) were used in the space shuttle?

Is there any possibility to learn and use the operating system languages used in the space shuttle?
24
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2answers
5k views

What was the nature of the known bugs in the Space Shuttle software?

It's been claimed or suggested in other posts that during the entire history of the Space Shuttle, only one software bug actually survived the development and review process, making it to flight. ...
22
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1answer
3k views

How often, if ever, was “software” updated in the shuttle orbiter?

It dawned on me that the tragic STS-107 disaster of (my favorite shuttle) Columbia was after more than 20 years of service. Computers in 1981 were of course significantly inferior to what I had in my ...
22
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2answers
8k views

How did NASA remotely fix the code on the Mars Pathfinder?

In 1997, NASA remotely fixed a bug that caused priority inversion on their Mars Pathfinder. How did they go about doing this? What kind of communication protocols are used? How do they update the ...
21
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2answers
4k views

Does anybody work on a “spacecraft linux”?

There are quite many industrial Linux adaptions around, like in your router's firmware or the Android OS. On long term, probably any spacecraft will need to run more or less standard profiles of ...
20
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1answer
6k views

Operating system of New Horizons spacecraft

I've been doing some searching and I can find some technical details about the flight computer of the New Horizons spacecraft. What I've found is: It has a Mongoose-V 32-bit CPU (a radiation hardened ...
18
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1answer
4k views

What software language was used to program the martian rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity?

What software language was used to program the martian rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity? Also, how many engineers were involved in writing the software for the rovers?
17
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3answers
6k views

Does the Voyager team use a wrapper (Fortran(77?) to Python) to transmit current commands?

I assume that the vast majority of the people who created the software for these missions are now retired (the "space pensioners" of the Voyager mission). Here's a very good summary of the current ...
15
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2answers
813 views

How does one build software for a Satellite such that a new build doesn't break it?

Sometimes, despite all ground testing, a new build of software can break a satellite. How does one put in protections to keep this failure from being a permanent failure? For example, what do you do ...
15
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2answers
2k views

What software can be used to determine deep-space trajectories?

In What are the choices today for orbital mechanics simulation software?, an entire range of software was listed for many platforms. I'd like to narrow this down a bit. Specifically, two questions: ...
14
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3answers
2k views

Open source space exploration software projects accepting contributions

Sorry if this has been asked a lot, I couldn't find anything by searching the site. I'm a software engineer looking for an open-source space exploration project to contribute to in my spare time. No ...
14
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1answer
2k views

Online Porkchop Plotter

Is there an online tool available to calculate porkchop plots at arbitrary resolutions? Real world only please -- I am aware of the tools available to do this for, say, KSP.
13
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2answers
3k views

Transitioning into space software engineering

I have been a Web Developer in London since I graduated in 2012. My skills reside mainly in the Microsoft stack (MSSQL, .NET, C#, MVC and all the front-end stuff). I have always been very interested ...
13
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5answers
2k views

Satellite tracking software

I am looking for some software that will help me figure out what different satellites are as I spot them gliding across the sky. I have tried using Stellarium, but I think the satellite package has ...
13
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2answers
1k views

Is it possible to “map” the Interplanetary Transport Network?

Cartographers have always been valued members of any exploration team. Even the teenage George Washington had experience with the "compass and chain." Every Terra Incognito is in need of a good map. ...
13
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1answer
225 views

Does Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter require “reprogramming” when handling communications for newer spacecraft or landers?

While I was going through the question What happens to Insight's parachute? I learned of the role of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to provide reliable communication between other Mars spacecraft and/...
12
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3answers
1k views

How is the software for scientific space missions developed?

The flight control software for the Space Shuttle was developed to the most rigorous standards that exist today. They went to enormous lengths to prevent bugs from ever threatening the mission and/or ...
12
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2answers
1k views

What does the software quality process for NASA's SLS look like?

What does the software quality process for NASA's SLS look like? What are the relevant standards that they have to comply to? Do they have to show that they are CMMI compliant, for example? I'm ...
12
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4answers
2k views

Successful Linux-based Cubesat missions?

Has anyone had any experience with successful Linux-based flight computer on Cubesat missions? What Linux hardware was used and what problems did you encounter? I am contracted to write flight/ground ...
11
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2answers
1k views

What is “Safe Mode”?

I've heard of many satellites talk about a "Safe Mode". What is safe mode, and what are some common methods to entering safe mode?
11
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2answers
715 views

Is flight software shared among different spacecraft?

With the possible exception of, for instance, a fleet of GEO communications satellites, most spacecraft are going to have very unique requirements. I would imagine it's difficult to use the same ...
10
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4answers
8k views

What is the most popular programming language in space?

For the purposes of clarification - will include machine code generated by a programming language on earth. - 'in space' includes anything in orbit and deep space transit. - special mentions of ...
10
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1answer
562 views

Besides retarded gravitation, anything else to worry about when calculating MU69's orbit from scratch?

For fun I'd like to use Hubble Astrometric data for example the observations listed at the bottom here to numerically estimate the orbit of 2014 MU69 as well as its uncertainties. My plan is to use ...
10
votes
1answer
357 views

Are any software updates scheduled for Juno?

So Juno approaches seeking her gravity assist. During the course of the maneuver several on-board systems shall be powered up - in all probability they are nominal, having already been checked-out ...
10
votes
1answer
689 views

Ephemeris data usage in interplanetary trajectory application

I'm trying to write a Mathematica application that allows users to choose their date of departure and time-of-flight for an interplanetary transfer mission (currently only working for Earth-Mars ...
10
votes
1answer
972 views

Software to simulate / optimize ascent trajectory

I read the previous question on this site about astrodynamics software and I have tried STK (free version) and GMAT, but I could not find software to simulate and optimize a launch trajectory. Is ...
10
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1answer
1k views

Is there any compiler available for HAL/S?

The HAL/S programming language is used in the general purpose computers in the space shuttle. I have written a simple HAL/S program of my own. Is there any compiler available to turn it into ...
9
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2answers
535 views

Can safe mode on a spacecraft be bypassed?

A sort of followup to Are any software updates scheduled for Juno? For the purpose of illustration, seeing that Juno has most recently encountered such an issue, I mention Juno here. However the ...
9
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2answers
4k views

What software is often used to plan, launch, and track orbits?

Various questions have been asked on this StackExchange about free versions of software that can do various things, such as simulations or tracking. Many of the answers point to free software ...
9
votes
1answer
993 views

Are any tools available for realtime visual tracking of live launches?

Being a fan of http://www.spaceflightnow.com and it's launch schedule page, I thought it would be great if it were possible for "launch enthusiast" to track live launch trajectories using Google Earth,...
9
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0answers
128 views

What programs did David Scott add to the Apollo computer for Apollo 15?

David Scott was the commander for Apollo 15. He was also a main point of contact between MIT, who developed the Apollo flight computer, and the astronauts who were going to use that computer. ...
8
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3answers
336 views

Has in-flight software changes ever involved a change of programming language?

Computer software is arguably the only component of an unmanned spacecraft that can be changed once the mission is already underway. Many spacecraft are now designed to accept new programs through ...
8
votes
1answer
863 views

What computer programs does ITAR say I can or can not write, or share, or use in the US?

After reading this answer by someone knowledgeable in the field, I realized that I still don't understand even a little bit what International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (and its cousins) does ...
8
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2answers
525 views

How has NASA's mission operations software architecture evolved?

As many of us know, the mission operations software of NASA has changed significantly over time. Needs have changed with the space program and mission operations software has adapted to keep up with ...
8
votes
1answer
609 views

Are software updates to satellites or in general space craft commonplace during scientific missions?

History provides enough examples of failed missions due to software failure. If the mission system is still physically intact (ISS best example but very close to Earth making the examole maybe less ...
8
votes
1answer
568 views

Visualization of non-Keplerian orbits for solar sails

I'm seeking a software which helps in the visualization of solar sail trajectories. If I'm not mistaken, the European Space Agency uses Celestia to render trajectories for the general public. I know ...
7
votes
1answer
724 views

What caused New Horizon's so-called “40-year glitch”?

The Discover Magazine article How New Horizons Survived the 40-Year-Glitch and Made it to Pluto is a little confusing. It wraps NASA history together with several different space missions to get the "...
7
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1answer
490 views

Have any probes / spacecraft used GPU hardware? If so, what for?

I was reading this question about CPU's used in space and that got me thinking about the practical applications of GPUs for space-bound vessels. I'm wondering if we ever sent a radiation-hardened GPU ...
7
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1answer
250 views

Info on NASA's NOS3 software and the rest of the suite used by STF-1

THE STF-1 cubesat project, in cooperation with NASA, has developed a whole suite of simulation software for small satellites. Info here: http://stf1.com/simulation.php And here: https://www.nasa....
6
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2answers
6k views

Which are the chances of a programmer without engineering-related degrees to work in space industry?

If someone is a programmer, but without any kind of knowledge or know-how about engineering and would want to work in space industry, what would be his chances to find a job anywhere? (NASA or other ...
6
votes
1answer
230 views

What is a “flight string”?

This answer explains what software powers the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The flight software is written in C/C++ and runs in the x86 environment. For each calculation/decision, the "flight string&...
6
votes
1answer
275 views

What language is the Russian segment ISS software written in?

I have heard that the ISS uses a Russian coding language for some of the systems and subsystems on the Russian segment of the ISS. What is that coding language?
6
votes
1answer
182 views

Taking custom software or hardware to the ISS

Before departing to the ISS, astronauts are allowed to pack some personal objects to be taken with them (see other question about packing). What if an astronaut had some self-written software (for ...