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BAE Systems Computer Powers NASA Missions to the Moon and Mars


MANASSAS, Virginia — A BAE Systems computer is at the core of a strategic NASA mission for space exploration. The company’s RAD750® microprocessor powers NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite as the spacecraft surveys the moon’s environment.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is the first mission in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration initiative, a plan to return to the moon, Mars, and beyond. The orbiter will gather information on the lunar environment to prepare astronauts for long-duration lunar stays. The spacecraft will spend a year in orbit just 31 miles above the moon’s surface while its instruments survey the environment and look for safe landing sites and potential resources.

"The RAD750 is the most advanced microprocessor offered to the space community,” said Vic Scuderi, manager of satellite electronics for BAE Systems in Manassas, Virginia. “This version incorporates our RAD750 processor and BAE Systems’ new SpaceWire high-speed interface. In addition to surviving the rigors of lunar exploration and mapping, SpaceWire offers scientists the ability to format and download massive amounts of data to support the missions.”

The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, aims to confirm the presence of water or ice on the moon’s south pole — a discovery crucial to the future of human activities there. LCROSS will do this by excavating the dark floor of one of the moon’s polar craters to see if ice lies underneath.

BAE Systems has a 20-year history of providing radiation-hardened solutions for international space programs including commercial, Department of Defense, and science missions. Its RAD6000® computers are installed on each of the Mars rovers, which have been on the red planet since 2003. The 500th BAE Systems computer recently entered space with the launch of the NASA Kepler mission, which uses the RAD750 processor for satellite control and data processing. Kepler is NASA’s first mission to seek habitable planets in the Milky Way.


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