MANASSAS, Va., 30 March 2009.BAE Systems' RAD750 computer is flying aboard NASA's Kepler spacecraft on a NASA mission to find habitable planets in the Milky Way. It is the 500th radiation-hardened single-board computer BAE Systems has built and part of the company's third generation of such devices.
The computer aboard the Kepler Mission controls the NASA spacecraft, managing its directional orientation and other functions such as avionics, processing large volumes of scientific data, and running the software that keeps the satellite in orbit.
"We chose to use the RAD750 computer as the brain for the Kepler spacecraft based on our success with BAE Systems' RAD6000 computer on the Spitzer Space Telescope and on the Deep Impact mission in 2005," says John Troeltzsch, program manager at Ball Aerospace, NASA's prime contractor for the Kepler Mission. "The RAD750's radiation hardness will allow Kepler to survive in the harsh space environment for the long period needed to find planets."
Kepler is NASA's first mission to determine the statistical probability of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of the Milky Way.
BAE Systems has been building radiation-hardened computers since the early 1990s. The latest version, the RAD750, was developed in 2001 through a partnership among BAE Systems, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The program ensures that highly specialized, radiation-hardened components will continue to be available for future generations of U.S. space systems," says Vic Scuderi, space computers manager for BAE Systems in Manassas, Virginia.