In the search for an advanced next-generation processor to power the spacecraft computing needs of the future, NASA and the US Air Force Research Laboratory has launched the Air Force Next Generation Processor Analysis Program (AFNGPAP).
The program offers a $2 million contract (with an option for a further $20 million in funding) for between two and four companies to perform a year-long evaluation of advanced space-based applications that would use spaceflight processors in the decade of 2020 to 2030.
The hope is that this research will help yield future spacecraft processors that are powerful enough to perform tasks such as autonomous pinpoint landing with hazard detection and avoidance, real time segmented mirror control on telescopes, onboard real-time analysis of hyperspectral images, autonomous situational analysis, real-time mission planning, and real-time mode-based fault protection for spacecraft.
“Computer processors and applications aboard spacecraft will need to transform dramatically to take advantage of computational leaps in technology and new mission needs,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. “NASA's Space Technology Program is teaming with the Air Force to develop the next generation spaceflight processor requirements and propose solutions to meet future high performance space computing needs in the upcoming decades.”