A document discusses the replication of the functionality of the onboard space-shuttle general-purpose computers (GPCs) in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). The purpose of the replication effort is to enable utilization of proven space-shuttle flight software and software-development facilities to the extent possible during development of software for flight computers for a new generation of launch vehicles derived from the space shuttles. The replication involves specifying the instruction set of the central processing unit and the input/output processor (IOP) of the space-shuttle GPC in a hardware description language (HDL).

The HDL is synthesized to form a “core” processor in an FPGA or, less preferably, in an ASIC. The core processor can be used to create a flight-control card to be inserted into a new avionics computer. The IOP of the GPC as implemented in the core processor could be designed to support data-bus protocols other than that of a multiplexer interface adapter (MIA) used in the space shuttle. Hence, a computer containing the core processor could be tailored to communicate via the space-shuttle GPC bus and/or one or more other buses.

This work was done by Roscoe C. Ferguson of United Space Alliance for Johnson Space Center.


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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