SLS concept  (Source:
This flight software is needed to control the launch vehicle both during flight and preflight tanking operations

Boeing gave NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) a huge boost by delivering the first three flight computer software test beds needed for launch vehicle control.

NASA's SLS is an advanced heavy lift vehicle that was designed to carry the Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle and cargo. It will also be used as a backup for commercial and international partner transportation to the International Space Station (ISS).

Boeing delivered the three flight computer software test beds on April 25, which was ahead of schedule. This flight software is needed to control the launch vehicle both during flight and preflight tanking operations.

There are three processors within each flight computer to analyze data. They then vote on a response before sending it from the computer, and from there, the three flight computers compare the answers to a solution and send commands to the launch vehicle.

"These are the most capable flight computers ever developed for human spaceflight," said Dane Richardson, manager for the Boeing SLS Avionics and Software Team. "They have the highest processing capability available in a flight computer and triple modular redundant processors. The technology is proven from years of satellite applications, and it's reliable enough to take SLS beyond Earth's orbit.

"The triple redundant processors make each computer reliable in the harsh radiation environment. Similarly, the three computers working in concert make the vehicle reliable. The configuration is called the flight computer operating group."

Boeing is playing a critical role in NASA's SLS development. Boeing is designing the two cryogenic stages in order to make rocket development and operations affordable. The two-stage vehicle configuration will offer a lift capability of over 130 metric tons, allowing NASA to delve into deep space exploration.

An initial flight-test configuration, which uses only the first stage with a 70-metric ton lift capacity, will take place in 2017.

Just last month, NASA announced that it was starting its second round of tests for the J-2X engine, which is the next generation liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen rocket engine modeled after the J-2 engine that carried astronauts to the moon during the 1960s and 1970s. The J-2X engine is designed to power deep space missions and will be used for NASA's SLS.

Source: Boeing

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