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Space Mission

Flexible System Architecture for Aerospace expanded

Flexible system architectures similar to the Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) concept can be transferred from avionics to space. This is one of the essential findings from the OBC-SA research project, which after successful development of demonstrators is looking to start its third phase. The core of the system architecture is SYSGO’s PikeOS hypervisor, which enables complex mission-critical space travel applications on modern multi-core processors thanks to secure partitioning.

Up until now, classic satellite control computers have used simple operating systems that do not recognize processes and separated address spaces, meaning that individual software errors can lead to the whole system failing. The system architecture of avionics on the other hand, Integrated Modular Avionics, is based on flexible hypervisors that separate individual applications from one another through partitioning. “The PikeOS Hypervisor has already been implemented in many IMA projects out of aerospace,” explains Dr. H.-J. Herpel from Airbus Defence & Space. “Thanks to its safety, security and modularity, we can transfer the technology of the avionics industry over to space travel and develop highly-powerful, safe and secure applications at low costs.”

PikeOS in Action

The demonstrator of the on-board computer system architecture is based on Freescale’s eight-core QorIQ P4080 processor, on the SPARC Leon platform and on a dual-core Intel x86 Atom processor, all of which serve as node computers. Within the OBC-SA project, PikeOS was adapted to all computers, and supplementary drivers were developed for the necessary communications components. PikeOS is the basis for all application software to be developed in the future (including a variety of criticalities) and forms standardized interfaces to the hardware. The new system architecture for space travel also benefits from the fact that PikeOS has been certified according to the safety standards of various industries, in particular according to avionics DO-178B.

The Board Support Package and the driver for the Freescale QorIQ P4080 processor were also used in the Interdisciplinary Cabin Architecture research project (INDICAR), where PikeOS is being used for cabin management for the next generation.

About OBC-SA

The aim of the OBC-SA undertaking is the development of a highly-powerful, scalable and highly-reliable on-board computer architecture for satellites. This includes the hardware platform, the bus system and the operating system including all drivers for I/O interfaces and the middleware for real-time communication between on-board computers and the connected sensors and actuators. The new system architecture for space ships should fulfill future developments in terms of computing power, data throughput, availability and reliability, at the same time reducing costs. Airbus Germany, SpaceTech, Fraunhofer FOKUS, TTTech and SYSGO are involved in OBC-SA. The research project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology.

About PikeOS

PikeOS is a hypervisor intended for use in embedded systems with safety and security requirements. With real-time execution, virtualization and separation, it provides all the features needed to build today’s multi-functional and high-integrated devices. The PikeOS architecture creates a foundation for critical systems allowing official approval by the authorities in reference to safety and security standards. PikeOS is the only European software platform for smart devices in the Internet-of-Things. 

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