We are undoubtedly living in the time of limitless technological innovation. Things that are happening today weren’t even dreamed about a decade ago. One of the final frontiers of our existence is outer space and it has garnered the curiosity of millions of people in every form, fashion, or career. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the team behind your HP computer, is getting in on that curiosity. It was recently announced that Hewlett Packard would be sending a Super Computer up to the International Space Station during a SpaceX supply run for NASA. That last sentence alone should have tech fans geeking out for the rest of the day.
So why is Hewlett Packard spending time, effort, and money in order to send up a computer to outer space? Well, the reason is surprisingly simple. The goal of this endeavor is to give a supercomputer the chance to operate in outer space conditions in order to monitor just how well it performs. Hewlett Packard announced that the supercomputer will be named, simply, ‘Spaceborne Computer’. The computer runs on Linux and it will be situated at the International Space Station for a complete calendar year. We should also point out that it takes a full year for a manned spacecraft to make it to Mars. Is this a coincidence? We think not.
Casual tech fans might not understand the point of this test. Doesn’t the ISS have their own computers already installed and operational? The answer is yes, obviously, the do. However, ISS computers have to be hardened by a special process. The process is involved, expensive, and difficult. If a company like Hewlett Packard can put together their own supercomputer without that extended process and if it works in outer space then there is reason to believe that NASA can save time and money. In fact, if HP is successful they will be responsible for single-handedly upgrading a large portion of the ISS’s computer network. Most computers on the ISS are a few generations out of date.
The goal of this experiment is largely to help Dr. Fernandez, a payload engineer for HPE, collect data and develop the techniques needed in order to improve upon NASAs systems. One key data point that Dr. Fernandez will be monitoring is how the computer hardware adjusts to radiation exposure. Right now the ISS has to communicate with Earth in order to accomplish even basic computing tasks. If Dr. Fernandez is successful then everything could be changing.