Emergent Space Technologies, Inc. (Emergent) was recently awarded 2019 Small Technology Transfer Research (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts by NASA, continuing our long legacy of partnering with the agency to develop innovative software technologies for spaceflight missions. The STTR project is called the Rules-Oriented Blockchain Operations Transactor (ROBOT). Blockchain technology’s most successful application is in cryptocurrency; however, Emergent plans to innovate and expand its application into the space domain. “The greatest strength of the blockchain is how the technology utilizes a distributed network of computers to validate and then process transactions securely. It is the goal of ROBOT to reimagine this network as a spacecraft cluster wherein the transactions consist of all the messaging between spacecraft and mission control”, said Juan San Emeterio, Emergent’s Principal Investigator for ROBOT. Emergent is partnering with the NASA Ames Research Center and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Institute for Cyber Security, leveraging their internationally recognized Blockchain experts to develop a secure, efficient system architecture and design.
The SBIR project is called the Processor Redundancy Enabled Software Event Recovery with Voting (PRESERV). Emergent plans to use the core Flight System (cFS) architecture and message bus to develop a voting framework and couple it with a flight computer architecture that leverages redundant, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) ARM systems-on-a-chip (SOCs) or RISC-V processors. The innovation lies in “leveraging redundancy to provide the advances of modern processor architectures and their computational capabilities and efficiency to space missions at low cost”, said Austin Probe, Emergent’s Principal Investigator for PRESERV. The software will also fill a niche for DoD space missions and for robots/unmanned aerial systems in combat environment for which there are requirements for significant computing resources on a robust platform at a significantly lower cost than other radiation tolerant options.