Elon Musk’s Dragon spacecraft made an important trip to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver one of its most high-tech payloads ever – a supercomputer built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
The space agency hopes that Musk’s ships can reach the outer limits before 2020, which would be a major breakthrough in space exploration.
The HPE Tech30, dubbed the “Spacebourne Computer”, will take pride of place on the ISS from September 2017.
According to CNN, the computer will be the most powerful commercial computer to be operational in space.
Cargo missions often make their way to the space station, including several tons of experimental equipment, food, water and other provisions. But, SpaceX has been tasked with one of the most important payloads sent to space since man landed on the moon.
According to reports, there is already a sophisticated computer system aboard the ISS, along with HP laptops, but the new supercomputer is set to revolutionize operations on the space station.
“It’s a much more powerful piece of hardware that can crunch massive amounts of data and send the results to other computers in just moments,” CNNMoney writes.
“The space-bound supercomputer will have the ability to make one trillion calculations in a single second — about 30 to 100 times more powerful than your average desktop computer,” according to Mark Fernandez, the HPE engineer heading up the project.
Meanwhile, Julie Robinson, chief scientist for NASA’s space station program, said if the supercomputer can function in space, in the harsh conditions there, it’s very exciting news for companies on earth. She also pointed out that the private sector is interested in taking high-quality satellite images of earth to track crop growth, oil exploration and other changes which the computer can help with.
“The supercomputer doesn’t look like a desktop computer because it’s actually a server. It will be able to communicate with other computers, much like desktops and laptops on earth communicate with servers owned by companies like Google,” CNNMoney writes.
HPE engineer Mark Fernandez said the supercomputer will be active by the end of September 2017. “If it powers up, that’s going to be my first relief. I will be very excited then,” Fernandez told CNNMoney.
SpaceX Important to NASA
SpaceX is becoming an important partner for NASA. Experts say that they would have to rely on Russian space programs to transport cargo to the ISS if it wasn’t for Musk’s involvement.
As we reported earlier this year, Musk’s company is taking on several projects for NASA, one is sending tourists into space, around the moon and back to earth by the end of next year. NASA astronauts will be onboard the vessel and it’s set to launch before the end of 2019. What makes this mission special is that NASA bigwigs have stated that it is almost impossible to breach Earth’s lower orbit – which obviously doesn’t account for the fact that they went to the moon in the 1960s! The space agency hopes that Musk’s ships can reach the outer limits before 2020, which would be a major breakthrough in space exploration.
According to the New York Times, if Musk can pull this mission off, his company SpaceX will be the first in 40 years to send people that far into space, and the first commercial company to do so ever.