ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are using the International Space Station for testing technology. It’s a joint effort between Sandia, the National Nuclear Security Administration, NASA, and a commercial space company called NanoRacks.
According to a Sandia press release, the laboratory’s first demonstration happened in August when ISS astronauts used the Canadian robotic arm to install a Sandia payload that will test high-performance computing technology on the NanoRacks External Platform. The payload, named LEONIDAS, will work in orbit for about 10 weeks and then return to Sandia to be evaluated.
The release says the payload will feature an Advanced Micro Devices Versal, a commercial computer chip with advanced processing capabilities, will be on the payload. “Because of their critical missions, national security satellites always need to work as expected,” James Meub, manager and one of the project’s engineering leads, said. “Typically, this means we use components that we trust because they have already performed well in space or have undergone a lengthy screening and testing process that simulates the space environment. Instead of focusing on perfecting the system on the ground and in the lab, the team will get performance data and experience integrating the technology with payload designs faster than before.”
Meub says the data they receive from the ISS payloads will help to improve the next system’s design and allow the team to respond better to national security threats.