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NASA, HPE to Test Edge Computing System to Deliver AI in Space

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NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have announced a collaborative agreement to test edge computing with a new computer designed to deliver artificial intelligence (AI) in space. The new technology will increase space exploration and astronauts’ self-sufficiency by providing real-time data processing with advanced commercial edge computing in space.

“The most important benefit to delivering reliable in-space computing with Spaceborne Computer-2 is making real-time insights a reality. Space explorers can now transform how they conduct research based on readily available data and improve decision-making,” said Dr. Mark Fernandez, HPE’s principal investigator for Spaceborne Computer-2.

Later this month, the Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2) will become the first high-performance commercial computer to operate in space on the International Space Station (ISS). SBC-2 is scheduled to launch into orbit on the 15th Northrop Grumman Resupply Mission to Space Station (NG-15) on Feb. 20, 2021 and will be available for use on the ISS for the next 2-3 years.

“Edge computing provides core capabilities for unique sites that have limited or no connectivity, giving them the power to process and analyze data locally and make critical decisions quickly,” said Shelly Anello, general manager of converged edge systems at HPE.

Once launched and assembled in space, NASA will leverage the system to enable astronauts to use AI and other advanced computing capabilities. SBC-2 will provide NASA with more reliable computing on the ISS, as well as support human space travel to the Moon and Mars. 

SBC-2 was built off a prototype launched into orbit in 2017, the Spaceborne Computer. HPE tested Spaceborne Computer’s affordability and commercial off-the-shelf servers used on earth. Following its predecessor, HPE designed SBC-2 to sustain operations in space, along with software coded for space-based work.

Astronauts will use the computer to process data from the space station, satellites, cameras and other sensors. HPE partnered with Microsoft Azure to provide additional compute resources through its Azure Space cloud capability recently launched to support NASA, Space Force and other partners.

“We are honored to make edge computing in space possible and through our longstanding partnerships with NASA and the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, we are look forward to powering new, exciting research opportunities to make breakthrough discoveries for humanity,” Fernandez added. 

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