John Muratore describes SpaceX’s approach to their SEU issues.
I find the whole controversy oddly amusing because I don’t see anything new here. Everything SpaceX is doing is stuff I read about in the fault-tolerant systems course I took in grad school, over 20 years ago.
Their SEU issues are nothing compared to the SEIU issues they will have when they start carrying passengers (not spaceflight participants) who want in-flight meals…
SEIU? Sudden Explosive Involuntary Upchuck?
I wonder though if selective use of rad-hardened electronics or modest conductive shielding might help without imposing too much of a cost. Well, they’ll figure it out.
This does remind me of armoring of vehicles and ships during the Second World War. It turns out to be undesirable to fully armor a vehicle, but rather to armor the components that you really don’t want damaged, such as pilots, fuel lines, engines, ammunition storage, etc.
Much of rad-hardening consists of redundancy, both at the gate level and the system level. So all this anti-SpaceX FUD is just that, FUD. There are some interesting technologies, some new, some old, that offer primary protection to radiation. Silicon On Insulator for instance is mostly immune to latchups, which is very nice to have. And memristors-based memory is mostly immune to all kinds of radiation, so that’s nice too.
They want to be able to use late tech. which will only be RadHard once we are manufacturing big time in space.
Well, a trip to Mars would require either rad-hardening or full shielding. Even though redundancy can handle the SEU’s for a GNC system, it probably can’t make video games reliable, and on a flight to Mars most of the CPU usage is going to be Call of Duty or Halo. Respawning is bad enough, but constant rebooting would be maddening.
They could play games that are not quite so time sensitive like a multiplayer online. These take way too much time to play more than one at a time although you could, but it generally is no problem if you can’t connect for a few hours… though only those able to handle the time lag would work. A single game would last them the entire trip and beyond.
Probably none of them written today could handle the time lag, but it wouldn’t be that difficult to design many of them so they would.
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