Space Station Computer Systems
Space Shuttle and Space Station Laptop Computers
“Like most busy commuters these days, astronauts need to take their laptop
computers with them on the road – even if they are travelling at 17,500 miles
per hour in a billion dollar space shuttle between Earth and the International
Space Station. Given that NASA often touts itself as being at the cutting edge of
technology you’d expect that they’d lavish nothing but the latest and speediest
laptop computers on their astronauts. Alas, that isn’t the case. But don’t think that these folks aren’t being given the tools they need either.”
Note: This article describes (in detail) the IBM Thinkpad 760XD laptops in use on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station – as well as a short history of laptops in space and the modifications needed to take off the shelf hardware and make it work in space.
“Most of the problems appear to be related to Microsoft’s Windows NT, while Russian-made software seems to be more reliable … Although it’s not easy to say whether the problems are restricted to U.S.-made software and hardware alone, the only praise Shepherd expresses is toward a couple of Russian-made software applications.”
Portable Onboard Computers,
All Expedition Flights, International Space Station
Command and Data Group, JSC-48529, Mission Operations Directorate
Operations Division, 15 December 2000 [Acrobat]
This 135 page document details the procedures for setting up laptop computers aboard ISS including network schematics covering both US and Russian segments. Included are detailed 3D drawings of where computers can be located within the Service Module.
Shuttle/Payload Interface Definition Document
for the Payload and General Support
Computer (PGSC), NSTS 21000-IDD-760XD,
Space Shuttle Vehicle Engineering Office
July 1999 [Acrobat]; IDD Update [Acrobat]
“The Payload and General Support Computer (PGSC) is a service used to support Shuttle and
Payload on-orbit operations. The primary functions are command and display of non-critical
payloads and additional crew information services.
The purpose of this document is to:
a. Define and control the interfaces provided by the PGSC and
associated components for use by payloads and crew software, and
b. Define and control constraints observed by payload and crew support
Shuttle/Payload Configuration Management Plan
for the Payload and General Support Computer
(PGSC), JSC 27891,
Space Shuttle Vehicle Engineering Office
October 1997 [Word] [Acrobat]
“The purpose of this document is to define the Payload and General Support Computer
(PGSC) configuration management plan which will provide the governing control and
implementation of laptop computer requirements for the Space Shuttle Program. This
document establishes the responsibilities and activities needed to ensure proper
integration, configuration, maintenance, and control of all proposed changes to the laptop
products for the Shuttle Program.”
“While performing work related to our assessment of the International Space Station (ISS) Program Implementation of Communications Security and Automated Information Security Measures (G-99-010), we became aware of problems involving the Portable Computer System (PCS) and the accuracy of displays developed for the PCS. This report outlines our concerns about the ISS PCS and the process that is used to develop the displays for the PCS. We are bringing these concerns to the attention of ISS management for appropriate action.”
Note: these pages are modified versions of presentations previously online and available for public viewing for several years at NASA JSC’s website. These pages were recently taken offline by NASA.
This pages contains links to a list of the software carried aboard the PGSCs as well as the LAN configration used on orbit during the mission.
Space Station Computer Network References
This document lists the specific computers and associated hardware that will be flown to – and used on – the International Space Station between missions 2A to 7.A.1.
All Expedition Flights, JSC-48529, Mission Operations Directorate, Operations Division, May 1, 2000 [ Acrobat]
This 106 page document describes the installation and activation of the Space Station’s portable computers, LAN (Local Area Network), communications system and peripheral devices such as printers.
This document describes the way in which the Space Station’s portable computers will be linked together via the ISS LAN. Included are lists of hardware, LAN topologies, and a description of the overall functionality of the system.
Interface Control Document, JSC 36381, February 2000, Baseline [Word] [Acrobat]
“The contents of this document are intended to be consistent with the tasks and products to be developed by International Space Station participants. The SSC Operations Local Area Network (OPS LAN) Interface Control Document shall be implemented on new activities and may be implemented on existing projects by an authorized change request. Implementation is performed by the Station Support Computers (SSC) project. This document is under the control of the Station Portable Onboard Computer Control Board (S-POCCB) and any changes shall be approved by the Chairman or delegated authority.”
27 March – 4 April 2000
RSC-E, Moscow Russia
PROTOCOL [Word] [Acrobat]
“The objective of this meeting was to develop a technical proposals for an integrated onboard network architecture based upon the operational requirements called out in the Crew Computer and LAN Integration, Team 5A.5 protocol of TIM 25, March 2000.”
Russian Segment Computer Systems
This one page document contains a schematic which shows how the FGB’s computer systems are connected within the FGB as well as to systems inthe Service Module and Node 1.