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Data Systems Engineering

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Arrowhead System Engineering specializes in real time data systems, with unique expertise in fault tolerant systems.

Advances in electronics over the past half century have produced major improvements in the power and flexibility of personal computer systems. In general, current avionics systems for space applications typically have not leveraged these COTS advantages. Recently, there has been a trend toward utilization of commercial bus interconnects, primarily VME, cPCI, PCIe, and VPX. Communication lines have migrated to from 1553B to SpaceWire and Ethernet (including AFDX and Time Triggered Ethernet) high speed interconnect. New concepts featuring Flight Computers derived from commercial airline applications and embedded FPGA processing cores have started to migrate into the space environment. Arrowhead System Engineering has been at the leading edge of these implementations.

A decade ago, the state of the art for avionics systems made a step change from the PAVE PILLAR systems of the 1980’s to the Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) used in the Boeing 737, 777, and 787. This next generation avionics architecture is not based upon traditional Byzantine redundancy voting structures, but on a truth based scheme where each element knows when an internal failure occurs and removes itself from the system. Arrowhead has nearly two decades of experience executing trade studies comparing single string systems, classic voting architecture, and next generation truth based systems. Examples of these studies are:

  • Commercial Crew C&DH, GN&C, Display, and Communication System
  • ALTAR Lunar Lander C&DH, GN& C, Display, and Communication System
  • CSSS Spacesuit command, control, monitor, and communication system
  • SLI/CEV data system eventually adopted for the MSCV (Orion).
  • MADS data system to replace the tape recorder on shuttle vehicles
  • Next Generation Reaction Wheel Assembly and Control Moment Gyroscope architecture
  • Spacelab Payload Accommodation data system architecture for Hitchhiker, Enhanced MDM Pallet, and Space Technology