DevOps transformation: Taking edge computing and continuous updates to space

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The last two years have been challenging on many fronts for people and businesses alike. As a global community, we have been unable to travel long distances due to various restrictions, but that doesn’t mean we stop reaching for the stars.

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During this time frame, monumental advances and achievements in space exploration were made – from the successful launch of Inspire 4 SpaceX, which carried four civilian astronauts into space, NASA’s Lucy Mission, launched to study the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter in search of deeper knowledge of the origin of the planets and the formation of our Solar System.

We also saw space exploration led by several private companies, with their successful launch Rocket Labs And virgin orbit, while Space Perspectives has begun raising funds for a balloon-based venture that will take paying customers to the stratosphere.


These advances have amazed young and old alike and given a whole new meaning to the space race. Actor William Shatner, best known for his role as Captain Kirk in ‘Star Trek’, recently made history as the oldest person to fly in space. The 90-year-old was one of four passengers aboard Blue Origin’s second manned spacecraft.

With the “final frontier” now open to private companies, how can we change the way we continually update software that runs in space? The term “digital transformation” is nearly ubiquitous here on Earth, but it is becoming increasingly clear that its concepts will play an important supporting role in the next wave of space exploration.

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Why DevOps in Space?

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One of the great revelations of the new space industry is that it is being eaten alive by software. Software capability to manage and do what communications satellites do starlink Doing – developing low latency Internet systems for consumers – is important.

When you look at everything going on in a “new space” – seeing Earth, traveling in deep space, the Moon, Mars, etc – all these achievements wouldn’t be possible without software. Software is getting smarter, better and easier to update; However, the amount of computation power required to execute software commands in space is increasing rapidly.

Meanwhile, the cost of launching payloads into space is declining rapidly, especially when compared to just five years ago. Currently, there are more than 2,000 working satellites in orbit, but the planned constellation will add more than 40,000 satellites in the coming years. We are going to see an increasing number of companies building more developed infrastructure to keep upgrading their satellites and constellations with more efficient and powerful software.

As we see it in other environments where edge computing is important – automotive, energy/utilities, warehouse and last-mile retail delivery, to name just a few – companies that reliably, securely and continuously update their satellite software , would have a great advantage over them. Competition.

release fast or risk crashing your satellites

One of the biggest technical pain points in space travel is power consumption. On Earth, we’re starting to see more efficient CPUs and memory, but in space, your CPU’s heat is hard enough to dissipate, making power consumption a significant component. From hardware to software, the way you do processing, power consumption requires everything.

On the other hand, in space, there’s one thing you have a lot (obviously) with: space. This means that the size of the physical hardware is not a concern. Weight and power consumption are big issues, as those factors also affect the way microchips and microprocessors are designed.

A great example of this can be found in ramen space Design. The company uses AI- and machine learning-powered processors to build space-resilient supercomputing systems with Earth-like computing capabilities, with hardware components ultimately controlled by the software aboard them. It aims to optimize the way software and hardware are used so that applications can be developed and optimized in real time, just as they would here on Earth.

Under this background, DevOps practices of coding, testing, validation, analysis, and delivery are almost the same as they are on Earth, but the types of hardware, emulation, feedback loops, and reliable testing of software differ greatly.

My personal view is that we need to create a new way of continuous delivery and continuous updating in space. On Earth, many organizations use an orchestrator to handle continuous update processes — the automated configuration, management, and coordination of systems, apps, and services to help IT teams manage complex tasks and workflows efficiently. As of now, there is no equivalent for use with satellites in space, and those that do exist are extremely limited.

For example, an orchestrator is required to send and control satellite updates from the ground, which poses a high amount of risk for concerns such as data security.

Giving today’s space innovators the ability to obtain all the information and data needed to run updates correctly to satellites, as well as to quickly and accurately recover from bad updates to ensure a valid set of binaries on the satellite You need to think about the way. That said, I am optimistic that we are at the beginning of a revolution that will soon make the ability to efficiently deliver binaries to the next generation of satellites a reality.

Boldly Going Where No Man (or Computing System) Has Been Before

When considering the current space race, it’s hard not to think of “Star Trek” and how we as an industry and global community are boldly going where no one has gone before.

We are continuing to adapt and change the environment and the challenges we face on Earth, and this is now extending to outer space. Shatner’s space journey was emotional for the legendary actor; upon his return, They told Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and Amazon, “I’m filled with emotions about what just happened. I’m just, this is extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this.”

That raw human spirit is a product of the innovative technology that made travel possible, as well as the curiosity and playful desire to push boundaries.

Under this new paradigm, space has transformed from an “end frontier” to the next opportunity with almost endless possibilities. In that sense, it’s a unique time to be alive, and I encourage my fellow DevOps peers across all industries to reach for the stars – literally.

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