Published on November 16, 2023, 11:13 pm

When it comes to space travel, ensuring a safe round trip is of utmost importance. Lockheed Martin understands this, which is why they have utilized the power of Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to create a secure private cloud environment for the Orion spacecraft’s flight software.

For those not familiar with space exploration, Orion is NASA’s next-generation spacecraft designed to take humans further into space than ever before, going as far as 40,000 miles beyond the moon. In fact, NASA’s Artemis I Mission successfully completed an unmanned test flight around the moon and back for three weeks last year. Next year, Artemis II will mark NASA’s first mission with a crew aboard the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for a 10-day trip mission. If all goes well, Artemis III will see astronauts land on the moon for the first time in over 50 years.

The success of Artemis I can largely be attributed to the extensive preparation and testing of the Orion spacecraft’s flight software. Lockheed Martin meticulously ran simulations to ensure optimal performance under various conditions. These simulations were made possible by integrating OpenStack and RHEL, which provided a secure private cloud environment essential for testing and analyzing the flight software.

The same software stack used for Artemis I will continue to be used for upcoming missions like Artemis II and beyond. By utilizing OpenStack, Lockheed Martin’s developers were able to efficiently host simulation builds and test environments while running multiple versions of the flight software simultaneously. This increased hardware utilization and reduced operational demands, saving both time and accelerating innovation.

RHEL played a vital role in providing stability, security, and performance throughout the simulation process from launch to landing. The combined stack allowed for a comprehensive 28-day simulation covering various scenarios well ahead of Artemis I’s launch date. This preparation was crucial in ensuring NASA’s successful lunar mission.

Looking forward, all eyes are on Artemis II, scheduled for launch in late 2024. With the lives of four astronauts at stake, the collaboration between Lockheed Martin, NASA, and Red Hat will be instrumental in guaranteeing the mission’s success, following the seamless execution of Artemis I.

The teams involved are fully dedicated to preparing for a safe and successful flight, ushering in a new era of lunar exploration. The use of open-source software and Linux has played a significant role in paving the way to the moon.

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