Satellite OBC products on the global market

Roundup

Satellite OBC (on board computer) systems play a number of very important roles in any space system.

In this post we give a brief overview of how satellite OBC systems operate and share listings of OBCs on the global marketplace – if you would like to skip the introductory material and instead get straight to the product listings, please click here.


Introduction

A satellite or spacecraft is made up of many different sub-systems that all need to work together as an integrated system. Avionic architectures have a key role in making this possible, linking together modules and equipment from different manufacturers and with varying functionality so that the entire craft can be managed and operated effectively.

One of the core components of the avionics system is the on board computer (OBC) – the piece of hardware that runs the system’s on-board software, which controls the vital functions the system needs in order to perform effectively.

In this article we took a brief look at the role OBCs play in a satellite or spacecraft and present several products available on the global space marketplace.


What are on board computers?

On modern satellites there are a number of systems that can essentially provide computing power (including payload processors and edge computing hardware for example), the term on board computer typically applies to the computer of the satellite’s avionic sub-system.

The satellite OBC is the unit that runs the satellite’s on-board software i.e. the computer programs that manage the core functions of the system. They are often referred to as the brain of the satellite and selecting this sub-system is one of the most important tasks of any mission designer.

In particular, OBCs perform attitude and orbit control, data packeting activities, manage data storage, handle certain communication tasks, monitor and report on the status of certain subsystems, general housekeeping, implement control law, and actuate aspects of the system’s avionics setup.

Because of the wide range of these tasks, along with the requirement for an OBC to essentially be ‘always on’ (or at least; ‘always accessible’) it is very important that effective scheduling and load balancing is incorporated.

A satellite OBC is typically divided into 3 distinct subsystems

  • The electronics subsystem – which provides protection from the effects of radiation, magnetic forces, and noise interference.
  • The interface subsystem – which collects power supplied by the electrical power system (EPS) and manages communication with other modules on board.
  • The microcontroller – the processing unit, dedicated to Satellite Management (SM). It manages data from other systems (collected via the interface) and gives commands. It also stores measurements, logs, and other system data.

A range of standard and non-standard interface formats are in use in OBCs today (e.g. RS485, CAN, SpaceWire, SPI and I2C) and the OBC itself can be provided as an integrated unit in the satellite bus and avionics system, or as a modular device capable of working with various other pieces of multi-vendor equipment.

On board computers play several roles in the effective operation of a spacecraft or satellite. These functions usually include:

  • Attitude and orbit control,
  • Telemetry data management,
  • Telecommunication actions,
  • System housekeeping,
  • On-board time synchronization, and
  • Failure detection, isolation and recovery.

Selecting the right satellite OBC for your needs

Increasing modularization and standardization of space technology is leading to greater options for suppliers all over the world. In addition, the miniaturization of electronic components are making it possible to develop new hardware concepts for space missions.

With this greater choice available, engineers need to ensure they select the best option for their specific mission requirements from the array of on board computers on the global market.

To assist, we recommend considering the following key performance criteria when making a decision:

Processing capability – the computing unit must be able to handle the processing capacity needed to operate the payload and the sub-systems supporting it (e.g. attitude control, communication, power distribution, etc.).

Memory (storage and RAM) – both the capacity and memory format should be chosen to meet your needs. An OBC typically includes both volatile and non-volatile memories with differing capacities.

Interoperability and interfacing capabilities – as a central controlling unit it is vital that the OBC can work effectively with the required interfaces (e.g. USB, I2C etc.) and has enough capacity and ports for the external sub-systems it will connect to.

Reliability of software – the OBC needs to have reliable software running on it in order to be able handle event sequencing, monitor health and performance of all systems, and handle any problems on orbit.

Power requirements – although OBC power requirements are generally low compared to other sub-systems, it is important to factor in what power is needed to your overall calculations.

Size and weight – the system you choose needs to fit into your current mass and volume budget to avoid more extensive redesigns.

In addition, a modern satellite OBC is also likely to include a variety of additional secondary features and functions which may be important for your mission, such as:

  • Local mass memory
  • Packet telemetry formatting
  • On board time management functionality
  • Ground telecommand decoding capabilities
  • DC/DC power regulation and conversion

Also note that most systems will include duplicate elements for all critical components in order to reduce the risks of single points of failure, and/or to provide additional processing or storage resources if particular applications require. Ensure that you select an OBC with a redundancy architecture that suits your system’s risk profile.

Finally, as with any product, it is important to assess whether your engineers can work effectively with the supplier. An OBC is mission-critical and may require multiple rounds of engagement with the supplier’s technicians in order to integrate and test – so it is important to work with people that you collaborate with effectively.


Satellite OBC products on the global market

Below you can see on board computers from multiple suppliers all over the world, along with useful overview information, images, and links to the supplier pages on satsearch.

Please note that this list will be updated when new products are added to the global marketplace for space – so please check back for more or sign up for our mailing list to get all the updates.

You can click on any of the links or images below to find out more about each of the products. You can also submit a request for information (RFI) on the product pages or send us a general query using our RFI tool to discuss your specific needs, and we will use our global networks of suppliers to find a system to meet your specifications.

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We can help you access quotes, lead times, or any other information from all of the suppliers listed below (and more) with our simple, free tender system. Just share your details with us and wait for the responses to arrive in your inbox.


The AAC Clyde Space Kryten-M3 is a flight-proven on-board computing system with in-built error detection and correction (EDAC) capabilities and designed to provide 'always-on' operation. The system features a Cortex-M3 processor and enhanced hardware/firmware recovery mechanisms along with an array of data interfaces.

Designed for satellite constellations in LEO and deep space exploration missions, the 130g Sirius OBC LEON3FT is based on a 50 MHz LEON3FT fault-tolerant soft processor with the RTEMS real-time operating system (RTOS), compliant to IEEE 1754 SPARCv8. The system features 1.3 W power consumption.

A 130g OBC with 10 kRAD radiation tolerance and RTEMS real-time operating system that runs on a 50 MHz LEON3FT fault-tolerant soft processor, compliant to IEEE 1754 SPARC v8. The system has a power rating of 1.3 W & fault tolerance secured via triple-modular redundancy on FPGA and memory scrubbing.

The AAC Clyde Space Sirius Quadcore LEON4FT On-board Computer is designed for spacecraft system management and payload processing in nanosatellites. With a quad core LEON4 (IEEE-1754 SPARC v8) fault-tolerant processor, the system is designed to be suitable for both deep space exploration missions and advanced satellite constellations in LEO.

The Alén Space TRISKEL - CubeSat OBC + TTC + OBSW Solution is an on-board computer, telemetry, tracking, and command hardware, and on-board software system for CubeSats. TRISKEL is a plug-and-play system featuring 'always-on' operation and 'no-code' development.

The EnduroSat Onboard Computer is a flight-proven OBC system with ARM Cortex M4/M7 processor of frequency rates up to 180 MHz and 216 MHz respectively. The system also features program memory, a wide array of integrated sensors and connectors, and ProtoBoard. The ProtoBoard simplifies access to main power and communications thus enabling a rapid payload integration. The system satisfies the CubeSat standards.

The Endurosat Onboard Computer is flight-proven OBC integrated with GNSS receiver. The product is radiation-tested and has a lifetime up to 5 years in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The OBC is used for secure data handling and operations, avionics and GNC, and payload operations.

The KP Labs Antelope can work as an On-Board Computer (OBC) with an optional Data Processing Unit (DPU) or as a data processing unit (DPU). OBC is the powerful heart of the satellite, responsible for satellite control and basic task performance such as communication handling, monitoring the satellite’s subsystems, handling the classic Fault Detection, Isolation and Recovery (FDIR) mechanism, and performing planned tasks.

The SkyLabs NANOobc-2 is an onboard computer with fault tolerance powered by PicoSkyFT processor for space applications. The NANOobc-2 is second generation of the flight proven OBC of SkyLabs. The fault tolerance of the system by design offers higher reliability and robustness against Single Event Effects (SEE).

The SkyLabs NANOhpm-obc is an onboard computer with RISC-V architecture, fault tolerant NOEL-V processor and flexbile SoC design for LEO applications. The system is designed to be versatile with variety of resources and interfaces. The NANOhpm-obc is designed for more processing power basing on the NANOobc architecture that has achieved flight heritage.

The SkyLabs NANOhpc-obc is designed for most demanding LEO satellite applications with very high-performance needs, featuring fault tolerant 64-bit high-performance multicore RISC-V cluster enhanced with AI accelerators such as Intel® Movidius™ and MicorChip VectorBlox™.  This offers a superior AI embedded computer solution for the most challenging applications, that does not take radiation resistance as an option. 

The Space Core FLYANGELA Onboard Computer (OBC) is designed for CubeSats and small satellites. It has an integrated accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and temperature sensors in order to expand onboard navigation capabilities. The OBC also consists of an extensive variety of interfaces, making it suitable for a wide variety of missions. It has CAN, SPI, I2C, RS422/RS485, GPIO and also optional SPACEWIRE.

The Space Core Lammar-HR-L3 is a radiation-hardened CPU designed for space applications. It is based on a 32-bits LEON3-FT SPARC V8 dual-core Processor, SRAM, SDRAM, dual FLASH memory for executive allocation, and a PROM device devoted to Bootloader allocation. It can operate in temperatures ranging between -55°C to +125°C. The product is customizable as per the customer's mission configuration requirement.

Spacemanic's Eddie - the On-board Computer - is a Cubesat OBC module suitable for nano-satellite C&DH, TT&C, mass storage, and ADSC. The system is made from components with extensive flight heritage on several space missions and complies with selected ECSS norms.

Spacemanic's Deep Thought - the On-board Computer - is a high-power CubeSat OBC module suitable for nanosatellite C&DH, TT&C, mass storage, and ADCS. The radiation-tolerant, plug-and-play system is compatible with a wide range of CubeSat components from third-party vendors as well as typical CubeSat standards.

The Micro Satellite Processor Unit (MICROSATPRO) is an OBC compatible with microsatellite platforms. It is a control unit that has high fault tolerance and processing power specifications for difficult space conditions.

The Nano-Satellite Processor Unit (NANOSATPRO) is an OBC compatible with nanosatellite platforms for advanced space missions. It has an operating system running on an FPGA (soft processor-based) and supports the most common interfaces (UART, RS485, CAN, SPI, I2C, etc.).

The Unibap SpaceCloud iX5-106 is designed for space applications. The iX5 family is Unibap’s most power-efficient and reliable computer solution for large and small spacecraft. It combines radiation tolerance and flight heritage, boasting a proven TRL 9 maturity. The iX5-106 model features an AMD Steppe Eagle Quad-core x86-64 CPU and AMD Radeon GPU paired with SATA SSD storage, a Microsemi SmartFusion2 FPGA, and an Intel Movidius Myriad X Vision Processing Unit.

The Unibap SpaceCloud's iX10 family is one of the most competent and versatile computer solutions for highly demanding space applications. It offers a wide range of I/O interfaces, exceptional data processing capabilities, and extensive storage capacities, with a proven maturity of TRL 8. 

A 32g (with RJ45 connector) system, with typical power of 1W, based on a hybrid environment of CPUs and reprogrammable logic. The Q7 is a flight-proven processor board based on the Xilinx Zynq-7020, including ARM dual-core Cortex-A9 MPCore processors supported by programmable logic resources.

A 24g (without RJ45 connector) system, with typical power of 1W. The Q7S consists of a Q7 card equipped with space-ready software and firmware based on a hybrid environment of CPUs and reprogrammable logic. The library of logic and software functions is augmented by onboard analog and digital I/O.

A 64g (with power barrel & RJ45) system based on a hybrid environment of multi-core CPUs and reprogrammable logic. The Q8 includes a Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ Multi-Processor System-on-Chip (MPSoC) Processing FPGA & memory resources such as LPDDR4 RAM (with EDAC), 2x QSPI Flash (NOR), and 2x eMMC.

A 56g (without power barrel & RJ45) system with > 25 krad radiation tolerance. The Q8S consists of a Q8 card equipped with space-ready software and firmware based on a hybrid environment of CPUs and reprogrammable logic. The library of logic and software functions is augmented by onboard digital I/O.

The Q8J extends the capability of the Xiphos Q8 processor, adding support for high speed JESD204B interfaces and access to external DDR3 or DDR4 memory. Suitable for SDR applications, the Q8J is delivered with a detachable PIM with standard interfaces, debug LEDs & other lab development features.

The Q8JS extends the capability of the Xiphos Q8 card with support for high speed JESD204B interfaces and access to external DDR3 or DDR4 memory. Suitable for SDR applications, the Q8JS consists of a Q8J card equipped with space-ready software and firmware plus a library of logic functions.

The Zephyr Computing Systems Zephyr Kestrel is a data processing system designed for CubeSats and small satellites. With the NVIDIA Jetson TX2i module at its core, the Zephyr Kestrel adds massive parallel computing capability as well as high-performance CPUs. Zephyr’s design adds extra storage, including a standard microSD card and M.2 2280 SSD slot. The product's design also provides protection and telemetry circuits for routine monitoring, as well as fault detection and isolation.

The Airbus ICDE-NG (Integrated Control and Data Equipment - Next Generation) is an on-board computer designed for multipurpose applications in LEO, MEO, and GEO. It consists ERC32 processor module with high memory capacity and has a military standard (MIL-STD) 1553B interface running at 1MHz. ICDE-NG also has an optional GPS receiver module for LEO, MEO, and GEO missions. The product weighs 13.6 kgs and has a maximum power consumption rate of 35 Watts.

The Airbus PureLine Amethyst is a compact and lightweight on-board computer designed for LEO missions. Some of its key features include an interface to attitude and orbit control system (AOCS) for sensors, actuators, magnetorquers, and solar array step motors as well as software time and space partitioning capability. The product weighs 3.5 kgs and has a power consumption rate between 20 and 50 Watts.

The Airbus OSCAR is a flight proven on-board computer designed for satellite missions. It is based on LEON3-FT processor and has two redundant military standard (MIL-STD) 1553B bus. It consists two Space Wire links and has two processor boards as well as two DC/DC converter boards with 1500 fits per channel. The product weighs 5 kgs and has a maximum power consumption rate of 15 Watts.

The Aitech SP0 is a space-qualified Radiation Tolerant 3U CompactPCI single-board computer (SBC) designed for LEO, MEO, and GEO missions. It consists of three on-board temperature sensors and has successfully undergone radiation testing at the target of 100 kRad (Si).

The Aitech S950 is a Radiation Tolerant 3U CompactPCI single-board computer (SBC) designed for LEO, GEO, and Mars mission. The SBC is based on NXP's PowerPC 750GX processor. It can be used in numerous mission critical systems operating in harsh environments.

The Aitech SP0-S is a space-qualified Radiation Tolerant 3U CompactPCI single-board computer (SBC) designed for LEO, MEO, and GEO missions. The SBC is based on NXP’s PowerQUICCIII MPC8548E system on chip (SoC) with an e500 processing core.

The Aphelion Cubesat Bus Module is an integrated electrical power system and on-board computer solution.

The Argotec HACK - Modular On-Board Computer offers a flexible and scalable on-board computing option for a wide variety of mission applications. It includes a range of standard modules, based on both SoCs and FPGAs, and the system can be assembled without the need of external harness.

The Argotec FERMI Deep Space On-Board Computer is a rad-hard avionics unit for deep space and mission-critical applications.

The RAD5545™ SpaceVPX single-board computer (SBC) integrates a version 1.2 RAD5545 system-on-chip (SoC) processor, with volatile & non-volatile memory, on a 6U-220 format module, compliant to the ANSI/VITA 78.00 SpaceVPX standard. Can operate as payload or system controller in a SpaceVPX backplane.

The C3S Electronics Development On-Board Computer (OBC) features a single-point failure-tolerant design and a high performance MCU. The system can include an optional daughterboard for memory expansion and includes a space-grade connector to the backplane to simplify integration.

The C3S Electronics Development Customizable High-Performance OBC (CHP-OBC) is a general-purpose computation platform for nano- and microsatellites.

The Data Patterns On Board Computer DP-OBC-0402 is a compact and rugged OBC with an e200 core processor and is compatible with the PC104 form factor standard. It has an in-built ADC for temperature monitoring and to provide sensor interfaces, and features a wide variety of data interfaces incluign 4RS422, 2SPI, 2 Flex CAn, and a 10/100 Mbps MII (Media Independent Interface) Ethernet interface.

OBC Core

DATASHEET

The D-Orbit OBC Core is designed to provide a cost-effective OBC solution for general application on mini- and microsatellites. Built with rugged automotive-grade components, the system can feature up to 4 cores configured to work either independently for load balancing, or in combination as redundant units for increased reliability.

Simba

DATASHEET

The D-Orbit Simba OBC is designed to offer a lightweight and low-cost onboard computing solution for general purpose satellite applications and platform management. The system is based on a flight-proven LEON3-FT SPARC V8 core by Cobham Gaisler (GR712RC) and features a qualified RTEMS operating system with an optional time and space positioning system.

A LEON-3FT (Dual Core) processor with interfaces to connect the AOCS, payload sub-system, and power sub-system, including SpaceWire and CAN. Featuring FPGA capability for customization, along with full-redundant architecture with 2 CPU boards, 2 IO boards and 2 power boards in Europe-Card format.

The EREMS CPUGEN - On-Board Computing Module is an integrated processor board feat. several interfaces including MIL-STD-1553, Spacewire, CAN, & GPIO.

CHAMPS is provided with CubeSat-compatible SWaP, with an 82 mm x 82 mm enclosure and dynamically configurable performance with power ranging from ~0.6 W up to ~12 W. The system features a Xilinx MPSoC device with an ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core APU at up to 1 GHz.

Innoflight’s Trillion FLoating-point Operations Per second (TFLOP) computer is designed for LEO operations and includes an ARM Cortex-A15 (up to 2.32 GHz) processor and a Xilinx Ultrascale+ FPGA system. It also features a scalable number of GPU hardware accelerators.

The ISIS On Board Computer (iOBC) is a flight-proven, high-performance processing unit based around an ARM9 processor. The system has a speed of 400 MHz and includes a pluggable daughter board for additional flexibility and customizability, providing a wide range of extra interfaces for payloads, sensors, or actuators in a compact form factor.

An OBC with a general-purpose hardware platform, suited for a range of satellite and CubeSat missions. It features a MSP430 (EP series) microcontroller and a Spartan-3E FPGA, organized in independent but cooperative cores, designed to provide hardware redundancy and common mode fault tolerance.

The Moog Radiation Tolerant, Multi-Core ARM SpaceVPX Single Board Computer (SBC) is a 3U or 6U board that can be integrated into customer VPX systems.

The Moog Radiation Tolerant, 75 GFLOP 3U SpaceVPX GPU Single Board Computer (SBC) is a rad-tolerant GPU-based SBC for satellite missions.

The Moog Radiation Tolerant, 150 GFLOP DSP SpaceVPX Single Board Computer is a 3U or 6U SBC with a multi-core DSP System-on-Chip (SoC).

The NARA SPACE NST OBC is based on a 400 MHz ARM Microprocessor and can contain two daughter boards such as GPS, UHF, and S-band board if needed.

The Novo Space SBC002AV Single Board Computer has a Zynq Ultrascale+ with 4GB ECC-protected SDRAM & is compatible with the Vita 78 SpaceVPX standard.

The Novo Space SBC003AV Single Board Computer for low power applications features a Smartfusion2 from Microsemi and an FPGA fabric.

The Novo Space SBC004AV Single Board Computer has a Xilinx Versal ACAP and can enable AI computing on the edge.

A 60g (without heat sink) compute platform for single- and double-precision operations, compatible with nanosatellites. Featuring < 1 TFLOPs processor performance, the system is based on Xilinx Ultrascale+ MPSoCs with dual-core ARM cortex A53 and R5 64-bit processing cores, and LPDDR4 memory.

A 60g (without heat sink) compute platform for single- and double-precision operations, compatible with nanosatellites. Featuring 1 to 5 TFLOPS processor performance, the system is based on Xilinx Ultrascale+ MPSoCs with dual-core ARM cortex A53 and R5 64-bit processing cores, and LPDDR4 memory.

An 80g (without heat sink) compute platform for single- and double-precision operations, compatible with nanosatellites. Featuring 3 to 15 TFLOPS processor performance, the system is based on Xilinx Ultrascale+ MPSoCs with dual-core ARM cortex A53 and R5 64-bit processing cores, and LPDDR4 memory.

Resilient Computing's RadPC - Radiation Tolerant Computing system is a space computer that uses COTS FPGA tech for in-built failure recovery.

The Medusa Single Board Computer (SBC) is SEAKR’s fourth iteration of the PowerQUICC®-III high performance PowerPC Single Board Computer (SBC) product line. It features a PowerPC® e500 core delivering 2450 DMIPS @ 1.066 GHz, and is suitable for a variety of mission applications.

The Spaceteq OBC-GR712 is a high reliability, low power flight computer for low earth orbit (LEO) spacecraft.

Designed for the radiation environment of NASA’s Multiscale Magnetospheric Mission, the ZIN Technologies Single Board Computer (SBC) is based on a Leon3FT processor and is capable of 30 DMIPS and 4MFLOPS. Includes Actel RTAX FPGAs and can be customized with additional interfaces and memory.


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