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Arm Cortex-M0 Microcontroller Flight Heritage

Posted December 18th by Ross Bannatyne

The beginning of December was an exciting month for VORAGO Technologies. Within a period of three days we watched two of our Arm Cortex-M0 microcontrollers launched into space.

On December 3rd, our MCU was launched into Sun-Synchronous orbit along with eight other HARDSIL-enabled memory ICs that are all being used together in a NASA / Air Force science experiment on the STPSat-5 payload.

Two days later, on December 5th, we saw another VORAGO Arm Cortex-M0 device used on the NASA TechEdSat-8 CubeSat launched into low earth orbit. The first Cortex-M0 microcontroller in space was a VORAGO chip that is still operating on a science experiment on the International Space Station (since February 2016). There are now several VORAGO Arm Cortex-M0 microcontrollers orbiting the earth in commercial, government, NASA and university research satellites.

The success of the rad-hard Cortex-M0 microcontroller can be attributed to the desire to improve mission assurance by using chips that were designed to operate in the space radiation environment. Commercial semiconductors can be upset or destroyed by the radiation that exists in space and those failures are irreparable and expensive. Although the VORAGO Arm Cortex-M0 MCU has a higher price than a commercial Cortex-M0 IC, it is still a very small proportion of the cost of creating and launching a spacecraft. In terms of improving system reliability, it is money well spent.

We’re looking forward for further expanding our fight heritage in 2019 - the next scheduled launch is at the beginning of March and it will be followed by several more during the course of the year.