Every time a new game system comes out we read the specifications out loud and compare the computational power to the original Super Computer. "All this to play games"? At least the off the shelf consumer electronics in this example will be doing something worthwhile.
I agree, it's quite amazing to see NASA using COTS products in such an expensive and complex piece of machinery...especially for the crucial control aspect of the satellite. But I have done some coverage of NASA and know they are trying to do more with less, so necessity could be the mother of invention here. It also shows what great minds can do when they don't want to reinvent the wheel.
Phonesat is an inexpensive sat which takes the advantage of latest technology, but the smartphone's hardware is not built to take long-term radiation exposure and they will eventually start to breakdown.
I had that thought as well. I think the way this becomes very inexpensive (in comparison to a previously typical satellite launch) is that you can launch a whole network of satellites with a single shuttle launche versus one, maybe two, satellites per launch. Whether that work that way or not, the cost of the satellite is a major part of the overall cost and a reduction in cost in "orders of magnitude" is some serious savings!
Add in the consumer advances in rocket launches (Elon Musk, etc.) and that part will also experience an economy of scale in the near future as well.
Good point, tekochip. It's not well known by many non-engineers, but games have always been at or near the state of the art in computational power. As you say, it's nice to know the technology is being put to a worthwhile use.
As an industry, we now need to up our game and provide contractors with easier ways to properly identify and report counterfeit products and build collaboration between manufacturers, design engineers, industry organizations, and government.
The shift to aluminum is gaining momentum and the demand from automakers for aluminum is soaring, "expecting to reach one billion pounds this year, up from 200 million in 2012, and to grow by more than 30% annually through 2020."
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.