NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have collaborated to build a supercomputer that would be used to develop simulations and models of the future Artemis missions. The Artemis program aims to return people to the moon and also establish a semi-permanent presence in the lunar orbit.
The supercomputer is named Aitken and would function at over 3.6 petaFLOPs to help scientists generate accurate and realistic simulations of various scenarios such as descent, landing, docking of modules, safe approaches, and re-entry and so on.
The Aitken would be powered by Intel Xeon processors and would have an onboard memory of 221 Terabytes. The Artemis program, in addition to sending people to the moon, would also establish a space station orbiting the moon. The subsequent manned mission to the moon would serve as a foundation for future missions to Mars. The logistics for such missions, especially to carry the crew and return them safely, are enormous.
HPE had built another supercomputer for NASA that would be carried over to the International Space Station. It was specially built to withstand the rigors of spaceflight as well as the harsh and unforgiving conditions of space. It would also be an excellent opportunity to assess the feasibility of undertaking such projects when NASA finally carries out manned missions to the red planet.
Supercomputers are absolutely necessary for guidance, navigation and course corrections when a spacecraft is traveling through space.