SpaceX Sent NASA Astronatus Into Orbit Powered by Linux

Even if you’re a macOS/iOS user or a Windows user, you are using Linux every single day. And you, probably, don’t even know it. How the hell is that even possible? Let me break it down for you. If you… :

  1. Use ANY Android based device, including eReaders
  2. Use a virtual assistant like Alexa
  3. Use TiVo, Roku or a SmartTV
  4. If you’re gaming using SteamOS
  5. Use social media websites/apps and basically the entire internet ( almost )
  6. Use retail and go through the points of sale
  7. Took a flight? The Federal Aviation Administration operates on Linux. So does the New York Stock Exchange, the Pentagon, Library of Congress, House of Representatives, Senate and the White House.
  8. Used the in-flight entertainment
  9. Use smart devices and have a smart home
  10. Use the infotaiment in your car
  11. Have a router
  12. Use iCloud

… then you are using Linux.

On May 30, history was made when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon successfully delivered NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into orbit. What is less known about the event is that the launch was powered by Linux.

The Falcon 9’s onboard operating system is a stripped-down Linux running on three ordinary dual-core x86 processors. The flight software itself runs separately on each processor and is written in C/C++.

The Dragon spacecraft also runs Linux with flight software written in C++. The ship’s touchscreen interface is rendered using Chromium and JavaScript. If something were to go wrong with the interface, the astronauts have physical buttons to control the spacecraft.

However, SpaceX isn’t the first to bring the power of the open source kernel and software into the orbit. In 2013, the International Space Station reportedly switched from Windows to Linux. Not to mentions that NASA runs on Linux and even the Astrobee robots, that were deployed to the ISS not too long ago, run on Linux.

Read more about it here. Also read We are the SpaceX software team, ask us anything!



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