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Space travel poses a number of unique challenges to scientists and engineers – radiation being but one of them, but a major challenge nonetheless.

Without the protective electromagnetic shielding generated by the Earth’s rotation, radiation can lay waste not only to biological matter – human spacefarers – but to the electronics on board spaceships as well.

Modern spaceships are already equipped with sophisticated computing systems, but the ability to use cutting edge processing technology would greatly improve mission outcomes.

Now, BAE Systems has made a giant leap forward in solving the problem. They have developed a new microchip technology that will allow for greater computational power at data transfer speeds in the harsh environment of space.

The new chip, known as the RADNET1848-PS space-grade RapidIO switch, will use IDT’s RapidIO interconnect technology to speed-up data throughput in a network of radiation-hardened computers in outer space.

The new RapidIO switches will provide ultra-low-latency between processing units, thus increasing efficiency and lowering lag time. This will allow far more intensive computations to be performed “on-site” in space.

“With more complex sensors being introduced into space missions, BAE Systems recognized the need to develop microchips that can handle the related increase in larger-volume data transfer, and with IDT’s technology, we have accomplished that goal,” said Ian McDonald, director of Space Products and Processing at BAE Systems. “These types of advances will provide the mission critical, high performance networking connectivity necessary for the next generations of high performance space systems for Military, commercial, and civil applications – and possibly even high energy physics systems.”