HPE's Custom Built Supercomputer Will Help NASA Get to the Moon in 2024

The computer boasts some impressive stats including 3.69 petaflops of theoretical peak performance.
Donovan Alexander

It is well documented that the computer that was on board the Apollo 11 spacecraft was a far shadow from any computer that you might find today on your desktop or even in your pocket.

Dubbed the Apollo Guidance Computer, the AGC was responsible for controlling the guidance and navigation systems of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. 

It has been said that our current iPhone processor is estimated to be over 100,000 times more powerful than Apollo's 11's computer. To drive home the point even further, it would take the AGS system well over a quintillion years to mine a single Bitcoin block. All of this reminds us of how far we have come and has got us excited about the technology expected to be used in the next moon landing


Speaking of impressive future technology, Hewlett Packard Enterprise or HPE has announced a stunning and powerful supercomputer designed for NASA's Ames Research Center. The supercomputer will play a vital role in the preparations general missions and the Artemis program - the next mission to land humans on the Moon's South Pole in 2024. 

Meet the supercomputer Aitken

Dubbed Aitken, the supercomputer gets its name from Robert Grant Aitken, an American astronomer specializing in binary star systems. Aitken will be supporting NASA's Ames Research Center by providing models and simulations of entry, descent, and landing for the programs mentioned above.

Now, when we say this computer is powerful, it is. The supercomputer is able to run thousands of complex simulations at 3.69 petaFLOPS. Especially regarding the Artemis Program, the simulations will help ensure safe landings on NASA's return to the moon. 

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Both NASA and HPE are excited about the four-year, multi-phase collaboration stating in the HPE press release, “HPE has a longstanding collaboration with NASA Ames, and together, we continue to build innovative HPC technologies to fuel space and science discovery that increase overall efficiency and reduce costs."

“We are honored to have designed the new Aitken supercomputer and power capabilities for humanity’s next mission to the moon.”

Looking under the hood

HPE has prided themselves off the fact that Aitken is a highly energy-efficient supercomputer that is modular, and will eventually replace the need for a cooling tower and the need for a tremendous amount of water which is generally needed for cooling a computer on such a massive scale.

It is based on HPE's SGI 8600 that is also recognized for its special liquid cooling capabilities. Other more impressive features of the supercomputer include 1,150 nodes, 46,080 cores, and 221 TB of memory. 

Look for more news on the coming NASA trip to the moon here on Interesting Engineering

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