Forth in Space Applications

 Featured Forth Applications

Also see: Space Shuttle Robot Arm Simulator

Reprinted from the 14 April 2003 version of NASA staff’s list of the uses of Forth in space applications. The list is archived at the Internet Archive WayBack Machine. The original URL was: http://forth.gsfc.nasa.gov/, where it was curated by NASA’s James Rash.


The following table presents space-related applications of Forth microprocessors and the Forth programming language, including:

  • spacecraft flight system controllers
  • on-board payload experiment controllers
  • ground support systems (e.g., communications controllers and data processing systems)
  • hardware or software used to build or test either flight or ground systems.

Developers are requested to supply table updates and corrections, as well as information regarding relevant projects not already included, as appropriate. Please send information, comments, and suggestions to the author of this web page. Authorization for release of the information is the responsibility of the contributor.

Notice: Nothing appearing in these pages is to be construed as an endorsement by NASA. The information may be changed or withdrawn at any time without notice. The author has obtained the information from sources believed to be reliable, and has attempted to ensure accuracy, but makes no guarantees or representations of any kind. Copying, using, and distributing the table is authorized, provided it is kept intact, properly attributed, and accompanied by this Notice.

DEVELOPERMISSIONDESCRIPTION
Baja Technology LLCIMAGEController for the Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) instrument, using Harris RTX2010 Forth microprocessor
Baja Technology LLCRosettaController for the Ion and Electron Sensor instrument, using Harris RTX2010 Forth microprocessor
Baja Technology LLCDeep ImpactController for the Avionics & Control (AOC) system, using Harris RTX2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceAdvanced Composition Explorer (ACE)Star Scanner instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceChandra X-ray ObservatorySoftware to control the Science Instrument selection and focus mechanisms, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceChandra X-ray ObservatorySoftware to operate precision CCD Aspect Camera, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceEarth Observing System (EOS)Scanning mirror controller for the Thermal Imaging Radiometer (TIR), using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceMidcourse Sensor Experiment (MSX) – SDIOStar Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceMilitary aircraftStar Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceMiniature Seeker Technology Integration (MSTI)Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceNear Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR)Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceSAGE (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment) IIICCD Controller Software, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceShuttleStar Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceSubmillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS)Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball AerospaceX-ray Timing Explorer (XTE)Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)Advance Composition Explorer (ACE)Cosmic Ray Isotope Spectrometer (CRIS) instrument controller hardware (RTX2010) and software in Forth
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)Advance Composition Explorer (ACE)Solar IsotopeSpectrometer (SIS) instrument controller hardware (RTX2010) and software in Forth
FORTH, Inc.USAF Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS)Position encoder implemented with SwiftX cross compiler on Harris RTX-2010 Forth microprocessor
Innovatia LaboratoriesNASA & USAF tropospheric research balloonsTelemetry system using Innovatia MC1 microcontroller running Forth-83
Johns Hopkins University Applied PhysicsLaboratory (JHU/APL)USAF DMSPMagnetometer instrument control
JHU/APLUSAF DMSPSpecial Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager (SSUSI), 5 missions over 15 years using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
JHU/APLAdvanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satelliteULEIS (Ultra Low Energy Isotope Spectrometer), using embedded Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
JHU/APLCASSINI spacecraftMagnetospheric Imager (MIMI) using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
JHU/APLHILATMagnetometer instrument control
JHU/APLHopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT)Instrument control, on-line data analysis, telemetry
JHU/APLMAGSATAttitude Control Processor
JHU/APLPolar Bear (Polar Beacon & Auroral Research Satellite)Magnetometer instrument control
JHU/APLUS Navy LONARS High precision navigation receiver using Loran-CReal time data processing & sensor control software
JHU/APLNear Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR)Command & Telemetry Processor,Multi-Spectral Imaging System,Infrared Spectrograph and Magnetometer,X-ray/Gamma-ray Spectrometer, andLaser Rangefinder, all using the Harris RTX 2010RH Forth microprocessor
Los Alamos National LaboratoryAdvanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satelliteSolar wind data processing unit, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
McDonnell DouglasShuttle – Electrophoresis Operations in Space (1986)Pharmaceutical purification process control software
McGill UniversityInternational Microgravity Laboratory (IML-1) (shuttle mission STS-42)Space Adaptation Syndrom Experiment management and data acquisition for four out of seven life science experiments
NASA/GSFCCompatibility Test Van (CTV)Dual channel PCM simulator system software
NASA/GSFCCompatibility Test Van (CTV): Landsat, HST, GRO, COBE, UARS, etc., Wallops, Data Evaluation LabProgrammable Data Formatter III system software
NASA/GSFCCRAF/CASSINIMASSACQ Flight Instrument Test/Calibration System
NASA/GSFCMarine Optical Buoy (MOBY)Command and data acquisition system written in Forth
NASA/GSFCMassively Parallel Processor (MPP)Image processing software
NASA/GSFCNCC Mission Operations Support Area (MOSA)ITR (Intelligent Transmitter/Receiver) — Interface board for MOSA (formerly Mini-NOCC) Front End
NASA/GSFCShuttle Solar Backscatter Ultra Violet (SSBUV) ozone calibration instrument with eight successful shuttle bay flightsSmall Payload Accommodation Module (SPAM) interface controller software written in Forth
NASA/GSFCShuttle Solar Backscatter Ultra Violet (SSBUV)Instrument Interface Electronics Module (IIEM) software written in Forth
NASA/GSFCShuttle Ozone Limb Sounder Experiment (SOLSE)A "Hitchhiker Junior", to fly summer '97 — instrument controller writtenin Forth
NASA/GSFCLimb Ozone Retrieval Experiment (LORE)A small independent instrument within SOLSE — instrument controller written in Forth
NASA/GSFCUltraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT) on Space Shuttle Astro-2 missionDedicated Experiment Processor (DEP) written in Forth
NASA/GSFCSmall Spacecraft Technology Initiative (SSTI) (Lewis Research Center/TRW)Goddard Electronics Module (GEM) data acquisition processor using Harris RTX-2010
NASA/GSFCACE (JHU/APL)Spacecraft Loads & Acoustic Monitor (SLAM) simultaneous data acquisition and downlink subsystem using Harris RTX-2010
NASA/GSFCWideband Transport Frame Formatter (WTFF)Virtual channel processor & system controller for the Advanced Orbiting Systems (AOS) Testbed using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
NASA/JSCShuttle, IML-1Krug Life Sciences Microgravity Vestibular Investigations
NASA/JPLShuttle Imaging Radar (SIR-B)Command & control software
NASATOPEXPortion of Ground Support Equipment software
NSIGlobalstar, Thuraya, Iridium, ICO, Astrolink, various NASA missions including SWAS (Sub millimeter wave astronomy satellite), Space Shuttle Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and Rosetta (comet probe)Microwave nearfield antenna testing of spacecraft antennas
Orbital Sciences CorporationORBCOMM Experimental Package OXP-1 on PegasusFlight & experiment software
Orbital Sciences CorporationORBCOMM Experimental Package OXP-1 on PegasusFlight & experiment software
Orbital Sciences Corporation (formerly Fairchild Space & Defense)USAF Multimission Modular Spacecraft (MMS)Multiplex Data Bus Monitor/Recorder test equipment using Harris RTX2000 microprocessor and firmware written in Forth
Orbital Sciences CorporationORBCOMM-XTelemetry, flight control support
Orbital Sciences CorporationUSAF APEXData management and power control software
Orbital Sciences CorporationSeaStarSea WiFs data management and power control software
Orbital Sciences Corporation/HerculesPegasusTelemetry & flight control
Radio Amateur Satellite Corp. (AMSAT-DL (Germany))Integrated Housekeeping Unit (including navigation, attitude control, telemetry and telecommand tracking, payload control, power management, health & safety, and propulsion control) and Ground Support Equipment, all using the Forth-like language IPS (Interpreter for Process Structures). OSCAR 21 used the Harris RTX2000 microprocessor.
Swedish Space Corp./JHU/APLFrejaMagnetometer experiment control
University of CaliforniaGalileoMagnetic Field Experiment instrument control
University of WisconsinWisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment (WUPPE)Instrument control
US NavySPINSATPortion of ground support equipment software
USSRBaikonur CosmodromeTelemetry data analysis & retrieval workstations
Vertex Communications CorporationSatellite earth station antenna systems7210 Monopulse Antenna Control System on Motorola 68030 platform

This reprint of NASA’s James Rash’s list of Forth in space applications is reprinted here, courtesy of FORTH, Inc., in order to preserve the information and make it more accessible. Contact information and names might have changed. Additions are welcome, in the event that we may update it — use this web site’s general contact form to provide details. Thank you.