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 The information may be changed or withdrawn at any time without notice.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.

DEVELOPER MISSION DESCRIPTION
Baja Technology LLC IMAGE Controller for the Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) instrument, using Harris RTX2010 Forth microprocessor
Baja Technology LLC Rosetta Controller for the Ion and Electron Sensor instrument, using Harris RTX2010 Forth microprocessor
Baja Technology LLC Deep Impact Controller for the Avionics & Control (AOC) system, using Harris RTX2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) Star Scanner instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Chandra X-ray Observatory Software to control the Science Instrument selection and focus mechanisms, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Chandra X-ray Observatory Software to operate precision CCD Aspect Camera, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Earth Observing System (EOS) Scanning mirror controller for the Thermal Imaging Radiometer (TIR), using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Midcourse Sensor Experiment (MSX) – SDIO Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Military aircraft Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Miniature Seeker Technology Integration (MSTI) Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace SAGE (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment) III CCD Controller Software, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Shuttle Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) Star Tracker instrument & control software, using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
Ball Aerospace X-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 Laboratories NASA & USAF tropospheric research balloons Telemetry system using Innovatia MC1 microcontroller running Forth-83
Johns Hopkins University Applied PhysicsLaboratory (JHU/APL) USAF DMSP Magnetometer instrument control
JHU/APL USAF DMSP Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager (SSUSI), 5 missions over 15 years using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
JHU/APL Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite ULEIS (Ultra Low Energy Isotope Spectrometer), using embedded Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
JHU/APL CASSINI spacecraft Magnetospheric Imager (MIMI) using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
JHU/APL HILAT Magnetometer instrument control
JHU/APL Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT) Instrument control, on-line data analysis, telemetry
JHU/APL MAGSAT Attitude Control Processor
JHU/APL Polar Bear (Polar Beacon & Auroral Research Satellite) Magnetometer instrument control
JHU/APL US Navy LONARS High precision navigation receiver using Loran-C Real time data processing & sensor control software
JHU/APL Near 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 Laboratory Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite Solar wind data processing unit, using Harris RTX 2010 Forth microprocessor
McDonnell Douglas Shuttle – Electrophoresis Operations in Space (1986) Pharmaceutical purification process control software
McGill University International 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/GSFC Compatibility Test Van (CTV) Dual channel PCM simulator system software
NASA/GSFC Compatibility Test Van (CTV): Landsat, HST, GRO, COBE, UARS, etc., Wallops, Data Evaluation Lab Programmable Data Formatter III system software
NASA/GSFC CRAF/CASSINI MASSACQ Flight Instrument Test/Calibration System
NASA/GSFC Marine Optical Buoy (MOBY) Command and data acquisition system written in Forth
NASA/GSFC Massively Parallel Processor (MPP) Image processing software
NASA/GSFC NCC Mission Operations Support Area (MOSA) ITR (Intelligent Transmitter/Receiver) — Interface board for MOSA (formerly Mini-NOCC) Front End
NASA/GSFC Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultra Violet (SSBUV) ozone calibration instrument with eight successful shuttle bay flights Small Payload Accommodation Module (SPAM) interface controller software written in Forth
NASA/GSFC Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultra Violet (SSBUV) Instrument Interface Electronics Module (IIEM) software written in Forth
NASA/GSFC Shuttle Ozone Limb Sounder Experiment (SOLSE) A "Hitchhiker Junior", to fly summer '97 — instrument controller writtenin Forth
NASA/GSFC Limb Ozone Retrieval Experiment (LORE) A small independent instrument within SOLSE — instrument controller written in Forth
NASA/GSFC Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT) on Space Shuttle Astro-2 mission Dedicated Experiment Processor (DEP) written in Forth
NASA/GSFC Small Spacecraft Technology Initiative (SSTI) (Lewis Research Center/TRW) Goddard Electronics Module (GEM) data acquisition processor using Harris RTX-2010
NASA/GSFC ACE (JHU/APL) Spacecraft Loads & Acoustic Monitor (SLAM) simultaneous data acquisition and downlink subsystem using Harris RTX-2010
NASA/GSFC Wideband Transport Frame Formatter (WTFF) Virtual channel processor & system controller for the Advanced Orbiting Systems (AOS) Testbed using Harris RTX 2000 Forth microprocessor
NASA/JSC Shuttle, IML-1 Krug Life Sciences Microgravity Vestibular Investigations
NASA/JPL Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR-B) Command & control software
NASA TOPEX Portion of Ground Support Equipment software
NSI Globalstar, 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 Corporation ORBCOMM Experimental Package OXP-1 on Pegasus Flight & experiment software
Orbital Sciences Corporation ORBCOMM Experimental Package OXP-1 on Pegasus Flight & 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 Corporation ORBCOMM-X Telemetry, flight control support
Orbital Sciences Corporation USAF APEX Data management and power control software
Orbital Sciences Corporation SeaStar Sea WiFs data management and power control software
Orbital Sciences Corporation/Hercules Pegasus Telemetry & 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/APL Freja Magnetometer experiment control
University of California Galileo Magnetic Field Experiment instrument control
University of Wisconsin Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment (WUPPE) Instrument control
US Navy SPINSAT Portion of ground support equipment software
USSR Baikonur Cosmodrome Telemetry data analysis & retrieval workstations
Vertex Communications Corporation Satellite earth station antenna systems 7210 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.