From WikiChip
microprocessors used in spacecrafts

Throughout the years, microprocessors have played a large role in spacecrafts. space-qualified microprocessors are designed to be exceptionally reliable and highly durable. Due to their unique nature, the same set of chips that have been tested and proven to work are used in many spacecrafts. Below is a list of microprocessors used in spacecraft.


Year Picture Spacecraft Chipset
1959-1963 200px Mercury spacecraft None
Description: The Mercury spacecraft, NASA's first human spaceflight, had barely enough space for a single occupant. The spacecraft had no independent maneuvering capabilities - relying completely on the Atlas booster rocket. Because of that, it was unnecessary for the spacecraft to have a dedicated on-board computer. Limited functionality was done by various smaller systems.


Year Picture Spacecraft Chipset
System Processor Frequency Memory Weight
1962-1966 Gemini spacecraft.jpg Gemini Spacecraft Gemini Guidance Computer discrete IC RTL 7.143 kHz 19.5 KB 58.98 lb
The Gemini Spacecraft was part of Project Gemini, NASA's second human spaceflight program.
1961-1972 Apollo CSM lunar orbit.jpg Apollo spacecraft Apollo Guidance Computer discrete IC RTL 2.048 MHz 4 KB (RAM)
73.73 KB (ROM)
70 lb
The Apollo spacecraft was part of the Apollo program, NASA's third human spaceflight program.


Year Picture Spacecraft Description
1971 Pioneer 10-11 spacecraft.jpg Pioneer 10 The Pioneer 10, which was launched on March 3, 1972, became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The spacecraft's process were made of individual transistor-transistor logic chips. A common myth is that the Intel 4004 powered the Pioneer 10, however, this is incorrect.
1973 Pioneer 11 The Pioneer 11, was launched on April 6, 1973 in order to study the Asteroid belt. Just like it's twin probe, the Pioneer 10, its CPU was also a custom-designed TTL CPU.
Skylab (SL-4).jpg Skylab The Skylab, which was launched on May 14, 1973, and operated until 1979, used an IBM System/4Pi model TC-1 (Tactical Computer), a miniaturized and hardened version of the IBM System/360 computers.
1975 Viking spacecraft.jpg Viking 1 The Viking 1, the first of two spacecrafts, was launched on August 20, 1975. The Viking 2, was launched a year later on September 9, 1975 The computer on-board the Viking Orbiter was the Viking Orbiter CCS, a custom 18-bit TTL computer designed by General Electric. The lander computers, the Guidance, Control and Sequencing Computer, used two Honeywell HDC 402 microprocessors. (A common myth is that the Viking used an RCA 1802, this is incorrect).
Viking 2
1977 Voyager spacecraft.jpg Voyager 1 The Voyager 1 and its sister craft Voyager 2 were launched on September 5 and August 20 of 1977 and are still operating to date (2014). On August 25, 2012, NASA announced that Voyager 1 entered interstellar space.

Each craft carries three dual-redundant computer systems. The first one, the Voyager Command and Control Subsystem (CCS), was in charge of general spacecraft sequencing and general health functionality. The second one, the Voyager Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystems (AACS) used a slight variation of the CCS. The third computer was the Voyager's data computer, which was a custom 4-bit CMOS microprocessor.

Voyager 2


Year Picture Spacecraft Description
1981-2011 STS129 Atlantis ride to orbit.jpg Space Shuttle The Space Shuttles uses 5 identical (for redundancy) 32-bit IBM APA-101S microprocessors. The shuttle system was called the Data Processing System which was composed of Primary Avionics Software System (PASS), that ran in 4 of the computers and the Backup Flight System on the fifth.
1989 Artwork Galileo-Io-Jupiter.JPG Galileo The Galileo spacecraft uses the RCA 1802 CPU.


Year Picture Spacecraft Description
1990 HST-SM4.jpeg Hubble Space Telescope
1991 UARS 1.jpg [[Wikipedia:Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite|UARS]. The UARS spacecraft used the NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer (NSSC-1), although the various instruments probably had embedded microprocessors.]
Cartoon CGRO.jpg CGRO
1992 MSTI-1 drawing.gif MSTI-1
EUVE Photo.gif EUVE
TOPEX;Poseidon.jpg TOPEX/Poseidon
1993 PoSAT-1
1994 MSTI-2.gif MSTI-2
Clementine Deployed.png Clementine
1995 MSTI-3
1996 FAST.jpg FAST
1997 Mars Global Surveyor.jpg Mars Global Surveyor
Sojourner on Mars PIA01122.jpg Mars Sojourner Rover 80C85 CPU.
Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion.jpg Cassini–Huygens
1998 International Space Station after undocking of STS-132.jpg International Space Station
Swas 1.jpg SWAS
TRACE satellite.jpg TRACE
Deep Space 1 using its ion engine.jpg Deep Space 1
1999 TERRA am1.jpg Terra
Wide Field Infrared Explorer module.jpg WIRE


Year Picture Spacecraft Description
2000 Cluster II
Mightysat2.jpg MightySat-2.1
2001 Genesis in collection mode.jpg Genesis
2002 Aqua satellite simulation.jpg Aqua
Rhessi.jpg RHESSI
2003 NASA Mars Rover.jpg Spirit Rover
Opportunity PIA03240.jpg Opportunity rover
200px Spitzer Space Telescope
Icesat.jpg ICESat
Coriolis satellite.jpg Coriolis
2004 Rosetta.jpg Rosetta
Aura satellite.jpg Aura
Swift spacecraft.jpg Swift
Artist concept of Gravity Probe B.jpg Gravity Probe B
2006 200px New Horizons
Artist's concept showing CME sweeping past STEREO.jpg STEREO
2007 Dawn Flight Configuration 2.jpg Dawn
Phoenix landing.jpg Phoenix


Year Picture Spacecraft Description
2010 GSAT-4
Solar Dynamics Observatory 1.jpg Solar Dynamics Observatory
2011 PIA16239 High-Resolution Self-Portrait by Curiosity Rover Arm Camera.jpg Curiosity rover The Curiosity Rover uses a pair of identical on-board computers called Rover Computer Element (RCE), each with RAD750 CPU capable of 400 MIPS.
2012 Morpheus just after ignition.jpg Project Morpheus
2015 Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR).jpg Triana