NASA Selects OSE RTOS for Autonomous, Resilient Flight Control System

12/13/2002 - OSE Systems, Inc. (OSE), announced that the OSE real-time operating system (RTOS) has been chosen by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility to develop a state-of-the-art adaptive flight control system. To achieve autonomous, resilient flight control, the system will perform mission planning and management functions, incorporate built-in test and fault-detection algorithms, perform primary flight control functions as well as respond to faults and aberrant conditions. A small UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) will be used as an engineering test-bed and is itself designed with a robust, resilient architecture.

"NASA's primary concern is to build a highly reliable flight control system. The flight manager needs to identify and make immediate adjustments for problems in the control links or for other conditions such as wind gusts," said Philip Ward, Guidance, Navigation and Control Systems engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. "The successful completion of a mission depends on the ability to intelligently evaluate current conditions and make adjustments as needed."

“OSE understands safety-critical systems such as NASA’s unmanned aerial vehicles where the loss of the telemetry link cannot precipitate loss of aircraft or mission,” states Vance Hilderman, vice president of US operations, OSE Systems, Inc., North America. “We are proud that NASA has recognized the mission-critical experience OSE brings to the table.”

Flight Control and Flight Management Approach
Designed for high-reliability and fault-tolerant conditions, the OSE RTOS provides the distributed, multicore organization needed for this sophisticated flight-control matrix. A series of control algorithms provide redundant commands to two Motorola PowerPC flight computers that ensure safe preflight automated tests, autonomous take-off, control of mission and landing, fully organized via a series of layers. The first layer, providing servo deflections based on sensed altitude, speed and attitude errors, and second layer, involving relative location and speed with respect to desired waypoints, are monitored by a third that checks status of the two control loops, mission progress, fuel load and other pertinent sensor data. A fuzzy inference system detects anomalous conditions and makes adjustments.

Flight Computer Hardware and RTOS Architecture
High reliability is central to the design of this autonomous flight control system. The OSE RTOS hosts the flight software on two PowerPC flight computers in a PC/104 footprint. The OSE Link Handler together with the Altera Programmable Logic Device will cross-strap the redundant servo command signals from the two computers to provide a highly reliable, fault-resistant environment.

About NASA
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, is a test site for aerospace technology experiments and supports scientific research through carrier systems and mission services, all with an intrinsic education component. For more information on NASA Wallops Flight Facility, visit:

About OSE Systems
OSE Systems, Inc. is the technological leader of real-time operating systems software and services for the communications market. OSE is also used in safety-critical, high-availability, distributed and fault-tolerant applications such as avionics and industrial control. Customers include industry leaders such as Ericsson, Lockheed Martin, Samsung, Agere Systems, Sony and Boeing. OSE is a subsidiary of Enea Data (SAXESS: ENEA). Enea markets and sells services, products and training in specialized technical arenas, including real-time application development and support for embedded systems as well as IT and e-business solutions. Located in Stockholm, Sweden, Enea employs approximately 700 people worldwide. For more information on OSE, please visit For more information on Enea please visit

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