Delkin’s Rugged Storage Fits the Bill for Nanosatellites
If you think that your application requires rugged storage devices, imagine how reliable an embedded memory solution has to be to survive a trip to space. That extreme environment is exactly what one Delkin customer was facing. Pumpkin Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that has been making cutting-edge products for the space industry since 2000 including nanosatellites. The products that they make are launched into orbit aboard space satellite stations, which means that they must withstand intense atmospheric conditions, including extreme heat, cold, shock, and vibration. The only storage devices that Pumpkin trusts with this challenging task are industrial SD cards from Delkin.
Spotlight on Industrial Storage
When selecting storage to be used in rugged operating conditions, it is important to choose a device that can withstand those conditions without compromising the integrity of the data. For most users, this means choosing storage that is industrial grade. Industrial grade memory is typically designed with single-level cell, or SLC NAND flash. With this kind of flash memory, only one bit of data is stored per cell. SLC NAND cell configurations have several advantages over NAND cells storing multiple bits of data per cell.
When only one bit of data is stored on each cell, it is much less likely that an error that could interfere with read or write operations will occur. Because fewer actions are required for each operation when one bit of data is stored per cell, the lifespan of the flash storage is much longer than that of other NAND cell architectures and the reliability of the data stored in that single bit is considerably improved. Longevity and reliability of the storage device is a critical factor for the space industry, since swapping out a memory device that is housed on a satellite or nanosatellites in space is impractical and expensive—when it is possible at all.
A longer product lifecycle for an industrial storage device is enhanced by another unique feature: a locked BOM. With a locked BOM, or bill of materials, Delkin will not change any critical component within the storage device, from the firmware to the controller, without first issuing a new product number and providing advanced notification to clients. A locked BOM is another critical requirement that industrial storage customers consider when choosing the right partner to meet their memory needs.
Pumpkin, Delkin, and Industrial SD Cards in Space
Since Pumpkin launched in 2000, they have been using Delkin’s SD cards in their products to help revolutionize the space industry. Pumpkin was the first company to build Nanosatellites—or Nanosats, as they are frequently called—for the commercial market. This class of space craft, which weighs up to 10 kilograms, has become enormously popular in the industry. Since 2002, Pumpkin has sold hundreds of Nanosatellites with many different designs to meet the needs of their end consumers. These Nanosats are also called COTS satellites, or commercial, off-the-shelf satellites. In addition to COTS satellites, Pumpkin is now focused on selling fully customized commercial space craft as ready-to-launch, turnkey solutions for customers.
The flight computers on each of Pumpkin’s COTS satellites and customized models feature a slot for an SD card. The only card that Pumpkin ships with their products—and the only card they have ever shipped—is the Delkin industrial SD card with an extended temperature range. Pumpkin also has designs with multiple SD card slots, and these systems are shipped to customers with a minimum of two Delkin SD cards.
According to Dr. Andrew Kalman, Pumpkin’s CEO/CTO, the reason for using multiple cards is because redundant systems are standard in the space industry. This is true even when adequate storage can be provided through a single memory card. Although early commercial satellites had storage constraints of 2GB with low-power microcontrollers, today’s versions are capable of much more. Having two SD slots with at least two cards means that a backup system is in place in the event that the harsh environment in space does cause problems with one of the systems. One card acts as the primary storage system, while the other is in place as a backup. According to Dr. Kalman, other than measures used to ensure that the cards stay in place, there are no other special efforts that are necessary to ensure the cards work. For Pumpkin, this is just one of the advantages of using SD cards from Delkin in their space products.
Exploring Pumpkin’s Product Lines Featuring Delkin Storage
Pumpkin’s products reach a number of different industries, including national defense, education, the arts, science, and entertainment. A few examples of Pumpkin products that contain industrial SD cards from Delkin include:
- Overview 1, a satellite created for Space VR, designed to take video from orbit for virtual reality systems.
- The University of New South Wales’ Buccaneer satellite, which is used by the Australian university both for educational and experimental purposes.
- SUPERNOVA, a satellite designed for the US Navy via the Rapid Innovation Fund Program, which was then qualified for flight via the Air Force Institute of Technology. This satellite tests the effects of space on memory through hot and cold cycling while reading and writing to storage continuously. SUPERNOVA features encrypted communications, including NSA-certified hardware, with all of the systems of the satellite vetted by security experts. Delkin’s SD cards pass this difficult scrutiny which provides the upmost confidence in Pumpkin’s decision to partner with Delkin.
Delkin provides the storage in these on-going Pumpkin products and we will stand alongside Pumpkin with their new products as they look forward to meet the demands of the rapidly advancing commercial electronics industry. The commercial side of the Nanosat industry is evolving faster than the traditional, non-commercial sector. Pumpkin’s open-source, cost-effective COTS satellites with Delkin’s SD cards are a large reason why.
At Delkin, we understand that consumers have a wide range of options when they are looking for an SD card provider.Customers turn to us when they need something more than an off-the-shelf solution. Delkin’s customers have complicated systems utilized in sophisticated applications and need the support of a true partner who can help them find the most reliable storage solutions for their needs. Delkin understands that Pumpkin and similar customers require SD cards offering device reliability and longevity but also rely on the product stability and continuity of supply provided by our ability to offer a locked BOM.
If you need industrial flash storage solutions for your device, contact the Delkin Support Team to see how we can help you.
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