SpaceX engineers have explained in a reddit post that if you use an Android phone, you are probably unknowingly familiar with code that makes SpaceX rockets fly. SpaceX rockets actually mimic technology that millions of users use everyday on their Android devices, including Chromium and a Linux based operating system. The historic Demo 2 launch, which happened just a few days back on one of the most advanced spaceships in human history, and was powered by technology that exists in your smartphone.
Now, we are all familiar with the straight-out-of-sci-fi Crew Dragon touch screen panel that has garnered so much acclaim from people all over the globe. That touch screen panel employs Chromium, Google’s open-source foundation for the Chrome web browser.
“We liked all the modern features that comes with browsers out of the box,” said Sofian Hnaide, a developer who worked on the Crew Dragon display technology. This also gave SpaceX the opportunity to hire developers who are already familiar with the type of programming involved.
Moreover, the panel operates on a Linux based operating system, which is ubiquitous in tech companies and even among average PC users. While the company uses a variant of the OS that is local only to itself, and is compatible with the hardware, it is still based on the same Linux we all know and love, which is very cool when you think about it. Moreover, everything is coded in C++, a very common programming language. Even the Starlink constellation of satellites uses a Linux based system. Thus, if you have ever typed the C++ “Hello World” program on a Linux based OS, you have made the first step towards your own space journey.
Also, the system on board receives constant updates, just like our Android devices. If that isn’t enough to draw a parallel, how about a week long hackathon for astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley before they boarded the Demo 2 spacecraft?
All this is an ode to how far we have come in terms of technology, so much so that we have “space technology” in the palm of our hands.