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Press Release

NNSA System Installed on International Space Station Shows Promising Future for Space-Based Nonproliferation Technology
Jul 11, 2011

SEUXSE II, installed on the International Space Station, measures effects of space radiation on supercomputer components



WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that recent test results show its second Single Event Upset Xilinx-Sandia Experiment (SEUXSE II – pronounced "Suzie Two") package is very resistant to a severe space radiation environment, providing a revolutionary level of performance, reduced costs, and greater flexibility for NNSA’s treaty monitoring mission.
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SEUXSE II is a second generation experiment that has enabled NNSA's Office of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development, through the use of expertise at NNSA’s Sandia National Laboratories, to investigate the effects of space radiation on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) supercomputer components for possible use in space-based treaty monitoring technology.

“The test results we’ve seen from SEUXSE II are critical to developing the kind of technologies we need to prevent nuclear proliferation," said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “This research is a vital investment in our ability to detect, localize, and analyze the global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ensure treaty compliance in the future.”

Materials International Space Station Experiment-8 (MISSE-8), which includes SEUXSE II, was launched on NASA’s space shuttle Endeavor on May 16, 2011. NASA astronauts installed MISSE-8 on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) on May 20, 2011, and SEUXSE II became operational one week later.

The new SEUXSE II experiment replaced the SEUXSE I, which operated successfully for one and a half years on the ISS to detect and characterize Single Event Upsets caused by cosmic rays in the radiation tolerant Virtex-4 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The experiment is the first space flight of industrial partner Xilinx’s latest radiation-hardened, on-orbit reconfigurable FPGA, the Virtex-5.

Using the unique facilities and scientific skills of NNSA and Department of Energy national laboratories, and in partnership with industry and academia, NNSA's Office of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development efforts provide the technical base for national and homeland security agencies to meet their nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and counterterrorism responsibilities.

For photos of SEUXSE II, click here.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.