Feeds

Year-end computer bug could ground Shuttle

Must take off on time

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The pressure is on at NASA to launch the next Shuttle mission on time, because if the launch date slips past December 18, a computer bug could keep the twelve-day mission grounded until January next year.

The Shuttle was never expected to be in orbit as one year gives way to another, so the computers aren't set up to switch to a new "Day One". To the Shuttle, January 1 is just day 366.

"The shuttle computers were never envisioned to fly through a year-end changeover," space shuttle program manager Wayne Hale explained.

In itself, this wouldn't be a problem, but the computers on the ground work differently, and losing synch with mission control would probably be a Bad Thing.

The onboard computer could be reset, but this would mean that the Shuttle would be flying blind, without navigation updates or vehicle control. Although simulations of the date switch have gone well, understandably, NASA would prefer to avoid this scenario in the real world.

Hale says he thinks a launch in December is likely, though, because the weather in Florida tends to be "more benign" in December, lessening the chances of lightning or hurricane induced delays.

Currently the Shuttle is set to launch on December 7, but NASA says it might move the launch date up to December 6. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?