Feeds

Atlantis computer goes down: Fixed by 'nauts

Space pilots turn hands to a bit of zero-G sysadmin work

Application security programs and practises

Commander Chris Ferguson and pilot Doug Hurley have fixed space shuttle Atlantis' General Purpose Computer (GPC) 4, which clapped out last night requiring transfer of its duties to another of the shuttle's quintet of GPCs.

The pair have reloaded software into the unit and it has "been added to the common set of GPCs and is operating normally, processing data".

NASA elaborates: "Mission Control is evaluating the 'dump' of data from the computer that Atlantis transmitted earlier this morning to determine what caused the Thursday evening failure. GPCs 1, 2 & 4 are in 'run' and GPC 3 is in 'standby'. All four of the primary computers are processing data."

A space shuttle GPC. Pic: NASAThe agency describes the GPC (pictured) as "slow" and packing "little memory compared to modern home computers", specifically "a storage capacity of one megabyte". It "runs at a speed of 1.4 million instructions per second". However, NASA does quite reasonably note that "no one straps the latest-and-greatest desktop computer inside a machine that vibrates like an old truck on a washboard road while requiring it to get a spacecraft into orbit and back safely".

The GPCs' software is similarly lean and robust. NASA says: "The shuttle's primary flight software contains about 400,000 lines of code. For comparison, a Windows operating system package includes millions of lines of source code."

This modest package processes data from the shuttle's "myriad sensors" via 24 input/output links, subjecting them to "elaborate mathematical algorithms to determine when to swivel the three main engines during launch, how much to move the elevons on the wings for landing, and which thrusters to fire in space to set up a rendezvous with the International Space Station, for example".

NASA has lots more on the GPCs here. The latest from Atlantis' STS-135 mission is here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.