Feeds

Atlantis computer goes down: Fixed by 'nauts

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

Seven Steps to Software Security

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. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.