Feeds

Atlantis computer goes down: Fixed by 'nauts

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

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Who wants to be there as history is made at the launch of our LOHAN space project?
Two places available in the chase plane above the desert
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.