Feeds

Computer error triggers mass rocket launch

Rise of the machines thwarted ... for now

High performance access to file storage

Americans love their fireworks on Independence Day, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. That's what spectators got on July 4 in San Diego, California, when an errant computer triggered every rocket in the city's annual display to launch at once.

The pyrotechnics were meant to last 18 minutes. Instead, the whole show was over in roughly 15 seconds, after a deafening display that saw all five launch sites blast their missiles into the air simultaneously.

"We apologize for the brevity of the show," the Port of San Diego said in an understatement statement. "Approximately five minutes before the show was to start, a signal was sent to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction." Although the signal had tested properly earlier, at showtime it triggered the mass launch.

The show was organized by New Jersey-based Garden State Fireworks, which has previously organized Independence Day fireworks displays for New York City and Washington, DC, among other high-profile shows. None had resulted in San Diego's simultaneous pyrogasm.

"There was a malfunction of the firing systems which ignite the fireworks," Garden State Fireworks co-owner August Santore said in an interview with NBC San Diego. "They were scheduled to be programmed for 15-16 minutes, and somehow, some sort of virus must have got into the program."

Although the company has yet to determine the exact nature of the glitch that caused the massive detonation, Santore claims it was definitely due to a software error in the computerized firing systems that ignite the fireworks.

"There was no malfunction in the pyrotechnics, nor was there any human error," Santore told NBC. "It was strictly a program glitch. Something happened in the program, which we're working vigorously to pinpoint."

Despite the malfunctioning system's best efforts, no casualties were reported. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.