Feeds

Computer error triggers mass rocket launch

Rise of the machines thwarted ... for now

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.