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View Full Version : re NASA just taking the piss?


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!
27th Nov 2006, 13:01
I just heard on the radio they're preparing to launch a shuttle on December 17th. They want to do it then because they have a fairly tight launch window - not because they're chansing a comet or because they need to land on an asteroid, but because they don't want to be in orbit on New Year's Day ...

... because they don't think the computers can handle the switch from 2006 to 2007 :confused:

wtf?

Sounds more like MMVI to MMVII :hmm:


Anyway, they HAVE to be kidding right? I reckon they just have a fantastic New Year's Eve party planned and they don't want to spoil it by making everyone be on duty.

Grainger
27th Nov 2006, 13:03
Perhaps they want to mark the Wright Brothers' 103rd Anniversary ?

tony draper
27th Nov 2006, 13:16
I read that the Shuttle still uses the ancient Intel 386 CPU's in the onboard computers and they weren't upgraded because the physical size of the CPU(ie the density of transistors,275,000 in the 386) makes it less vunerable to damage by cosmic rays solar particles ect than the later one's 486,S Pentiums and such.
NASA int daft yer know.
:rolleyes:

ORAC
27th Nov 2006, 13:16
Spaceflight Now:

.....When the shuttle's flight control software was developed in the 1970s, NASA managers did not envision the possibility of flying missions during the transition from one year to the next. Internal clocks, instead of rolling over to Jan. 1, 2007, would simply keep counting up, putting them at odds with navigation systems on the ground.

"It's an interesting problem because if you remember a few years ago, we went through the Y2K change and there was a lot of concern about what computers would do," Hale told reporters earlier this week. "The interesting thing about the shuttle computers and the ground computers that support the shuttle is they were never envisioned to fly through a year-end change over. So the shuttle computers actually keep counting and they believe it's day 366 instead of day 1 of the year."

"That sounds rather trivial, but the fact of the matter is to keep the navigation in synch with the rest of the world, which has changed from day 365 to day 1, you've got to make that change appropriately and it was never designed in."

Space station software, on the other hand, was designed from the ground up to handle year-end rollovers and in the wake of the 2003 Columbia disaster, engineers re-evaluated the shuttle's software to make sure an emergency rescue mission, if needed, could safely fly across a new year.

"We had certified that for contingency use in the sense that if we ever had to fly a launch-on-need rescue mission and it happened to cross a year-end rollover, it would work," Hale said. "So we did quite a bit of testing on the software at that point. But there is a different level of testing that you need to do when you want to execute a procedure like that for a normal, planned, not contingency kind of operation."

"In April, we asked the team to go off and do that work. There had been a series of problems with that work and it turns out while we feel confident that it would work if we had to use it, we did not get the normal amount of testing and a normal amount of runtime on what are some very complicated procedures, both on the ground and with the crew to keep everything in synch across the end of the year."

"So right now, coming out of a review last week, it looks like we will not try to execute the flight over the year end," Hale said. "We're going to review that at the flight readiness review, so I would not call it a hard constraint at this time but rather a recommendation to take forward."

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!
27th Nov 2006, 13:19
I can see it now, they set off on dec 17th, get delayed somehow and return on Jan 1st ...

...except when they look at the newspaper, it's December 6th 1941 . . .

ORAC
27th Nov 2006, 13:34
I thought they figured out something was wrong when they ran across all those talking monkeys........

Gael Warning
27th Nov 2006, 13:57
Well at least NASA will be able to claim they have time travel cracked!!

Farmer 1
27th Nov 2006, 14:40
You have to hand it to them, though. Good, original excuse.

"Sorry, I can't work over New Year because, er, I don't know how to operate the calendar thingie."

"What do you mean? It's hardly rocket science, is it?"

Wiley
27th Nov 2006, 15:41
Having just received my December roster, I think I might run that one past my Flt Ops Department.

... then again, maybe not.

Loose rivets
28th Nov 2006, 04:50
I read that the Shuttle still uses the ancient Intel 386 CPU's in the onboard computers and they weren't upgraded because the physical size of the CPU(ie the density of transistors,275,000 in the 386) makes it less vunerable to damage by cosmic rays solar particles ect than the later one's 486,S Pentiums and such.
NASA int daft yer know.
:rolleyes:

Yes, one remembers the kerfuffle when valve (tube) radios were found the the er, Firefox?? or is that my browser? Anyway, 'twas all part of a cunning plan.


When intel was making the 80XXX chips, a micron cut was but a dream. then came the FSL's chip if I'm not mistaken...well, at least the last ones. Pentium Pros, with 5.1 million devices in one encapsulation...if you count the cache. Now it's got a whole lot skinnier....mastering X-rays for the cut was good enough, but fine focus X-rays...'be knocking out indevidual molecules soon. An yes, they will be very very difficult to shield from Mr Sol.:\

Blacksheep
28th Nov 2006, 05:32
This being an aeronautical website, I think it safe to reveal that the on-board electronics of the world's aeroplanes use old technology chips with everything. Its a certification thing, to use proven technology and never to be on the cutting edge.

The pilots of a transcontinental Boeing may have 1,000 songs in the four gigabyte memory of their iPod Nano's but the FMCs still soldier on with an ancient (in digital terms) one megabyte database. I remember all the angst and worried handwringing among we avionics people when Honeywell upgraded from the 276 kilobyte database back in the nineties. If all the songs vanish in a puff of digital mystery it doesn't really matter a lot, but having to navigate manually when you don't have a chart table and there's no periscopic sextant or even a slide rule to hand, is a bit much.

Thinks... Maybe there's good reason for pilots to wear those huge Navitimer watches with the complicated navigational computer on the bezels. But how many could use one in emergency?

West Coast
28th Nov 2006, 05:35
"because they don't want to be in orbit on New Year's Day"

NASA would have to pay time and a half if they worked the holiday.

Rollingthunder
28th Nov 2006, 05:47
Naw, it's double-time plus a day off in the future and a paid meal.

West Coast
28th Nov 2006, 07:06
Jeez, good work if you can get it. Wish thier admin would talk to mine and get them onboard with the double time thing.

B Fraser
29th Nov 2006, 08:02
Well at least NASA will be able to claim they have time travel cracked!!


I bought a time machine but it has developed a fault. This is rather puzzling as it worked perfectly well tomorrow. ;)