Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 25/04/01You want mission critical? You want 24/7 with a vengeance?

25/04/01 You want mission critical? You want 24/7 with a vengeance? Try the International Space Station. As reported previously, while the station's physical infrastructure is mostly going well the computer side has been having its problems. Although it's hard to say for sure - unlike previous NASA missions, ISS operations are not as open as they could be - it looks like those are going from bad to worse. This time, all three of the triple-redundant main computers went down and stayed there. If the Shuttle (running older systems) hadn't been docked then communication would have been lost, apart from some rather rattly old Russian links and the amateur radio systems onboard. So far, fixing the computers appears to have taken the form of uploading a small program that, ahem, turns them off and on to reboot them. Why control-alt-delete won't work in space, I don't know. These are problems NASA could do without. As well as meaning the Shuttle has to overstay at the station at the exact time that the awkward Dennis Tito, Space Tourist, is due to arrive by Russian space ferry, the organisation is currently going through asking the new boys in government for their annual round of dosh. One doesn't know whether it's Windows or Solaris at the bottom of the recalcitrant computers, but as soon as the story clarifies... well, watch this space.