Our intrepid Insight editor, Andrew Donoghue, has been out and about talking to spacemen. Well, Star Commander Pat Norris, one of the blokes behind Logica's Space And Defence division, who had a hand in the unfortunate Beagle and is also busy with the better starred Galileo. That's the European satellite navigation system, designed to work with -- and in competition with -- the American GPS service.
The Americans aren't sure about this. They may have come in peace for all mankind, but that was the hippy sixties. Now it's the terror two thousands and Uncle Sam's thoughts are more about Total Spectrum Domination, which as you may gather is slightly less inclusive. You can't Totally Dominate if someone else has got stuff up there as good as you -- but the nervous nancies have been placated with promises of cooperation. That and their program of space weapons that'll blow up anything in orbit they don't like.
Let's hope SCO doesn't get involved in the guidance systems, for as Galactic General Norris says there's no reason why Galileo couldn't use open source. Now, I'm not sure that the overlap between open-source developers and Star Trek fans is exactly 100 percent, but it's always been a fact that the Starship Enterprise runs on some derivative of Unix -- a fact so obvious that it never needed to be mentioned in the script. This could be one of the first steps towards realising that future: grab that GCC compiler, my children, and reach for the stars!