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Did You Know? The Space Shuttle Runs On Only One Megabyte Of RAM!

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posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 11:15 PM
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Did You Know? The Space Shuttle Runs On Only One Megabyte Of RAM!


astroblog.cosmobc.com

It’s true! NASA’s space shuttle is controlled by a computer running on only one megabyte of RAM. How is this possible? Since the space shuttle and all its hardware is over 30 years old, so is its computer. The current computer is actually an upgraded version of the 500-kilobyte computer that was used until 1991, but still based on the same outdated technology from the 1980s.
(visit the link for the full news article)




posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 11:15 PM
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I found this to be a not so dreary, yet interesting little article that was relevant to ATS, since the shuttle is going up in just a few short days.

I like the thinking behind not upgrading the hardware, but I do believe that NASA should consider building a completely new system for a front end, glass cockpit, as well as tearing out some of the old plumbing and wiring in favor of lighter materials and more energy efficient electronics.





astroblog.cosmobc.com
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 11:19 PM
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Originally posted by HappyfeetI like the thinking behind not upgrading the hardware, but I do believe that NASA should consider building a completely new system for a front end, glass cockpit, as well as tearing out some of the old plumbing and wiring in favor of lighter materials and more energy efficient electronics.


Some upgrades to efficiency would be nice but I doubt NASA wants to pay the extra money to do it. :/
--

The news doesn't surprise me as it runs like any other operating vehicle and most of the computer systems are back down on Earth.



posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 11:39 PM
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Less computer software in the air is less things that can go wrong... So I can agree with that. The actual shuttles however should be scrapped, broken up, jumped on and forgotten. Its about damn time we build new ones. Just sell an F22 or two on the black market to fund it



posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 11:41 PM
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That...is..incredible.

My cell phone has more capabilities than the space shuttle


I wonder if creating a DGIV space-craft would be feasible or even possible with our current technology. Its a fictitious ship in an space simulator called Orbiter which could bring up to 5 people up into orbit, and even the moon if you calculate it right.

orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk..." target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow">Orbiter space flight sim

Has all the capabilities of the shuttle and then some, too bad its not real



posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 11:54 PM
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Could you imagine the Space Shuttle running on Windows 7?



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:02 AM
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Makes you wonder what their funding is even going to.

More and more I think NASA is just a front for all kinds of stuff the general public isn't in on.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:07 AM
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Can you imagine what the G Forces would do to a standard hard drive.
both the spinning disk and the pickup arm.


Plus you have cosmic rays that are known for corrupting electronics.
this includes ram



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:09 AM
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1 megabyte doesn't sound like much, but you have to consider, they probably do not need more...

there is not much that you can do on a modern computer that you couldn't do with a 1980 IBM...

it just looks prettier...



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:14 AM
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This is where the misconception of computing power comes into play.

Just because the capability to push speeds to gigabytes and have massive amounts of data storage are readily available, doesn't mean they are needed.

The shuttle runs on 1mb of ram, a modern day airport surveillance radar that you see at airports runs basically on a 2.16 MHz processor with as little as 512K of ram.

You would be surprised at how little computing power is in some of our most advanced applications and technologies.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:19 AM
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Yep, NASA bought CPUs on ebay in 2002 because Intel couldn't deliver them anymore...

The specs of the processor :

Intel 8086
1 Mo maximum of ram compared to today in the 6 GIG to hundreds of GIGS for servers...
4.77 mhz to 10 mhz compared to today world records of 7.2 GHZ...
Made in 3000nm, compared to today 45 and 32nm...
And it had only 29 000 transistors, compared to today chips that have over 2-3 billions...

Quite the improvement!


[edit on 30-3-2010 by Vitchilo]



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:22 AM
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Originally posted by ANNED
Can you imagine what the G Forces would do to a standard hard drive.
both the spinning disk and the pickup arm.

Plus you have cosmic rays that are known for corrupting electronics.
this includes ram


I don't think G forces would have an effect on the circuitry, but that's a good point about the cosmic radiation that I never thought about. They wouldn't be able to put a standard hard drive in there at all for EM radiation in space, which is the same thing that creates the aurora here on Earth because our atmosphere offers some protection against it.


I wonder what the frequency (Hz) of this thing is, because most processors use 1V to represent "on" or "1" in binary and 0V to represent "off" or "0" in binary, and that 1-volt threshold between on and off is relatively small. Flying through EM radiation in space could create wide fluctuations in the voltages across a chip and cause all kinds of errors and nonsense code, if not permanently fry the circuit.

If this thing has a lower frequency, that could mean a larger threshold, say 0V for "off" and 5V or 10V, etc. for "on." It would take more time for the charge reach that voltage and so would have slower operation overall, but it would be harder for radiation to play havoc on the chips. But that could also require a special chip that would be unique to NASA.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:27 AM
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reply to post by Happyfeet
 




It’s true! NASA’s space shuttle is controlled by a computer running on only one megabyte of RAM. How is this possible? Since the space shuttle and all its hardware is over 30 years old, so is its computer. The current computer is actually an upgraded version of the 500-kilobyte computer that was used until 1991, but still based on the same outdated technology from the 1980s.


It's amazing how people post a BS like that, expecting the others will believe.
Yeah yeah NASA let a US$1.5 billion cost launching and the life of its crew, under the control of an 1mb RAM computer...

BTW the link provided about this article, does NOT have ANY reference, any data source related to NASA. This thread is another 60 seconds time wasted, none will give back.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:30 AM
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Originally posted by Vitchilo
The specs of the processor :

Intel 8086
1 Mo maximum of ram compared to today in the 6 GIG to hundreds of GIGS for servers...
4.77 mhz to 10 mhz compared to today world records of 7.2 GHZ...
Made in 3000nm, compared to today 45 and 32nm...
And it had only 29 000 transistors, compared to today chips that have over 2-3 billions...


If this is what they intend on sending into space, unless there's something about space shuttles shielding EM energy that I'm unaware of, that thing is not going to function well if at all, if it encounters significant EM fluctuations in space.

I would love to talk with one of NASA's electronics engineers.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:39 AM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:46 AM
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reply to post by ucalien
 


Yeah, a bogus article would explain what I posted above...

The joke was so appropriate, I didn't even doubt it.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:53 AM
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Unfortunately, UCAlien, the article is completely true. You could discover this by googling, or generally using common sense.


Interestingly, NASA uses outdated computers for a very good reason: They are "hardened". The older the CPU is, the more resilient it is to the intrusion of cosmic radiation. Computers are sensitive things, and no matter how many backups you have, one wrong chip fried and you aren't coming home in one piece. That's why it buys them in bulk off ebay, cheap and pre-hardened just as they need them.

But lets be honest here, all the comments about "haha, what's NASA spending billions on then?" are just trolling junk in any case. I'd like you to sit down and budget for the maintenance of the most complex aerospace craft ever created by man, and have it come out cheaply.

So yes, the Shuttle runs on computers from the 80's. It was built in the 80's, all it's systems were integrated in the 80's, the cost to upgrade to a modern computer (useless, I might add, for the things the shuttle needs to do) would be astronomical.

What, do you expect them to be playing WoW on the shuttle while taking off? All it needs is a very smart calculator to control the engines and etc. A computer from 30 years ago is more than sufficient to the task and, as I pointed out, hardened to prevent catastrophic failure.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 01:28 AM
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Looks like it might be true.

I Googled up some stuff thinking I'd find some specifications for the shuttle that came from a more reputable source stating that in reality the Shuttle had more RAM, but I was wrong.

Popular Science did a story on the subject.
www.popsci.com...



It’s true: The brain of NASA’s primary vehicle has the computational power of an IBM 5150, that ’80s icon that goes for $20 at yard sales. According to NASA and IBM, the shuttle’s General Purpose Computer (GPC)—which controls, among other things, the entire launch sequence—is an upgrade of the 500-kilobyte computer the shuttle flew with until 1991.

Such an antiquated computer works just fine for NASA. The shuttle doesn’t need to support a powerful graphics engine or create PowerPoint presentations or store MP3s. It focuses entirely on raw functions—thrusters on, thrusters off—which, though mathematically complex, don’t require the juice that a user interface like Windows calls for. The GPC has flown so many missions with hardly a hiccup that there’s no reason to replace it, even if it is just 0.005 percent as powerful as an Xbox 360. Besides, a complete overhaul would be horrendously expensive. The GPC’s software would have to be completely reconfigured for a modern computer and tested until proven flawless.


Edit for clarity.

[edit on 30-3-2010 by LazyGuy]



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 01:56 AM
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This is very true. The original flight software for the Space Shuttle was only 500 kilobytes. This was later extended to 700 kilobytes to account for some built in error handling. I believe it was around 1991 that they upgraded the computers.

Computers such as these systems are called "Safety Critical" systems, and as such they undergo some of the most scrutiny there is in the software engineering development process.

Safety Critical systems are those such that if the software fails, people could be killed. (This is really called Primary safety critical software because if it fails, it can directly kill someone. There are also Secondary Safety critical systems which if they fail, usually in some manufacturing process, then the item which was manufactured improperly could then kill someone)

Safety critical systems such as these are very very streamlined, and are manufactured with a very specific set of instructions. Therefor they tend to actually be very small and very efficient. Seeing an hour glass in a safety critical system can kill. There can be no such lag or other such waiting when dealing with safety critical systems.

The computers in the shuttle were designed with this very thought in mind. Only the essential instructions which are needed in order to fulfill the missions are placed in the system.

If you think one megabyte of ram is small, the soviets shuttle uses somewhere on the order of just five or six kilobytes of ram.


If it isn't broke, don't fix it.


And oh yeah, UCAlien...

Just who the hell do you think you are to ruin threads like this with your uninformed banter? If you do not believe something, or wish to debate something, DO SOME DAMN RESEARCH!

You have made yourself look like a complete fool, and this isn't the first time I have seen you do something like this. Do the research first before claiming you are all knowing and telling others not to listen to an original poster.

Deny Ignorance indeed.

Good day sir.

[edit on 30-3-2010 by xmaddness]



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 02:01 AM
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Originally posted by Happyfeet
I like the thinking behind not upgrading the hardware, but I do believe that NASA should consider building a completely new system for a front end, glass cockpit, as well as tearing out some of the old plumbing and wiring in favor of lighter materials and more energy efficient electronics.


You may not realize this but the shuttles are making their last flights this year (possibly one pushed into early 2011 but that will be the last one) so they won't and shouldn't spend any money on them beyond what's required for a safe last flight.

It's quite amazing how far computers have come in 30 years.

But it's also quite sad that we have no replacement for the shuttle after this year. Other countries besides the USA are going to have to re-supply the ISS.



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