NASA Satellites Orbit Past Year 2000 Problem : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Looks like NASA has things well in hand. Let's hope that final 1% isn't like the FAA's.


Silly Earthlings, NASA satellites don't run on your weak Year 2000-hobbled date system! That's the message the House Science Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology heard today as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other federal agencies showed how they are handling the Year 2000 problem when it comes to big metal objects orbiting in the sky.

"Satellite timers do not keep track of calendar dates, so there are no date-dependent elements provided in most satellite or spacecraft hardware," NASA said.

The Defense Department testified, however, that the 28 global positioning systems (GPS) satellites could be affected somewhat by the Year 2000 problem, and also by the leap year in 2000.

The mission-critical GPS satellites are Year 2000-compliant, the Defense Department said, though some telemetry monitoring systems are still in the process of being corrected. The offline satellite data analysis system is not yet compliant.

Just because NASA's satellites are not subject to Year 2000-related breakdowns, however, NASA Chief Information Officer Lee B. Holcomb said the agency still has conducted end-to-end testing of all its other systems that can be crippled by the date change.

Holcomb said the agency reached 99 percent compliance by Apr. 30, about a month after the government-mandated deadline date. He said that there is one so-called mission-critical system that will be retired in August, as well as one other essential system that will be ready by June.

"Meeting the government-wide goals for Y2K work has required the most extensive top-down and bottom-up review of the agency's information technology assets supporting missions, systems and common infrastructure and facilities undertaken to date," Holcomb said. "No significant agency asset has been untouched - we have tested and remediated (where necessary) our ground control systems, flight hardware and software supporting human and robotic programs, mission operations support systems, common infrastructure systems and institutional systems."

Holcomb said that 158 essential and 350 non-essential systems have been updated; that 6,000 supercomputing, mainframe, midrange, desktop and network repairs were made; 52,000 workstations and servers were tested; in-flight software and hardware was tested; and the entire research and development infrastructure was updated.

Some NASA satellites do contain time-related functions on their onboard flight software, but they are clock counters based on the beginning of the products' lives in their current function, not based on the calendar.

Reported by Newsbytes News Network, .


-- regular (zzz@z.z), May 12, 1999


These days there seems to be a problem getting more of these compliant satellites in orbit.

-- Mike Lang (, May 12, 1999.

Good news - Flint - if you see this - this is what I meant by a complete report with enought information to begin to feel confident that the speaker at least knew enough to count his systems, count what needed repairs, count what was left to do.

A few minor things - the earth stations will require reliable power, water, phones, and control stations and HVAC to stay "up" - and reliable "connections" cross-country to keep the right data flowing.

It is a good report. Non-NASA satellites anybody? Non-NASA, non-military? Other countries?

Note that they found out that 6,000 system-level repairs were needed - in all parts of the programming environment, PC's to Cray's. So the company's that expect to fix-on-failure only have to figure out which 6000 are going to fail, and concentrate only on those.


-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, May 13, 1999.

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