Shuttle problem brings back Y2K memories

November 08, 2006 5:18 PM EST
Remember the old joke about the man who takes a train because he was afraid of flying, only to have a plane fall on it?  Well, people who were freaked out about Y2K the first time around may want to go back to their bunkers for fear that the space shuttle lands on them. A story in New Scientist says that NASA is worried that 3-year-old software on the space shuttle could lose track of the correct date at year end due to a date rollover glitch.

The remedy, reinitializing the computer, would temporarily suspend navigational control over the craft - a bad thing when the shuttle is on a mission. That issue has the space agency recheduling a trip earlier in the month of December than previously planned. According to the story, Y2K-like fears create shuttle scheduling crunch,  the shuttle's software has a "year-end rollover problem" similar to problems many programmers faced with the Y2K challenge six years ago.

Unfortunately for NASA, the software on the shuttle apparently experiences the problem at the end of every year, not just at the millennium.