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Macs In Space! 78

Clark writes " SpaceViews reports that the startup company SkyCorp will fly an Apple Macintosh G4 computer in an experimental satellite next year. It will be deployed from the space shuttle. The server will be accessed as the sat passes in range via wireless networking protocols, including a variant of Apple's existing AirPort wireless networking technology. The project, announced at the recent Silicon Valley Space Enterprise Symposium, is mainly intended as a test for Skycorp's plans to assemble and deploy satellites at the Space Station."
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Macs In Space!

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  • Neat, I'm so there.

  • Well done! we can all see that you've learned your href's.

    Now go and learn a new tag.
  • They went to Lucent to codevelop the new 11Mbit/sec version of Wavelan.
    Wavelan is an old proven technology and Apple wanted something they could trust and has a good track record.
    Lucent renamed Wavelan to Orinoco (or something) and is now selling the 11 Mbit/sec version in PC-CARD form for laptops.
    There are even drivers for Windows 2000.
  • Can someone sneak a dual-boot on there? Of course the wireless hardware might not work and you'd probably be stuck with FBDev, but you could run Apache and get slashdotted. ("Websever runnning on soler power!")
  • ... or else Intel will insist on covering up the shuttle with a large bag, and the extra heat generated will cook everyone and everything on re-entry.

    Stupid? Well, Intel got there first.

    Love and kisses,


    "Free Luna!"
  • i remember seeing some quicktime movie the features a mac in space. it automatically ejected a disk which could have gone on forever... guess that wont happen with the g4, because it has no floppy drive. but mine has a zip which auto ejects..
  • You are correct. It is not rad-hard and will experience Single Event Effects (SEE) and eventual lifetime problems (Total Ionizing Dose or TID induced). But the fact of the matter is that "Rad-hard" is not necessarily required to properly operate in space. All devices have radiation effects characteristics which are measurable. You would be surprised at how well commercial off the shelf (COTS) devices perform in space. Many devices have event rates for SEEs (bit upsets, processor hangs, etc.) on the order (average) of years per event...Not a big deal when you consider that software problems often cause bigger problems. For more information, visit www.innocon.com/rad_effects.html [innocon.com] or http://flick.gsfc.nasa.gov/radhome.htm [nasa.gov]
  • The PC603 was used on the Iridium constellation and has been a great technical success. The G4 is the PC750, correct?...It too has been considered for space applications for some time. I know measurements on the PC750 were made as far back as 1998 to determine the suitability of it for space use. The likely reason that it hasn't been put into space already is because many people in the aerospace industry are big time skeptics of COTS (commercial off the shelf) part. They believe all things commercial are crap. Which is definitely not true. It is difficult to get the kind of yields that commercial processes get without being incredibly high quality. And the truth of the matter is that except for radiation, there is not a big difference between ground and space electronics use. The vibration characteristics and thermal characteristics of use in a car are pretty demanding. And COTS parts have been demonstrated to work successfully in space with only simple protective concepts like current monitors (for single event latch-up) and EDAC (which has been used extensively even on the ground). The PC603 is just another example of this. The IDT3081 was a good example of a commercial microprocessor put into space with great success (Clementine).
  • This /has/ to be a hoax.

    You don't believe we have the technology to put a computer in a satellite? Christ, man, screw your head back on. Nobody ever said this was a "stock" Mac G4 either. They're just playing the PR game. 386's are all over satellites. So what?

    Satellites also generally spin to counter the temp. problems. Oh and they are covered in gold foil to reflect most of that IR radiation back out. The stuff inside stays at a nice even temperature.

    And as for your GPL code stuff, Debian has been used on the shuttle, and I would be very suprised if Russia didn't have any GPL programs running on systems up in Mir (probably for experiment control, etc)... and I'm also not so sure that there isn't a satellite somewhere that just might have a chunk of GPL software burned into its ROM. I mean, with as many satellites as are up there, the chances that there's *not* are pretty slim, IMO.

  • Yes, there are even Linux drivers [wavelan.com]. They actually support a helluva lot of OS's [wavelan.com]. The Win2000 drivers work great and the $300 Apple Airport (or the new $300 Orinoco equivalent [wavelan.com]) are great for small LAN's -- we have one Apple Airport that easily supports 25 Windows PC's.

    Now they even have an adapter [wavelan.com] for *NIX servers or any 10Base-T device that can't use PCMCIA, ISA, or PCI adapters. It just plugs in through any standard 10Base-T interface. Now I can get my SGI server on the WaveLAN! Very cool -- we're going wireless everywhere soon since wiring a building costs about the same as the initial investment in the WaveLAN/Orinoco cards and moving a wireless device requires no expensive re-wiring.

    Oh, and regardless of what people tell you about reliability, if we've had approximately 35 total users using Airports without ANY problems for several months, I would say the reliability is very good. BTW, this is as an ethernet hardware access point, not using the internal modem for connection to the internet. As an ethernet hardware access point, both the AirPort and Orinoco are Plug-and-Play out of the box.

    E-mail me [mailto] if you want any details -- we've done a lot of research and work using WaveLAN products including trying to use the 11 mBit wireless building connection hardware.
  • I think the G4-processor will be the new G4e-processor.
    Why G4?
    It consumes a lot less power than any x86-processor do.
    It will really have use of the AltiVec-units when conducting specielised scentific research usch as signal processing.

    - Henrik
  • good idea; new HavenCo-type ideA

  • why is everyone down on macs? same reason as most every thing: IGNORANCE. MacOS X will show everyone the light soon enough though.
  • Since this satellite will be deployed from the shuttle, it's going to have a nice, smooth flight compared to an unmanned shot. Maximum g-force in the Shuttle, if I recall correctly from all info I read as a kid, is 3G's after liftoff. A hard drive should be able to withstand that easily. Most drive specs show them able to withstand forces many times that from a shock like dropping it (while at rest with the head parked, mind you.)

    I wouldn't worry about the launch - I'd worry more about the UPS guy that delivers that system!
  • no more prone than windows98 or windows millenium or whistler

  • Actually, the processors in the older shuttles (without the glass cockpits) date from the 1970s. An 80386 would blow them out of the water; they are pre-6502 era parts. A friend at JPL grumbled that the replacement for Challenger still had the huge rack, but now each box contained a small board that emulated the ancient TTL hardware.
  • by smaugy ( 50134 )
    ... so now we'll have hordes of script kiddies whipping out their wireless networking kits and firing up their favourite sniffer in the hope of getting any passwords that fly by.

  • by Chagrin ( 128939 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @11:03PM (#1009590) Homepage
    1) How do they manage to transmit back to earth? There's nothing even remotely comparable to an antennae or dish on that thing.

    2) How do they handle the altitude adjustments that the Iridium satellites were so dependent on? Similarly, if they expect these things to fly in a cluster (constellation), won't this impose a few difficulties?

  • Yes, It's kind of silly to believe that an assumed superior beings would be brought down by a computer virus. You would think that they would be more intelligent not to use Outlook. Dumb bastards.
  • Hmm.. fruits in space eh? What do you suppose they'll send up there next? Maybe everyone's favorite fruit.. Richard Simmons!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2000 @11:07PM (#1009593)
    Looks like you're thinking of the UV protection provided by the ozone layer, and you're right insofar as a satelite would have to be beyond that.

    UV isn't a problem for a satelite however - other radiation definitely is. Fortunately the orbit should still be within the van-allen belt which owes its existence to the earths magnetic field; most of the radiation except for visible light will thus be kept from harming the satelite or the G4 mac.

  • I just looked at their homepage, and it is crap, if they can't freaking design a homepage, then they are not flying anything to space, this is all a scam.

  • Actually, the original poster is right: computers with that kind of performance *are* classified as munitions by DTRA, and their use is closely monitored. I should know, I'm getting ready to fly a Hitachi SH-2 microprocessor (about 14 MIPS, a far cry from a PowerMac), and am having to jump through major hoops to do it.

    My situation is more complicated because the hardware is being exported and becomes the posession of a non-US entity before launch, something that doesn't seem to be the case for SkyCorp.

    Lucky for them.

  • How large the possible problem would be depends upon the orbit. If the orbit is below 1000 km (which is likely), the problem is not very big...it is likely a total dose problem of about 1 to 3 krad(Si) per year. Most electronics parts can survive at least 10 krad(Si) while many can survive up to 50 krad(Si), with some parts into the Mrad(Si). The Single Event Effects (bit upsets and hangs) problems will occur most likely only in the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA). In the SAA, fluxes for energetic protons (the most common cause of SEEs) are 5 to 6 orders of magnitude higher than the rest of the orbit. The SAA covers the region around Brazil mostly.

    Above 1000 km and below about 6000 km, the problem is much more extreme. Fortunately this is not a very common place for satellites.

    Above 6000 km, the SEE problem (except for solar flares) dissapates some and total dose problems become more of an issue.

    Above 30000 km, the total dose problems largely go away, unless you decide to go to Europa.

    These are really just generalizations and if you want an answer with more fidelity, you should use software like Space Radiation (www.spacerad.com).
  • I hope they have adequate shielding on the shuttle to protect that poor G4 from cosmic rays (literal cosmic rays!). Most desktop machines are not made up of parts that are guaranteed to survive the rigors of space travel. I hope no random shower of high-energy particles wind up inside the G4's memory management unit and cause it to burst into flame. A fire aboard the shuttle would kill everyone onboard...
  • The G4 is the MPC7400 with the Altivec instruction set. The PPC750 is the G3 which is a variant of the PPC740 with faster L2 cache.

  • they aren't nessesarily military grade chips in that thing.

  • Could be MacOS X, Yellow Dog Linux or LinuxPPC. These all perform marvelously on the G4 architecture.


  • >(except for solar flares)

    But isn't it just about solar flare season?

    I know it runs on an 11 year cycle, I'm just not sure where we are in that cycle right about now. But I could have sworn I read an article not too long ago about how we are almost due for another eruption of gobs of particle crud from the sun...

    ... with, of course, all of the requisite effects:

    Northern lights at low latitudes.
    Lots o' stuff in orbit getting fried (and a corresponding hiatus in shuttle flights).
    And a total thrashing of worldwide radio communications.

    Of course, this G4 could be planned to go up AFTER flare season. But isn't it still a valid concern?

  • >AirPort encrypts the information sent
    >over the network

    Yeah, but remember it was designed for export BEFORE crypto laws were loosened.

    I don't remember exactly what key length it uses, but it was something revoltingly small.... like 48 bit or 56 bit... something like that.

    Not exactly your average 4096bit PGP key, is it?

  • Now the satellite will double as a huge base station.
  • Bondi, Graphite, Grape, Blueberry, Lime, Tangerine or Strawberry?

    Inquiring minds need to know!
    Lord Pixel - The cat who walks through walls
  • It is in fact solar flare season. We are at the peak of that solar flare cycle. We have had 12 or 13 proton flares this year already. Last year, we only 9 total all year.

    While solar flares are important, they are not nearly as important as you decrease in altitude. If you are well shielded by the Earth's geomagnetic field, then the protons do not penetrate easily.

    How do you know if you are well covered by the geomagnetic field...if you less than 10000 to 15000 km in altitude and are not highly inclined. 90 degree orbits (polar orbits) are not as well protected as lower inclination orbits (up to 60 degrees or so). Excepting of course the SAA's boost from solar flares (which is still relatively minor).

    So most of the satellites you hear about having (big) problems during solar flares are those in the high altitude orbits. This particular satellite will not likely have a problem...it is most likely destined for an orbit similar to the Shuttles (400 to 500 km, 28 to 55 degrees, with occasionally 90 degree inclination jaunts) and therefore protected by geomagnetic shielding.
  • Since G4 processors are classified as "munitions" according to US export laws, will the these suckers count as orbiting weapons? Perhaps THIS was the antimissle 'Star Wars' program dubya was talking about. Uh oh, I blew the cover. There's the doorbell ... gotta go... NSA?! AAAaaargh!!!!!!

    -- If the blues don't kill you, brother, they'll make you a mighty, might man.
    - John Hamilton, Pursuit Ballistics
  • Their using the Airport? Extraplanetary AppleTalk?

    If The Apple Airport can beam a signal into orbit, then why can't I keep a stable connection to it when I'm 10 meters away from it?

  • I thought it was time to write a sequel to "News from the Linux Frontlines".


    Ask Slashdot: What's this Linux thing?
    Posted by emmett on Monday June 12, @12:20AM
    from the i-just-like-the-penguin dept

    NewbieLuser asks, "I'm pretty good using Micro$oft Windoze, but I've heard about this Lunix thing, and now I want to escape the EVIL EMPIRE and be a l337 h4X0r like you guys here at SlashDot. So I ordered a copy of "Red Hat 62", but my question is, what is it? What does it do? Can I install it from WIndows, or do I have to open up a DOS-box? (Ew! DOS is hard!)"

    New Cracking Tool: SlashDoS
    Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday June 12, @12:05AM
    from the i-0wn-j00 dept

    Slashdot has long been envied by 5cr1p7 k1dd13z for its ability to kill any webserver within five minutes of a link being posted to the front page. Now these l337 k1dd13z can harness the power of Slash, without having to learn all that hard Perl stuff! I am proud to announce the 1.0 release of SlashDoS! Update: CT: I know, I know, it's not Freshmeat!

    Microsoft Spokesmen Diss Jackson's Momma
    Posted by CmdrTaco on Sunday June 11, @10:59PM
    from the damn-thats-cold dept

    Today Microsoft Corporation responded to Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's rulings by calling his mother a "fat bitch" and a "stank-ass hoe". One spokesman is quoted as saying, "Yeah, yeah, dat bitch got such a fat ass, dat when she sits around the house, she really be sittin' around the house!!" Fellow Microsoft spokesmen agreed with this analysis of Ms. Jackson's buttocks, giving each other "high-fives" and passing around a bottle of malt liquor.

    Former Microsoft CEO William Gates refused to comment on these statements, other than noting that "Ms. Jackson, while perhaps not a huge muthafuckin bitch, ain't all that skinny, ya know what I'm sayin'."

    Jackson is reportedly preparing a counter-statement in which Gates' mother is said to freely engage in promiscuous oral sex.

    Transmeta Receives Round of Handjobs from Rob Malda
    Posted by Hemos on Sunday June 11, @10:507PM
    from the he-also-blows-quite-well dept

    Transmeta Inc, employer of Linux frontman Linus Torvalds, received a round of handjobs from our own CmdrTaco earlier this week. Malda, who was always eager to post any Slashdot article mentioning the CPU designer, last week stated his intent to go "all the way". "It's obvious that I am sexually aroused by just the mention of the amazing company. I vow not to rest until I have brought each staff member to orgasm with my own two hands." The handjobs were eagerly accepted by Transmeta, whose engineers aren't too picky about their sexual partners.

    Famed Hacker "Neo" Constructs Eight-dimensional Beowulf Cluster
    Posted by Roblimo on Sunday June 11, @10:45PM
    from the so-how-do-we-eat-soup? dept

    "Neo", an underground hacker guru well known for his escape of the artificial world in which we all are trapped while our life is sucked away to feed a never-ending horde of robot-monsters, today unleashed a new weapon in his battle against the Agents: an eight-dimensional Beowulf cluster, codenamed "BW8". Slashdot has obtained an exclusive interview with "Neo". Here is an excerpt:

    Slashdot: Of course, you realize that no-one has ever done this before.

    Neo: That's why it's going to work. [pauses] And of course it works. It runs Linux(tm).

    SD: VA Linux has announced their intention to sponsor this project, by donating lots of hardware. Comments?

    N: Whoa...

    SD: What do you plan to do with the machines after we've won our freedom from our mechanical oppressors?

    N: Well, I was thinking that it would make a really rad Quake III server.

    SD: Why do you fight, Neo?

    N: Well, obviously, to allow people to live normal lives again. Being trapped in a fantasy world while your bioenergy is drained, like, sucks. Hey, do you know where I can get a Yopy? Those things kick ass.

    (Read More)

    FreeBSD Merchandise on sale NOW!!
    Posted by gay-nik on Sunday June 11, @10:44PM
    from the this-is-slashdot-journalism? dept

    I just thought I'd remind you to BUY FREEBSD MERCHANDISE! CD-ROMs, t-shirts, plush toys, and all sorts of other WONDERFUL merchandise is availble from Walnut Creek CD-ROM! Man, you guys should go buy some of this merchandise now, because it is HOT! Update: gay-nik: Hey, and don't forget to buy some of those OpenBSD posters! [slashdot.org] BSD RuleZzz!!

    Jon Katz Finishes Pillaging of Slashdot Community
    Posted by JonKatz on Sunday June 11, @10:41PM
    from the man-i-really-screwed-you! dept

    Well folks, it's time to say goodbye. I've completed my goal of infiltrating your community, playing on your sympathies by defending geeks, and gaining your trust, and now that I've gotten rich by stealing your comments and publishing them as a book (accompanied by my own lame analysis), I'm done with you losers. I'll probably spend the next few years pushing down children at Disney World and stealing their money. (Click below, if you feel worthy of reading more of my godlike opinions, you scum.)

    Your Rights Online: Internet Banned
    Posted by jamie on Sunday June 11, @10:39PM
    from the xfiles-is-a-documentary dept

    Okay, okay, the Internet wasn't really banned, but we can't trust those Government types, so who knows when it will happen?! So what will we do when the Internet gets banned? Also, perhaps we should discuss the eventual hostile takeover of Earth by the Greys. (Read More)

    News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters
    Posted by timothy on Sunday June 11, @10:37PM
    from the slashdot.org dept

    Linux? XFree86 apache perl free-speech. Computer cases, Microsoft DMCA penguin hard disk. LiViD! Robots, corel debian stallman. ESR java athlon? PNG mozilla mars, battlefield earth OpenBSD beowulf cluster, python NSA hacker Quake III. Transmeta, gnome. UK virus windows; Playstation celeron Star Wars. First post.


  • by Tarkwyn ( 130064 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @10:23PM (#1009609)
    Not a good move! It's only a matter of time until some disheartened, but incredibly lucky mathematician and a cocky yet loveable figher pilot get ensconced in a governmental global-protection scheme, borrow some alien vehicle and UPLOAD A VIRUS!

    Everyone knows that Macs are the best way to bring down a space station :)


  • by MaineCoon ( 12585 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @10:23PM (#1009610) Homepage
    I wonder how they will be dealing with radiation. The G4 isn't rad-hard by any means.

    Are satellites even subjected to the radiation of space? I suppose it depends on altitude, but as far as I am aware, satellites are beyond any radiation-protecting layers of atmosphere, and thus exposed to the radiation of space.

    - MaineCoon
  • BTW, I meant that in humour, but my Pseudo-HTML tags didn't take.
  • The case looks like they came from outer space.. we're just doing them a favour, and sending 'em back! :-)
  • I hope they are equip with a better mouse than the ones on earth.

  • Yay for Macs in orbit, just as long as they don't use that ridiculous MacOS 9 (or 8 or any other previous version) with its hilarious pre-Win3.1 memory architecture...
  • Actually, the AirPort encrypts the information sent over the network, so said script kiddies will have a hard time intercepting passwords.

    However, I doubt wether it will be a standard implementation of AirPort (IEEE 802.11b), it'll rather be some custom modified protocol to accomodate the environment in space.
  • Is this the beginning of a series of satellites shot down for they imitate the design of iSat?
  • Stuff radiation hardening, what about the temperature cycle ? Unless it's in an airtight container obviously fans and convection cooling aren't going to work ... Plus, there's a c200 degree gradient from one side of a satellite to another, isn't there? Isn't that likely to exceed the manufacturer's approved temperature range?

    This /has/ to be a hoax.

    More realistically -- I've always wondered if any GPL'd code ever made it off the planet. Sure, NASA & contractors write their own code; but surely gcc or something has been folded into onboard code at some point, on something ? Anyone?
    Camaron de la Isla [flamenco-world.com] 'When I sing with pleasure, my

  • The article mentions that they are testing assembly and resilience procedures primarily in this flight - I wonder how the construction of a standard Apple G4 Mac relates to this, specifically?

    I've often enjoyed the process of opening up my G4 for whatever reason, and marvelling at the design - are there specific aspects to Apples design, component-wise, which make the G4 an ideal test platform for this companies satellite assembly program? Unfortunately the article is a little light on details... perhaps some SilVal slashdotters who have more details about this group could shed some details?
  • I've always wondered if any GPL'd code ever made it off the planet.

    Here's a press release from Debian a couple years ago. They used Debian to control one of the on-board experiments:

    http://www.debian.org/Lists-Archives/debian-announ ce-97/msg00005.html [debian.org]

  • Yes, I can imagine temperature being an issue, however the PowerPC chips run somewhat cooler than even ix86 chips of the same mhz, from what I have heard. My G3-350 runs, closed case w/ fan running, at 23C.

    Open case, shuts the fan off - I think it drives it up into 30-35C. I've seen some overclocked G3s (300 OC'd to 450 or 500) flake out at 35C.

    The problem with vacuum, is there is no heat convection to cool the satellite. At least humidity isn't an issue ;-)

    - MaineCoon
  • Temperature problems in satellites are a problem, but not that big of a deal. I don't have any links on hand, but while it costs some money to deal with this problem, it has been solved easily for years.

    On the GPL code issue, I would bet a little, but not much.
  • How the hell is a modern hard disk supposed to withstand a launch without inscribing a delicate tracery across the platter with the head?

    Or have they got some decent solid state stuff instead?
  • "...will the these suckers count as orbiting weapons?"

    I don't know about the G4s, but I'll bet a Mac SE, accelerated to high velocity, would make a great Kinetic Kill weapon.
  • Check out this power point presentation. [usra.edu] This project is to build a high temperature super conductor in a low earth orbit and return it to the ground for use. Notice the sponsors of the work.
  • I recall JPL switched from military spec chips
    to radiation tested off the shelf chips. Even if the yield is very small, its cheaper.

  • Don't click on this guy's "can't" link if you have a weak stomach...

    - Rake
  • Good thinking, I forgot about the Altivec. Makes total sense.
  • Wow, thanks for the excellent link! That's a very intriguing presentation ... and you're right, the sponsor is quite interesting! Wonder what they're going to do with that, eh? (Can you say supercomputer?)
  • Last time I checked, 10 meters equals about 32.8 feet, well within the Airport's range. I'd give Apple a call if I were you.
  • One of the first laptops spaceshuttle astronauts brought in space were Apple PowerBook, because at the time, they were the only portables that had a built-in trackball, whereas PCs still had those stupid clip-on trackballs with dangling wires.

    Those were not PowerPC chips, though. They were off-the-shelf 68K machines with no special shielding or drives. On launch and landing, the machines were simply turned off and their hard drives parked.
  • Temperatures are always a problem. Computer chips have been flying on satellites for years. Every satellite is designed to provide an appropriate temperature environment for all the components.

    The temperature extremes are extreme, but that covers everything on the satellite. The exterior has the greatest extremes (depending on the design). The interior is usually controlled to within -30degC to 45degC and averages room temperature. This is by design and while not necessarily trivial, can be done.

    The temperature control is most often controlled by designing the appropriate amount of radiation (IR). You want to radiate away just enough of the aborbed heat (earth IR, albedo, and solar) and the internal heat dissipation to maintain the desired temperatures.

    Welcome to my world; this is what I do for a living!

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • For these small satellites, the launch "wear-and-tear" shouldn't be as large of a cost as quoted in the article.

    What I don't understand is, if this company is going to make a satellite constellation by building the spacecraft on ISS, how are they going to put them in different orbits? By definition, the satellites will all be at the same inclination and assuming no propulsion system the same altitude. Talk about dangers to astronauts. Also makes for a very limited satellite communications constellation.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • I would like to know how they plan to remotely reboot any computer they put up in orbit. We all know any computer is going to crash every now and then and it'd be interesting how they plan to do this on the Macintosh platform.
  • -Tonight, Pinky, we'll take over the world. All we need is to take control over that G4 in space and then we'll use Illustrator program to send subliminal messages all over the world that will force everyone who uses Mac on Earth that, I, Brain is the ruller! This plan must work, since the current ruller used an inferior OS to do the same thing...
    -Narf! Didn't DOJ find it illegal and broke his empire into twine?
    -No Pinky, it was all part of The Plan!
  • ...protected by International Law and I think, also by several UN resolutions. If the Sealand [slashdot.org] data haven is ever thwarted by the Royal British Navy, then the project managers could always look towards earth orbiting servers within satellites as internationally neutral havens for sensitive data.

    However, this brings up another issue. Can nations on Earth who do have legal jurisdiction over the satellite base stations within their territory, be able to impose sanctions against, or intercept data transfers being made from these satellite servers? Will intelligence agencies (such as the CIA) start manufacturing military satellites that will be able to perform Denial of Service attacks on other satellite servers or perform even more sinister acts such as hacking and EMP attacks?

    The possibility of satellite servers will surely usher another new age in the war for and against the lack of national jurisdiction over data on the internet.

  • Satellite factories in space - now *that's* a great idea. Makes total sense - just ship up the raw materials by Shuttle, reducing flight costs (no wear-and-tear for launch design required), and put 'em together in space.

    Excellent idea, and if this program succeeds I figure that this is probably one of the first industrialization steps for space - which will then lead to further expansion into space in general.

    Very exciting stuff - I've made mental note to follow this experiment closer next year when it launches.
  • Talk about your unltimate web page defacement, I'm sure usenet will be buzzing with script kiddies looking for Mac hacks tomarrow.
  • As I recall, it was a Mac that gave the alien mothership the virus in Independance Day.
    Surprising really - I would've thought Windows would be the best for passing on virii - maybe running Outlook =)
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum.gmail@com> on Sunday June 11, 2000 @11:44PM (#1009639) Homepage Journal
    They're not 'normal', dude.

    They're usually 6 or 7 years behind the rest of the computer industry in terms of processing power, because of the complexities required to keep a processor running in space - by the time all the other 'packaging' problems have been solved for a specific processor to fly in space, processor design has moved on - so you end up with older Intel and Motorola chips being used in current modern satellite programs.

    This is evident in the Shuttle, for example - they're still using IBM Thinkpad 486 laptops in the shuttle, because these are the only ones that have undergone the stress testing required by NASA to endure the flight ... and only just recently was a Pentium processor even used.

    I believe the Shuttle itself uses much simpler processors - I don't know the details, but I am under the impression that a lot of the compute systems on the Shuttle are using processors from the mid-80's, such as the Mot 68k, Intel 386/486's, etc.

    So, the point of all this, is that it's actually exciting that a company is considering using a *modern* computing platform for space experiments. My first impulse when reading this article, in fact, was to wonder just what is the fastest/most powerful processor that's ever made it into space - perhaps this G4 will be it. Who knows?
  • If they put a G4 on the space station with all the goodies then they better make the Intellimouse work with it.. Ever used a mouse with a ball upside down? Zero G the ball would just bounce in its cage. I'm sure NASA can get M$ to sell them an Intellimouse for $800.00.

    Oh, to break the myth once and for all: The Army's 800.00 hammers were made of beryllium for use near klystrons. Beryllium is tougher than steel, nonferrous and very expensive. Since a klystron is made of glass, surrounded by a magnet that will suck in a normal tool falling within 2 feet of it and costs upwards of 8 grand... well the $800.00 hammer seems like a good deal all of the sudden.

  • FYI: The Intellimouse [microsoft.com] does work with the Mac.
  • 1) The sticks on the picture look like VHF omnidirectional antennae. Also, you only need large antennae when the satellite is far away, like geostationary orbit. On the Low Earth Orbit (~800km), all that is needed is a very small transmitter, comparable to a mobile phone in terms of power; well, at least for low bandwidth connections. There are quite a few tiny satellites like that in orbit right now. They are being used radio hams [amsat.org] , scientific experiments, etc...

    Another part of the answer is that dishes can only reasonably be used at microwave frequencies (above 1GHz), otherwise they would be too large [naic.edu]

    2) With omnidirectional antennae, there is no need for attitude control, see above.
  • I know that JPL and other NASA folks have been using PowerPC chips in space apps for a while (Though I don't know if this is because they have a rad-hard version). Note, Intel handed over the Pentium design to Sandia to build a rad-hard version. However, this was way behind schedule last time I checked, and a lot of it was in IHDL (intel's own hardware description language). Don't go slicing my throat over it though..
  • The first Mac in space was actually a Mac Portable, that old 17-pound $6500 behemoth with a 16MHz 68000 processor. Apple's info on the mission. [apple.com]
    They used some springs to take up the slack in the trackball.
    How much does it cost per pound to send something up in the shuttle?

  • Will Apple Offer Wireless Web Access Via Satellite? [themacjunkie.com]

    6/13/00 - On Sunday, SpaceViews.com reported that Apple is partnering with SkyCorp to send a web server into space for the first time in history. Next year, a PowerMac G4 will enter the Earth's orbit equipped with modified AirPort technology, and rain fiery death down upon Redmond. Sorry, that was a typo... - Ben Apple
  • It was the six or seven minutes of extreme vibration at launch - what would that do to the actuators and the head itself?
  • Propellent and engines on the spacecraft or a separate small vehicle to accomplish that. Many satellites are launched by the shuttle etc...they do not stay in that orbit.
  • by pooge ( 79750 )
    i wouldn't want to depend on something that has a one button mouse and no shell... :P
  • 300 miles above earth. I'm all Phfor it.

Administration: An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. -- Ambrose Bierce