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Space NASA

An Astronaut's View of Space Station Tech 115

An anonymous reader writes "Here's a chat with a NASA astronaut about how they fix system outages on board the International Space Station, what kind of computing tech they use on board, and how he would like to see the iPad used on the ISS." He talks about using 5 year old laptops because they had been tested to handle the stresses of space travel, as well as the importance of being able to read emails and send pictures to family while aboard a space station for months at a time.
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An Astronaut's View of Space Station Tech

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  • IPAD vs Laptop (Score:1, Interesting)

    by spartyparty ( 1943028 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:39PM (#34269388)
    I feel that using a IPad would be a no brainer for usage on a space station. Think about carrying around a laptop on a space station compared to a tablet. Much friendly and also why not create applications customized to their needs. Only down side is are they powerful enough...my guess is if they are using five year old lap tops it cannot be too far off
  • Re:IPAD vs Laptop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZERO1ZERO ( 948669 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:44PM (#34269474)
    Would the iPad orientation sensor get confused when used in zero g environment? Does it use gravity to determine which way is up? What about gps do you get wimpy gps readings when using a gps receiver in space?
  • Re:IPAD vs Laptop (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:50PM (#34269628)
    Except most civilian GPS chips don't work above 60 or 80k feet or so and definitely not at orbital velocities. I assume this is so you can't put your Tomtom in a SCUD missile.
  • Re:IPAD vs Laptop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marcansoft ( 727665 ) <(hector) (at) (marcansoft.com)> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:53PM (#34269674) Homepage

    The signal would be stronger (well, except for the walls of the ISS), but most consumer GPS chipsets are utterly confused at high altitudes and high ground speeds. No real reason it couldn't be made to work given suitable GPS firmware, but it won't work out of the box.

  • by Fallingwater ( 1465567 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:05PM (#34269858)

    I read (most of) the TFA, and it seems the only place the iPad is mentioned is in the last five or so lines at the end of the fourth page (of a total of four). The man says it's "very possible" they'll adopt a popular device like the iPad over another tablet or old PDA. Period. Based on this ridiculously small amount of information about it, the iPad shouldn't even be mentioned in the summary. But it is, because that makes people read the article.

    Y'know, I'm tired of all the blowjobs Steve Jobs is getting from the press the world over. I can't count the times I've seen ads for iPads thinly disguised as meaningful articles on magazines and newspapers that normally have nothing to do with the field of portable computing. The most shameless go with "how the iPad has changed our life" ("our" whose? Because last I checked, an iPad wasn't a requirement for every household like, say, a vacuum cleaner is). The ones that retain *some* level of self-respect have the decency to say "how tablet computers have changed our life", but then invariably have a picture of an iPad under that title.

    And I'm no anti-fanboy, mind you. I dislike the iPad for a variety of reasons I won't discuss here, but I'd be making the same remarks if the press had gone all apeshit about the latest Android tablet, or something.

    As for the topic of technology on space stations, I found this [dansdata.com] an interesting read, and rather more informative as well - though it's more about the computers running the stations than the ones used by the staff for their own enjoyment. It's surprising just how old the stuff going up in space really is.

  • by ShavedOrangutan ( 1930630 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:48PM (#34270632)
    In 2001 A Space Odyssey, in the first scene onboard the Discovery when Bowman and Poole are having dinner, they're both watching a BBC broadcast on iPads!

    Full size flat screen video tablets that look suspiciously like an iPad.

    In 1968! That was 42 years ago!
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @03:03PM (#34271898)

    I remember reading about an interview with one astronaut, who said that the most spectacular sight he saw in outer space was when his urine was ejected from the capsule. It immediately froze, crystallized and exploded, and was brilliantly illuminated by the sunlight.

    I tried to google for this reference, but only came up with this: http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090911-space-water-dump.html [space.com]

    It's nice to see that astronauts use their precious bodily fluids to entertain stargazers.

  • Re:IPAD vs Laptop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Requiem18th ( 742389 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:38PM (#34275364)

    I'm not sure durable and iPad belong in the same sentence without a negative, you are looking for something more like this: http://www.ruggedtabletpc.com/ [ruggedtabletpc.com]

  • by jewelie ( 752077 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:07AM (#34278388) Homepage

    add extra shielding to compensate....

    Ah! Do you know what happens if you add lots of shielding to try to stop a high speed particle from causing a single bit error? :) Apparently it turns one high speed particle into a shedload of other slightly slower but still stupidly fast particles, that instead cause a shedload of bit errors. (IANARS but I knew one once, and I made the same assumption as you til he corrected me! :) )

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN