8 famous software bugs in space

Software glitches can occur anywhere, but can be particularly troublesome (and costly) in space
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Image courtesy flickr/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

There’s never a good time to run into software bugs, but some times are worse than others - like during a mission to space. Spacecraft of all shapes and sizes rely heavily on software to complete their objectives. But those missions can be quickly ended by the simplest of human errors when writing code. The omission of an overbar here or overflow error checking code there can mean the difference between success or failure, not to mention the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars, years of work and, on manned missions, human life. Despite the care with which these systems are built, bugs have been occurring in spacecraft software since we started to fling rockets into space, as the following examples demonstrate.

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