NASA finds apparent sabotage of computers for ISS

NASA finds apparent sabotage of computers for ISS

NASA finds apparent sabotage of computers for ISS

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
July 26 2007 3:45 PM

NASA finds apparent sabotage of computers for ISS

This is the most bizarre news day for NASA ever.

CNN is reporting that NASA has found cut wires on computers slated to go onboard the International Space Station, and it may be sabotage.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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The U.S. space agency NASA on Thursday confirmed it had discovered the apparent sabotage of a noncritical component of the international space station due to be carried up by the space shuttle Endeavour. It launched an investigation after finding cut wires in a piece of computer equipment intended to transfer data from station sensors to the ground, the agency said.

Yikes. Bizarrely, the rest of the CNN article says nothing more about this, and instead just gives mundane facts about the next Endeavour mission.

However, at the top of the CNN article is this:

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Story Highlights
  • NASA reports apparent sabotage after computer found with wires cut
  • Computer supposed to be sent to the international space station in two weeks
  • NASA hopes to repair computer in time for August 7 launch

And I think I am stunned by NASA once again. They plan on launching those computer parts anyway? In just two weeks?

Does anyone else think this is nuts? Sure, the parts are "non-critical", but if this is sabotage, then maybe, just maybe, there might be other things that were sabotaged as well. I'm sure is investigating this, though it's not apparent in that perversely short and uninformative article. But it's hard to understand how this could be "apparent sabotage" on any scale and have NASA still want to go ahead with the mission. At the very least, isn't this a Federal issue, and wouldn't the FBI in there? I would expect the government might want to ground the Shuttle fleet pending an investigation.

Sigh. We have almost no info, so I won't speculate any more. But obviously there is a a lot more going on here than we're hearing.

Criminy. What day.

Update: BABlogge JR Keller commented that Yahoo has much more info. This was a lone act, and the contractor that employed the saboteur notified NASA over a week ago. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's space operations chief, said ""The damage is very obvious. It's easy to detect. It's not a mystery to us... I don't want to speculate on motivation... There's an active investigation going on and I'd rather let that get handled that way... There's no concern about anything that's on orbit." So there was quite a bit more to know, and it wasn't in the CNN article. NASA obviously feels comfortable that this was a contained event, and feels safe to launch the Shuttle.