Computers Likely to Pilot NASA's Future

No More Astronauts?

Future space vehicles may soon be on auto-pilot full-time. A new generation of launch craft planned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration could very well be controlled largely by computers.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that "the reusable space vehicles, part of the X-33 program under development at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale [California], probably will not even have a cockpit, a window, or a control stick..." The X-33 program consists of an unmanned prototype, which will be sent out into space in order to demonstrate technology for a later, full-scale vehicle.

Many astronauts, wary of this current development, contend that a computer pilot would not effectively fly a passenger-carrying ship as well as a human one. "It is far easier for a problem to fool a computer than a crew," veteran astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson told the Times.

Even though executives at NASA consider the man-versus-computer question still open for discussion, they admit that the the cockpit and pilot design of the current space shuttle will not be implemented in the X-33 program. Wishing to avoid any further rising tensions over the matter, NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin has directed officials at Lockheed Martin, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, and the Johnson Space Center in Houston to conduct a study on the issue.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.