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State of US Nuclear Silos (60 Minutes)

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This is a pretty crazy look at how out of date our nuclear silos are here in the US. It was a story on 60 Minutes last night. 8' floppies? From the 1960s!?!

They're supposed to do one thing, and do it well.  If something is using time-tested tech to manage weapons that could end the world a few times over, I don't call that out of date- I call it reliable. ;)

Quote from the comments that states it better:

Not quite as terrifying, but the Shuttle and the Hubble telescope use 486 computers in them. And the reason for is simple...if it isn't broke, then fixing it just adds risk of introducing new bugs or new vulnerabilities for not a whole lot of new capability. Maybe you get a cost reduction, but those kind of programs aren't run to minimize costs, they are run to minimize risk.

Now, those are extreme cases, but in general the defense industry prefers to design with older, proven technologies for new designs. They can't get 5 years into a 20 year program and discover that the state-of-the-art processor they are using has a caching issue or a bus deadlocking bug in it.

So you start with a brand new missile silo or airplane and it already has 10 year old electronics in it. Fast forward 20 years and it looks totally ludicrous.

--- End quote ---

I wonder.  Do they still make 8" floppies under contract?

I guess it does make it harder for somebody to put a virus on a USB stick and contaminate the computers.  No USB ports!!  :)

Ah the good old nuclear silo!!  Home of The Whopper.  :)

Stoic Joker:
It looks like you're trying to launch a nuclear missile, would you like to:
1. spellcheck the launch codes.
2. Specify where it lands.
3. Reboot now to increase the odds of it going where you tell it to.


On another website I learned that the way data is written to these floppies allows for reliable storing of data. Even better than tape, if kept in conditioned rooms (without too much humidity).

I worked for a company that still used 286 processor based computers in certain parts of the company. Actually, only in the rooms that were kept permanently below -20 degrees Celsius.
The reason was that newer processors get too hot too quickly and the condensation would kill the machine.

Although condensation is less of a problem in space, temperature differences are not. The bombardment of solar rays isn't helping either. These affect faster working processors more dramatically then the old clunkers of yesteryear. And as you you want as much reliability as possible in space, you'll deploy what you know


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