Two weeks ago, NASA spokespeople acknowledged that the $6 billion Hubble Space Telescope had stopped transmitting data back to Earth. Today, the optimistic news is that ground control technicians have remote-booted the telescope's backup computer . The Hubble's No. 2 system is built around a pre-Pentium Intel 80486 microchip. Five of the six "redundant components" activated this week haven't been powered up since 1990. Before you type this is not news , read Nasa's carefully crafted PR prose from 1999 . Look how much we've gotten used to commodity PC hardware since then:
In a good example of NASA's goal of "faster, cheaper, better," commercially developed, commonly available equipment was used to build this new computer at a fraction of the price it would cost to build a specialized computer designed specifically for the spaceflight environment.