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"Man has three sets of capabilities that make him extremely hard to replace by any machine: 1) he has a very wide-band set of sensors for acquiring information; 2) he has in his head a built-in memory and computer than cannot yet be matched by our largest and fastest machines; and finally he has a remarkably versatile capability for action, and physical operations with his body, hands, and tools. These three capabilities make man such a valuable element in space science and applications that we need to take advantage of him at the site of operations whenever this is feasible..."
- Dr. George E. Mueller, 3-10-69
The shuttle operates with four primary computers and one backup computer,
known as a quad-redundant system. All five systems on STS-1 were modified
IBM AP-101 computers. IBM programmed the four primary computers; Rockwell
International programmed the backup computer.
The computer systems are programmed independently to guard against the possiblities of the same software problem causing failure in all systems. This is an example of dissimilar redundancy - doing the same thing in more than one way in order to prevent total system failure.
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