back to article NASA's TESS mission in distress, Mars Express restart is a success

A Guidance and Navigation Control (GNC) issue scuppered last night's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9. Conversely, the European Space Agency (ESA) celebrated a successful restart of the Mars Express orbiter following a software update. TESS is less Scheduled for launch yesterday, the …

  1. Kaltern

    "Makers of certain consumer electronics should take note that it is possible to create an update that both extends the life of a device and improves its performance."

    Oh Apple are fully aware of this.

    They just CHOOSE to fuck over the consumer.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Indeed

      Although it may be possible, it does not generate revenue, and is therefor not a priority.

      Because customer satisfaction is no longer a priority. Reeling a prospect in and getting him to fork over the dough is the only priority these days.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      This echoes the earlier article today about the projected drop in smartphone sales in Europe.

      The basic business model of the high-tech suppliers is screwed. In the reverse of the approach that worked for King Gillette and many others, they sell an expensive bit of kit and then walk away, hoping that when you get pissed off with it you'll buy another one (from them - how likely is that?). This doesn't guarantee a stable cashflow. Microsoft belatedly realised this with Windows and Office - sell it once, and people then expect support and updates free for the next decade. Now they're switching to (expensive) subscriptions, but they have a point.

      If hardware manufacturers could work out a product structure which allowing incremental improvement and upgrade they could make a killing - sell the thingy for a reasonable price, but them sell some modular upgrades every year or two, until the customer finally goes for a new base unit after ten years. Steady income!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Microsoft belatedly realised this with Windows and Office - sell it once, and people then expect support and updates free for the next decade. Now they're switching to (expensive) subscriptions, "

        I wouldn't mind paying for Windows annual updates to fix functional/security problems. As long as they were left working as they were - if I decided to stop having updates.

        I've stayed with W7 and Office 2010 because of the mess that has been made of W8/10 GUI - and the "phone home" nature of their malware. No forward plan for me on Windows.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        they sell an expensive bit of kit and then walk away, hoping that when you get pissed off with it you'll buy another one (from them - how likely is that?). This doesn't guarantee a stable cashflow.

        It does if you are Apple. You start with them loving the device, as it is so much better than their N-1 model. Gradually, the performance degrades until they hate the device, and wish they had something better, something N+1. They get it, they are ecstatic about the new shiny, and the process starts over.

        They can't jump to a different ecosystem, because everyone else in their circle is using the services provided to interact with each other, and they fear missing out.

        PS: Modular phones truly would be dreadful. It has been tried before, clunky and with useless upgrades.

      3. DCFusor Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Give 'em the razor

        But sell them the inkjet cartridges, is that what you meant?

        At least the blades cost less than the razor - that's what THEY missed.

        1. Thoguht Silver badge

          Re: Give 'em the razor

          No, they didn't miss it, the Gilette Techmatic system used a cartridge containing a continuous, flexible blade that cost more than the razor (which was basically just a plastic holder for the cartridge).

      4. phuzz Silver badge

        "Microsoft belatedly realised this with Windows and Office [...] Now they're switching to (expensive) subscriptions"

        So far they've skipped the subscription and gone straight for the loss leader. Just continual updates, presumably in the hope that we'll give them money for something else?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "[...] resumably in the hope that we'll give them money for something else?"

          It's called a Faustian pact. They hope to get their money from elsewhere when they sell you.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          "Microsoft belatedly realised this with Windows and Office [...] Now they're switching to (expensive) subscriptions"

          So far they've skipped the subscription and gone straight for the loss leader. Just continual updates, presumably in the hope that we'll give them money for something else?

          I would argue that presumably at some point they will produce a stable and usable OS that doesn't cause grief from an update. Stability is good. Updates the improve the system are good. Updates that break things or BSOD the computer are bad. MS hasn't figured out with Win10 at this point.

          1. PNGuinn
            Trollface

            @ Mark 85

            "I would argue that presumably at some point they will produce a stable and usable OS ... "

            Mark, do you expect to outlive the heat death of the universe?

            1. largefile

              Re: @ Mark 85

              Guys.....Windows 10 and Office 365 have been on autopilot for a long time now. Updates without issue, new features occasionally. BSOD's? A distant memory for my from a decade ago. I hate to say it but Microsoft has never been performing better as a company and for the most part "it just works!"

    3. Lotaresco Silver badge
      Gimp

      That has to score some sort of record...

      ... for fastest, most OTT, fanbhoi knee jerk. First world problems or what?

      1. Kaltern

        Re: That has to score some sort of record...

        I have to ask.. to which comment are you referring, as I see no fan boi comments anywhere...

      2. James 51 Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: That has to score some sort of record...

        @Lotaresco First world polution poisons everyone.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: That has to score some sort of record...

          First World technology has save untold millions and given them a better life, as well...

          It's funny how people shoult about the dowside of, say, plastics, without acknowledging the myriad benefits the technology provides...

    4. Joe Gurman

      Or....

      Being a hardware company, they preferred to continue to stay in business.

      I mean, is anyone holding a frying pan next to your head and threatening to clobber you if you don't buy their newest bling?

  2. Dave Bell

    You're being a bit negative about the TESS launch.

    spaceX spot a problem, three hours before launch. And they stop the process long before any loading of fuel or liquid oxygen. It's about the time the humans leave the area of the launch pad. How is this a bad thing? Why should the satellite be "nervous"?

    Anyone can check the countdown sequence, find out these things. You don't have to watch launches for half a century to have a clue.

    Meanwhile the engineers check the details, and decide whether or not you will go to space today. This is thing going right.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      We live in a world...

      where it's become ingrained to measure things only by profit.

      So when you see that mistake, correct for it, and make things much better, people complain "it only made 100 million sales and 1 billion dollars, it's a failure" at the box office/store/music chart. ;)

      1. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: We live in a world...

        <quote> We live in a world... where it's become ingrained to measure things only by profit.</quote>

        You mean that you do not grasp the basics of business??

        Customers exist only to be "milked" for revenue.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Fatman

          I understand business perfectly. I don't see a problem with my statement.

        2. PaulFrederick

          Re: We live in a world...

          We live in a society

    2. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

      Re: negativity

      Agree with that. When I read the title, I thought the Falcon X had experienced Rapid Unplanned Disassembly, or the satellite had failed to reach orbit. A launch delay is not my conception of distress.

      El Reg, please do not trade factual accuracy for a nice rhyming headline.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: negativity

        El Reg, please do not trade factual accuracy for a nice rhyming headline.

        Erm, this is The Register, you know?

        Rhyming headlines and quotes from 1960s musicals are far more important than a few facts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: negativity

          "Rhyming headlines and quotes from 1960s musicals are far more important than a few facts."

          - TESS tickles - the ballsed up launch that had to be scratched

          - A TESSting time for NASA

          - Reboot for the win - TESS-tify!

          I can haz job as El Reg Hack?

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Meanwhile the engineers check the details, and decide whether or not you will go to space today.

      Erm. My mouse pointer/cursor happened to hover over the word details when I read this, causing my brain to read it as toenails.

      Now I have this mental image of the checks on the Falcon 9 landing feet, requiring a pedicurist in a white coat.

      I think I need another lunchtime gin...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All the Elonbot trolls are coming out, just surprised they haven’t accused El Reg of pushing fake news for failing to praise Elon.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Ah, the Anti-Elon trolls are out, having a go at the pro-Elon trolls.

        Bored now.

  3. Phil Kingston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Brave

    I get nervous hitting the reboot button on kit a few hundred km away, never mind in freaking space.

    Hats off I say.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Brave

      With Windows updates, I get nervous hitting the reboot button on kit infront of me!

      1. Arctic fox
        Windows

        @Simon Harris Re: "With Windows updates...."

        If there were any chance that updating my SP3 would shoot me into space I would not be nervous, I'd be terrified! :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MARSIS

    Did the MARSIS experiment ever get going on Mars Express? All I can find is news about it being postponed years ago.

    1. Vittal Aithal

      Re: MARSIS

      Yes, MARSIS has been working away collecting data. You can get the data from ESA at https://archives.esac.esa.int/psa/#!Table%20View/MARSIS=instrument

  5. adam payne Silver badge

    Makers of certain consumer electronics should take note that it is possible to create an update that both extends the life of a device and improves its performance

    That as maybe but consumer electronics manufacturers have no incentive to support their old devices.

    There's simply no money in it for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      consumer electronics manufacturers have no incentive to support their old devices.

      Maybe we should fire them into space?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe we should fire them into space?

        Well, we tried that with the Telephone Sanitizers, and we all now how that turned out.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: consumer electronics manufacturers have no incentive to support their old devices.

        Maybe we should fire them into space?

        The manufacturers or the devices?

    2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: "it's possible"

      Yeah, if the hardware only supports one piece of software. ONE. It is easy to improve on a simple architecture. But most consumer devices are now multi-function, loaded with a bunch of bloated third-party apps that each user picks for themselves that get more bloated with each update for "bug fixes, stability, performance improvements, yadda yadda yadda..." Quite impossible to improve performance under such heavy variables, unless the update deletes all third-party apps and restores simplicity. But the users won't bother to find things run better when all their precious apps (and associated data) are gone.

    3. tfb Silver badge

      There is, in fact, money in it for them. If I bought an x only to discover, a year later that, despite my x being perfectly physically serviceable, I now needed a shiny new y because the company couldn't be bothered supporting x any more I'd be mildly pissed off and would probably buy a z from some other manufacturer.

      1. PaulFrederick

        X, Y and Z are all made in the same filthy dirty factory in the far east. So you lose!

  6. dmck

    Hmm spacex.com/webcast said that the launch would happen on Wednesday when I checked at 23:30 last night. Is that not official ?

  7. ravenviz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    after an hour, the spacecraft restarted, re-orientated itself and sent a message back to Earth

    Isn't it great when stuff just works!

  8. Katie Saucey
    Boffin

    TESS GNC issue

    Guidance and navigation issue? Just point it up!

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: TESS GNC issue

      Well maybe the plumb line broke and they need hang a new one from the top of the rocket. I mean, that's why rockets are so bloody tall, isn't it - so they can house a super-long plumb line inside for extra-precise detection of which way "up" is...?

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: TESS GNC issue

        No, the rockets are so tall for the extra long pendulum they use for the clock in the timing system - they can't reset it once it's off the ground, don't'cha know.

      2. PNGuinn
        Joke

        Re: TESS GNC issue

        Good BOFH excuse:

        "Sorry, we've run right out of long plumb lines. Waiting for the manufacturer to deliver more string."

    2. Dave Bell

      Re: TESS GNC issue

      That doesn't even work in Kerbal Space Program.

  9. AceRimmer1980
    Coat

    Re: Turn it off and on again

    So the 15 minute delay isn't due to lightspeed limitations, it's just Roy answering the phone.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Turn it off and on again

      it's just Roy answering the phone.

      I thought he'd got a reel-to-reel answerphone now?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re-orientated itself

    Why not just reoriented?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re-orientated itself

      Why not just reoriented?

      Because orientate is a perfectly good alternative to orient - albeit not one much used in American English?

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: re-orientated itself

        Whenever I think of something getting Oriented, I get vague images of pointy straw hats and rice paddies. I'll admit that it Occidentaly confuses me so I use orientate.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: re-orientated itself

          'Orient as a verb means to "find direction" or "give direction." The noun form of this kind of orienting is orientation.

          Sometimes people in their speech will form an imagined verb from orientation and say orientate. At best, orientate is a back-formation used humorously to make the speaker sound pompous. The correct word is the verb orient.'

          - http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000245.htm

          1. A K Stiles
            Headmaster

            Re: re-orientated itself

            Orientate as a word has been in usage in British English for approximately 200 years. After that length of time I'm not sure there's any validity to the suggestion that it is not 'correct'. In my UK experience, it is much more common than 'orient' which I've only ever heard uttered by folks from the ex-colonies (US, Oz, Southern Africa).

            from The OED

            "ORIENTATE: More commonly used in British English than orient, while the latter is the more frequent of the two in American English. Orientate is commonly regarded as an incorrect usage in American English."

          2. tfb Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: re-orientated itself

            'Orient' originally meant 'east' or 'to face east' as a verb, which was an important thing to people who build churches. The verb then got generalised to mean 'to face in a well-defined direction', and a new noun was invented, 'orientation'. In turn a new verb was invented from that, 'orientate', by analogy with 'levitate' / 'levitation', 'remonstrate' / 'remonstration' and so on.

            That's how language works: people invent new words, and if people use them then they are correct.

            1. A K Stiles

              Re: re-orientated itself

              "That's how language works: people invent new words, and if people use them then they are correct."

              Unless you're French apparently... </sarc>

              From the OED link above,

              Orientated, adj (1857). Oriented, adj (1875). Unlike many 'Americanisms', it appears that this one isn't actually a case of America retaining an older usage whilst the British evolved the language further. Interesting.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Whenever I think of something getting Oriented

          I think of facing towards Mecca. I don't know if that is a good thing for a satellite.

          1. PNGuinn
            Coat

            Re: Whenever I think of something getting Oriented

            "I think of facing towards Mecca. I don't know if that is a good thing for a satellite."

            Bingo!

            Ok I'm going ....

        3. PNGuinn
          Coat

          Re: re-orientated itself

          Now you've done it ArrZar - you've got me imagining a spinning oriental potentate.

          NURSE!

          >>... It's the one that buttons up at the back, thanks.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does not compare

    "Makers of certain consumer electronics should take note that it is possible to create an update that both extends the life of a device and improves its performance."

    I bet ESA would have sent brand-new hardware if they could. These things take years to build and reach their destination. Can't really compare that to continuous integration of hardware evolution in consumer devices.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Psychological Projection

    That is what the author is doing here.

    "NASA reported that the TESS spacecraft itself remains in excellent health as it perches nervously on top of the Falcon 9."

  13. The Nazz Silver badge

    Should i be miffed?

    "Makers of certain consumer electronics should take note that it is possible to create an update that both extends the life of a device and improves its performance."

    I mentioned this to the SO and she only had one word to say : VIAGRA

    Should i be miffed?

    She then mumbled something about being traded in for a younger model.

  14. harmjschoonhoven
    Thumb Up

    All about TESS

    TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will seek worlds close to home. It is designed to spot planets orbiting nearby bright stars.

    Read the story here.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As computers shrink...

    Instead of having a computer, they could have dozens. Like a committee.

    Mike: "Bob's got the update, and he's busy rebooting. Oh dear, he just locked up. We'll restore him."

    Patty: "Oh Fred's just packed it in. He's dead. We've decided to turned him off. RIP Fred."

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: As computers shrink...

      Well, yes... answers by concensus.

      But I have a vague memory of the first(?) space shuttle launch, which sat on the pad for a while as four computers argued with a fifth, built by a different maker. It was right; they were wrong...

  16. Pat Harkin

    It took an hour to reboot?

    What's are they running - Vista?

    1. A K Stiles
      Coat

      Re: It took an hour to reboot?

      28 minutes to send the reboot command, 4 minutes to reboot and self-test and transmit the reply message, 28 minutes to send the response back to earth, or thereabout I suspect.

      Did I miss your joke icon?

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