OT: NASA programming (was: Re: !Re: Nuke Redmond!)

From: Mark Tapley <mtapley_at_swri.edu>
Date: Sun Apr 9 16:13:33 2000

Richard Erlacher said,

>The conventional wisdom where NASA is concerned, is that they HAD high
>standards through the Apollo program and that shortly thereafter, a lot of
>people left and apparently took vital talents with them. I've not worked
>directly with NASA people in a very long time, and can't agree or disagree
>with that view.

I'm working at NASA right this very minute. I think it's pretty much
impossible to categorize "NASA" as a single monolithic coding entity. Here
at GSFC, there's one group running the ground system that is very
conscientious and writes good code, with input checks, comments, version
control, descriptive variable names, etc., and properly tests the code
before running it for real. Then there's another group where their
acceptance test run of the code (which I observed) gave a list of internal
tests, all saying "passed". But when I asked exactly what each test did, it
turned out that *half* of them did nothing other than print up the word
"passed". This was flight code, btw, and they had not told us of any plans
to upgrade it. It's better now, and fortunately is not critical to the
mission in any case. But the bottom line is that even within a single NASA
field center, there's a *lot* of variation.
                                                        - Mark
Received on Sun Apr 09 2000 - 16:13:33 BST

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