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the nasa - ebay conspiracy theory - Printable Version

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the nasa - ebay conspiracy theory - db (martinez, ca.) - 05-20-2002

there was a thread a while back about a fictional "industrial buyer". maybe he wasn't so fictional; is nasa buying up all the mint 41's to use as backup landing and antena targeting computers? and maybe they are the ones that bought the $2000 hp65, just in case they revive the apollo-soyuze program. not. but here is the article anyway.

By Corinne Podger BBC science reporter May 13

The American space agency (Nasa) has begun trawling the internet for spare parts for its shuttles, according to United Space Alliance, the company that runs the shuttle fleet.
The shuttles, first launched in 1981, often rely on computer components that are so out of date, they are no longer made.
The orbiters even use a type of computer disk drive that was outmoded by the end of the 1970s.
Nasa is hunting internet sale and auction sites like Yahoo and e-Bay for shuttle parts that are so antiquated, they would be unrecognisable to the average computer user today.
The agency is particularly short of a type of Intel computer chip known as the 8086.
A chip similar to this was used to power the first personal computers made by IBM in 1981 - the same year as the first shuttle launch.
'Scavenger hunt'
The shuttle operators also need eight-inch floppy disk drives that went out of fashion nearly 20 years ago, and have long since been replaced by much smaller disk drives and CD-Roms.
Nasa is looking for stockpiles of old parts it can buy in bulk to repair old machinery, as well as keeping some spare for future use.
The internet search has been described as ''a scavenger hunt'' by Jeff Carr, spokesman for the Houston-based United Space Alliance.
However, the parts will be needed for at least the next 10 years, with the shuttle due to remain in service until 2012 - and there is a possibility of that being extended to 2020.

Re: the nasa - ebay conspiracy theory - Thibaut.be - 05-21-2002

Bursted into laughter ! Really, just imagine this a bit seriously...

Re: the nasa - ebay conspiracy theory - could be true - Tom (UK) - 05-21-2002

Yes I can beleive it. Even if NASA never sent the second-hand stuff into space they still need units to train people on or to use in simulators. Wether this is only for computer gear or extends to old HP calculators I don't know, I thought they used the HP48GX (did the French Concord use the HP41? I think I recall some-one asking a question on this forum about that.)

I used to work in a section looking at obsolete parts and although we never resorted to buying second-hand items we did scan all sources for items. Like NASA I guess no company orders enough parts to truely cover the expected life span of products.

The consequencies of not having a small part could mean that whole sections of computer gear would have to be redesigned at a high cost just to stand still.

Re: the nasa - ebay conspiracy theory - could be true - Thibaut.be - 05-21-2002

So XEQ [LANDME] is more than a legend ?

Re: the nasa - ebay conspiracy theory - Ellis Easley - 05-21-2002

There used to be a magazine called Computer Shopper which started out as a thin pulp that was largely classified ads for all brands of computers. I found some of my most unusual things there, like my Western Digital Pascal Microengine for which I would sure like to find someone who has a working system and could provide me with a boot disk!

But in those classified ads, for all the time that I subscribed, there was an ad looking for some Burroughs displays, it sounded like a large Nixie-type display. Every month the ad was there. I always figured it was a business looking for out of production components to keep a system up.

I noticed it mainly because I was always looking for a "Panaplex" 16 digit plasma display for my Compucorp calculator (finally found a complete one, swapped the display, and finally learned my original one was working!)(Once I found a Monroe that had the 12 or 14 digit version)(One day, I mean to adapt the original Compucorp to LEDs)

Re: the nasa - ebay conspiracy theory - could be true - Ellis Easley - 05-22-2002

Now, I think there was another running classified ad in the Computer Shopper classified ads, looking for a certain 8 inch floppy drive. I think it might have been a Percsi (sp?) model that was a dual drive that used the same motor to spin both disks.