Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

NASA says computer hacker never endangered astronauts
Posted: July 4, 2000

Space shuttle Atlantis as seen from the Russian space station Mir during a docking mission. Photo: NASA
News reports that a computer hacker endangered the lives of Space Shuttle astronauts during a 1997 mission are wrong. A report from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said a hacker compromised NASA computers, endangering the lives of American astronauts.

NASA's Inspector General's office found that during the STS-86 mission in September of 1997, the transmission of routine medical information was slightly delayed due to a computer hacker. However, the transmission was successfully completed.

At no time was communication between NASA and the astronauts compromised. The communication interruption occurred between internal ground-based computer systems.

There has never been an interruption of communication service with the Shuttle due to computer hacker attacks. The command and control communications links between Mission Control and a Space Shuttle in orbit are extremely well insulated.

The 1997 incident is currently under investigation by NASA Inspector General's office.