July 3, 2000
Bob Jacobs/Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Ed Campion/Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
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.
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