Xbox 360 Is More Powerful Than Space Shuttle’s Flight Computer

Xbox 360 Is More Powerful Than Space Shuttle’s Flight Computer

Space Shuttle Atlantis is fuelled, packed with astronauts, supplies and experiments, and waiting to roar its way into space as part of STS-135, the space shuttle program’s final mission.

We’ve checked out a shuttle cockpit, now how about some fun facts?

The Huntsville Times put together this fun little break down of weird facts about the space shuttle. Did you know:

An Xbox 360 has more power than the shuttle’s flight computer? “The flight computer aboard the space shuttle has less than one percent of the power of an Xbox 360 game console. Astronauts load programs directing the phases of a mission – liftoff, orbit, landing – into the computer one at a time after removing the program for the previous segment. Why hasn’t NASA upgraded the computer? The agency values its 30-year history of reliability. That said, astronauts don’t go into space with only one computer. Crew laptops and other laptops also make the trip.”

Each launch gets its own patch


It’s a fuel sucker “If the orbiter’s main engines pumped water instead of fuel, they would drain an average-sized swimming pool every 25 seconds. Because liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel the main engines, the majority of exhaust produced is water vapor.”

It lands on Michelin tyres “The orbiter lands on special Michelin tires not much larger than truck tires. Like most aviation tires, the shuttle’s tires are filled with nitrogen to a pressure of 340 psi. Michelin says “a main landing gear tire can carry three times the load of a Boeing 747 tire or the entire starting line-up of a NASCAR race – 40 race cars – all hitting the pavement at up to 250 miles per hour (402km/h).”

Check out the launch live here (if they weather holds) and the rest of these fun facts here.

You can also stick around and chat about the hopeful launch and watch it on the site below.


  • rather poor titled article since essentially anything is more powerful than the space shuttle computer.

    I also assume it’s in large part to it being very hard for multiple programs to interfere with each other

  • When I was a computer science student at university (back when dinosaurs walked the earth) they told us that NASA have a large book that lists all the known bugs/glitches/defects in the shuttle’s computer software. But they don’t actually fix any of them. The thinking being that it’s better to have a bug that you know about and can work around rather than fix it and risk introducing a new bug in the process that you DON’T know about.

  • All jokes about NASA standing for Need Another Seven Astronauts aside, I understand their fear. You send something worth billions of dollars into space and if it works you don’t f**k with it. It’s not like overclocking your processor where if it melts you go buy a new one.

    But still you’d think they would have made some sort of upgrade with that much time on their hands.

  • Fun fact about the space shuttle. Reentry is 99% of the time controlled by computers. But that pesky 1%? STS-2, the entire reentry sequence was flown by hand.

  • the computer system on the shuttle is based on 5 miltery grade intel 386 processors. The majority have to agree for things to happen etc.

    If you really want to read about the system the shuttle uses, look up “they Write the Right Stuff”

  • Given how much their budget has been cut again and again NASA can’t afford an Xbox 360 😛 *refrains from horrendous rant*

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