La Satira News Service
The failure earlier of the launch of the Kronos 1a space probe earlier this week was caused by a malicious piece of software installed as part of a birthday prank executed by one engineer against another, the Space Agency has announced.
“It was supposed to be an innocent prank,” said Charles Jaeger, a spokesman for Laurel-Liverwurst Laboratories, where the satellite was assembled. “Of course they say that about most of them–that they’re innocent. Anyway, one of our engineers was turning 40, so another engineer decided to play a small practical joke.”
The essence of the joke was based on the old saying that “40 is the new 30.” The errant software was programmed such that every time the number 40 appeared on the subject’s computer screen, the computer would display 30 instead.
“It seems the subject of the joke was working on the specifications for the rocket control systems that day, and instead of merely displaying 40 as 30, the computer program replaced 40 with 30 in the actual saved data,” Mr. Jaeger explained. “As a result, the specifications calculated were 25% below what they should have been.” This led to a faulty course correction, and the probe was lost en route to its intended destination, Saturn–ironically named after the Roman god of (among other things) time.
Mr. Jaeger insists that practical lessons have been learned from the event, and that better controls have been instituted on who can install what software on the computers used for sensitive projects. Another lesson was more philosophical.
“Sometimes 40 really does mean 40,” conceded Mr. Jaeger. “And sometimes it’s important for it to do so.”