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The group writes software this good because that’s how good it has to be.

Every time it fires up the shuttle, their software is controlling a $4 billion piece of equipment, the lives of a half-dozen astronauts, and the dreams of the nation.

If you bought a car with 5,000 defects, you’d be very upset.”In this software morass, the on-board shuttle group stands out as an exception.

Ten years ago the shuttle group was considered world-class. To be this good, the on-board shuttle group has to be very different — the antithesis of the up-all-night, pizza-and-roller-hockey software coders who have captured the public imagination. And three diet Cokes.”No, it’s not the on-board shuttle group.

And at that exact same moment, the computers give the order for the explosive bolts to blow, and 4.5 million pounds of spacecraft lifts majestically off its launch pad. But no human pushes a button to make it happen, no astronaut jockeys a joy stick to settle the shuttle into orbit. The software gives the orders to gimbal the main engines, executing the dramatic belly roll the shuttle does soon after it clears the tower.