"The software in question is designed to constantly monitor the positions of the sun-tracking arrays and warn flight controllers of possible rocket plume contamination or excessive structural loads, Sources said the new monitoring software - and the training needed to use it - likely cannot be formally certified before Discovery's current December launch window closes."Now there are really two things that could be going on here at NASA in my humble opinion.
"Instead, engineers hope to have a workable system in place by Dec. 7, although details about what needs to be done are not yet clear."
The first is that the engineers in charge of this software development are covering their behinds by asking for excessive time to complete the software. "Want to cut my time short? We can't guarantee bupkis then..." NASA managers sense this stupidity, and ignore.
The second thing that could be going on is that the engineers in charge of this software actually mean what they say when they say they "hope" to have a workable system done on time. That's usually a code word for: "We're eager to work... We'll agree to your insanity just to please you but we have no clue how to do it... Safe? We'll we hope so..."
Or at least that's a common line of thinking where I come from in any event.
In the "covering your behind" scenario you'd figure NASA would want to delay the launch until it was absolutely sure this new software had the "seal of approval" it needs.
We aren't talking about some temporary system here by the looks of it. Future updates to it might happen, but just what is the risks involved in using "workable" software in the first place?
Put it another way, would you feel comfortable flying in a plane with software that governed a permanent power system that was only "workable"? Even for a short period of time?
Why the rush anyways to launch?
"When the shuttle's flight control software was developed in the 1970s, NASA managers did not envision the possibility of flying missions during the transition from one year to the next. Internal clocks, instead of rolling over to Jan. 1, 2007, would simply keep counting up, putting them at odds with navigation systems on the ground."
And now you know why saying "Happy New Year" on the shuttle is a big no-no.