Lisping at JPL ("story of the rise and fall of Lisp at JPL")

Lisping at JPL by Ron Garret, 2002 (must have read this at least a couple of times previously, but recently it popped up on HN - not for the first time.)

The Remote Agent software, running on a custom port of Harlequin Common Lisp, flew aboard Deep Space 1 (DS1), and controlled DS1 for two days in May of 1999. During that time we were able to debug and fix a race condition that had not shown up during ground testing. (Debugging a program running on a $100M piece of hardware that is 100 million miles away is an interesting experience. Having a read-eval-print loop running on the spacecraft proved invaluable in finding and fixing the problem. The story of the Remote Agent bug is an interesting one in and of itself.)


Never underestimate the value of debug via printf …


That’s what’s always fascinated me about this story - a REPL over 100 million miles.

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