One of the recurring themes of science fiction is that of man’s creations rebelling against them. From Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein to Arthur Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, audiences worldwide have revelled in the exploits of homicidal monsters wreaking a terrible revenge on their creators. On April 10, 1981 the world’s first true spacecraft, the reusable shuttle, Columbia, sat on pad 39 at the Kennedy Space Centre. Thirty hours before the scheduled launch time, the primary computer system encountered a problem.
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