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History provides enough examples of failed missions due to software failure. If the mission system is still physically intact (ISS best example but very close to Earth making the examole maybe less challengung), do they provide "update and reboot" nowadays? How is this done, are there regular updates as well? To narrow the scope of the question: what are examples more on that (specs), if they exist? Doubt there is an "apt get" our there?

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    $\begingroup$ Software updates during ISS ops are routine; I've generated them myself. I'm talking about data that goes into the crew laptops. Are you asking about something more specific? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 9 '18 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ Not apt-get, it is essentially ordinary software development/devops task with the custom methodologies. The difference is that testing requirements are extremely high. As far I know, firmware solutions are much more preferred as embedded things in this world. $\endgroup$ – peterh says reinstate Monica Jan 9 '18 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ As an experiment I have literally performed an apt-get upgrade on a spacecraft (albeit sourced from a dedicated apt repository on the ground station server, not the public internet). We ended up changing to push-style updates operationally though (upload a handful of debs and dpkg -i) $\endgroup$ – pericynthion Jan 9 '18 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ The networks used to communicate with the spacecraft also have updates, which in some cases, include a complete change in the software language (e.g., DSN has changed languages since the launch of Wind and Voyager at least once). $\endgroup$ – honeste_vivere Jan 19 '18 at 15:54
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Nearly all, if not all, modern spacecraft are designed to accept software updates. Updates are done often to enhance capability and to work around failures of hardware.

As to how its done, after extensive testing on the ground either a patch or a complete new copy of the flight software is uploaded to the spacecraft. The upload is carefully verified. Then the patch is applied or the vehicle reboots to the new image. There is always a safeguard in place, where for example either the previous image or a golden image is kept on board, which is automatically rebooted to in the event of a fatal software error in the new or patched load.

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    $\begingroup$ hi, @Mark Adler, thanks for your answer; are there any numbers on state of the art most distant updates performed so far and their sizes? $\endgroup$ – J. Doe Jan 9 '18 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ The farthest would be the Voyagers flight software load in 1990 after the Neptune encounter. I don't know the size, but it must have been less than 70 KB, since that's how much memory they have. $\endgroup$ – Mark Adler Jan 9 '18 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ thx - here is the source - popularmechanics.com/space/a17991/… $\endgroup$ – J. Doe Jan 9 '18 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkAdler You forgot New Horizons, which received one fairly recently, and I rather suspect was further then Voyager. theregister.co.uk/2017/09/14/… $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 9 '18 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, I totally forgot about New Horizons. They uploaded some new fault protection software last October, which is very likely the farthest upload. $\endgroup$ – Mark Adler Jan 9 '18 at 21:53

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