From time-to-time spacecraft have had to be rebooted, in one case Voyager 2 mutinied and had to be reprogrammed and in another Opportunity had it's memory "hacked".

As far as I know, deep space spacecraft have always been designed with some capability to receive and store instructions and execute them at a later time, both "bus-like" for propulsion and navigation, and "payload-like" for science payloads, but the first Earth orbiting spacecraft were so primitive that they didn't have anything close to memory or a computer (see also first transistor and last tube (valve) in space).

Question: What was the first spacecraft to receive an unplanned "over-the-air" software update or reprogramming of some kind in space during a mission?

This should be something that was not anticipated or expected, even though a provision for such an eventuality existed or was discovered in a pinch.

If there are different "firsts" for deep-space and Earth orbit missions, it would be good to hear about both.

  • $\begingroup$ I first thought about asking "What are the most notable..." but that might turn into a long list. It could still be asked separately. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Dec 21 '19 at 9:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't understand what you mean by 'unplanned'. You have to foresee an option to reprogram a computer in the code it's running before launch, otherwise you can't reprogram it. $\endgroup$
    – asdfex
    Dec 21 '19 at 19:14
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I would say the reprogramming of Apollo guidance computer(s) are good contenders: history.nasa.gov/SP-350/ch-7-4.html $\endgroup$ Dec 21 '19 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ @asdfex allowing for the possibility of reprogramming doesn't mean you plan on doing it. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Dec 22 '19 at 0:36

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