By Alan Boyle
Dec 7, 2006
Even as it prepares for its first nighttime shuttle launch in four
years, NASA has clamped down on its computer network policies, due to
security concerns raised about documents sent as e-mail attachments.
Shuttle planners were reportedly adjusting their e-mail routines to
accommodate the new network limits, and the policy change wasn't
expected to impact plans to launch the shuttle Discovery on its 12-day
mission to the international space station. Liftoff is scheduled at 9:35
p.m. ET Thursday, although unacceptable weather conditions could force a
Representatives at NASA Headquarters told MSNBC.com on Thursday that the
new limits would block the receipt of Microsoft Word documents coming in
to the space agency's core computer network as e-mail attachments.
(MSNBC.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
The limits were instituted Wednesday night in response to an advisory
from Microsoft that such attachments could be used maliciously to gain
unauthorized access to the network, said Grey Hautaluoma, a spokesman at
"There is that concern right now," Hautaluoma said. "We're working
NASASpaceFlight.com, an independent online news outlet, reported that a
memo went out  from shuttle program manager Wayne Hale asking his
team to assess whether the limits might have a "severe mission impact."
Jennifer Tharpe, an information specialist at NASA's Kennedy Space
Center in Florida, told MSNBC.com that the shuttle team determined the
workarounds would be sufficient for operations during Discovery's
It is a precautionary measure, Tharpe said of the e-mail limits.
Typically, we dont discuss matters of IT security. But it has no
operational impact on the shuttle launch. There are several workarounds,
and its just not an issue.
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