The Laptop of Humanity

Photo of ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet using a makeshift ThinkPad VR headset
Photo belongs to Thomas Pesquet, ESA (source: Twitter)

So here's a photo of French astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard the International Space Station in late 2016, showing what can only be described as a makeshift VR headset powered by a very particular machine.

A ThinkPad.

The International Space Station is perhaps the greatest observable symbol of human advancement, achievement, and international cooperation. Despite cultural and political differences, we as a species took to the stars seeking an outpost to study and experiment beyond the lands of our blue marble. I suspect it must be humbling for IBM and Lenovo to know that their respective companies' work is still central to the station's operations as ThinkPads remain the majority workstation of choice on ISS.

As late as 2012 in fact, ThinkPads were the only laptop certified for spatial use. Lenovo's own blog post lists these among the following as important space-ThinkPad statistics:

Since that blog post, more information and developments have occurred:

I was aware of most of these facts before hand, but seeing that photo rekindled the sense of reassurance I got from knowing them, since if they're tough enough for NASA, they're obviously gonna serve lowly me well too! The fact that some A31p machines from 2003 are still in service aboard ISS proves how venerable, reliable, and long-lived they are! And when I let that sink in, I think about how well my fleet has served me since inception!


This article was originally published on my old blog that I no longer update as of July 2020. Whilst the two versions of this article are mostly the same, there may be subtle differences between this and the original. This one is the most updated version and takes precedence.