Great story and achievement. The author might oversell it at the end except for the 20 min part which he owns. Far as patching spacecraft live, Ron Garret (“lisper”) did something similar debugging a spacecraft over two days which required back and forth communication. It was also a race condition which are notoriously hard to find… in real-time. So, I’d put them both in the same category.
“ The Remote Agent software, running on a custom port of Harlequin Common Lisp, flew aboard Deep Space 1 (DS1), the first mission of NASA’s New Millennium program. Remote Agent controlled DS1 for two days in May of 1999. During that time we were able to debug and fix a race condition that had not shown up during ground testing. (Debugging a program running on a $100M piece of hardware that is 100 million miles away is an interesting experience. Having a read-eval-print loop running on the spacecraft proved invaluable in finding and fixing the problem. The story of the Remote Agent bug is an interesting one in and of itself.)
The Remote Agent was subsequently named “NASA Software of the Year”.”