Exactly 50 years ago, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the surface of earth’s satellite, the moon. This event occurred during the space mission “Apollo 11”, which lasted from 16 to 24 July 1969. Of course, before the implementation of the first step, the astronauts had to land on the moon a huge spaceship, and they really helped on-Board computer called the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC). This computer is truly amazing because he was able to control the motion of the vehicle being much weaker than a modern iPhone.
Development of computer was started in the 1950-ies, the laboratory of the technological University of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The team of engineers had a seemingly impossible task — they had to create a small computer that could fit inside the spacecraft and monitor his every move. In those days, such complex calculations barely made it through even huge computers the size of a closet.
Flight to the moon
Besides the fact that the computer had to be compact, it needed to consume minimum power — about like a regular light bulb. The fact that the spacecraft “Apollo 11” had very little fuel, and saving energy was very important. With all this, the creators had to come up with for computer a durable case that would protect the internal components from vibration and shock occurring during the flight.
The Apollo Guidance computer (AGC)
The creation of the computer left a dozen years, so it is not surprising that at the time of Assembly of the final version, some of used technologies are outdated. Ultimately we developed two computer AGC, one of which is located in the command module of spacecraft “Apollo-11”, where chairs for all three astronauts, and the second in the lunar module, which sat on the surface of the satellite.
The lunar module “Apollo 11”
Externally, on-Board computer “Apollo 11” was like a calculator with two screens. The astronauts ran it with the keyboard, inserting two digits representing the action part of the ship, which must carry it out. How the astronauts interacted with the computer, you can watch the 1995 film “Apollo 13” with Tom Hanks (the events in the movie happened after the first landing of men on the moon).
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Features on-Board computer “Apollo 11”
In terms of power computer space ship was the weaker of the electronics installed in modern toys. He worked at a frequency of 2 megahertz, whereas the processors installed on new computers that operate at a frequency of about 3,000 MHz. The memory was 72 kilobytes is 70 times less than that of floppy disks (remember those square drives that are inserted into the disk drives of the computers of the late 1990-ies?). Permanent memory of the computer stored required for the flight program.
Computer “Apollo 11” could remember less than a floppy disk
He could perform 40,000 operations per second, whereas modern iPhone for the same time performs 5 trillion operations. It turns out that he was weaker smartphone 25 million times.
Computer error “Apollo-11”
The program was written by a woman named Margaret Hamilton, thanks to the work from which the space vehicle “Apollo-11” one day escaped serious errors during the descent to the moon. The fact that three minutes before landing, the equipment of the ship gave some alarm. It turned out that the computer started to attempt more tasks than they could handle, but the so-called asynchronous execution, which was developed by Margaret, was able to resume operation of the computer.
Hamilton and the programs for “Apollo 11”
Following the moon landing
As you can see, landing craft on the lunar surface in the past century people did not need very powerful computers. Return man to the moon could happen in the next 10 years. Space Agency NASA wants to do this in the framework of the “Artemis” and was already developing a lander. The head of the company SpaceX wants to return people to the moon as early as 2023 , for this he wants to use the space ship Starship.