Monday, December 20, 2010

Apollo 11 - almost lost due to software errors, saved by a ten year old

Thanks to several movies, including Ron Howard's hit of the same name, the general public is well aware of Apollo 13's story.  The short version: rocket launches, capsule heads to moon, oxygen yank ruptures, astronauts get really cold and move to command module, ground crew devises a jury rigged CO2 scrubber, astronauts breathe a little easier, capsule returns, everyone cheers, movies are made.  However, if you study NASA's history closer you will find that many other missions had hiccups that could have been disastrous.  The latest issue of Apogee's Peak of Flight Newsletter (#276) has an interesting recap of the problems encountered during Apollo 11. The byline is, "A lot more than you've been told."  I quickly glanced at the Wikipedia entry for Apollo 11 and some of said problems are discussed.  Still, Bart Hennin's article in the newsletter is an interesting read.