Tech UPTechnologyThis was the technology on board Apollo 11 and...

This was the technology on board Apollo 11 and it took us to the Moon

There is one month left until the arrival of humans on the Moon celebrates its 52nd anniversary. A historical fact that has been pursuing for more than a decade. The United States overtook the Soviet Union in a dizzying space race. But what is surprising if we look back is that the technology that put 2 men on our satellite while another orbited, is light years away from that of a smartphone right now.

Why was the Apollo 11 technology revolutionary?

Despite the incredible technological abyss of that mission that we currently enjoy, Apollo 11 was relevant for having computers that used microchips . The premiere of these components took place in history in this mission, and came to replace valves as an element of computers. There was still a decade left before home computers started flooding into homes. Until then, computers occupied entire rooms and had a high energy consumption.

To get an idea of how the technology was if we compare it with the current one, the computer that controlled the command module had a 4 kb RAM memory and 32 kb of ROM. Think that your mobile phone will probably have 2 GB of RAM, and that your laptop, between 4 and 8 GB. But what the engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology achieved should not be overlooked. The computer weighed only 32 kilos and cost $ 150,000 in 1969. Today that amount equals $ 1,110,000.

But a computer without an operating system or programs is useless. This was done by software engineer Margaret Hamilton, who was able to put in place the necessary mechanisms to make everything work. The design had a very clever perspective, a machine running at 85% capacity. The rest was preserved as a safety margin, since it was not known exactly how the computer was going to behave in flight. The way in which this engineer devised the software was based on a robust and highly hierarchical system, in such a way that if any process collapsed, the computer was capable of making a safe decision. In fact, during the final phase, the computer reported 2 failures, with codes 1201 and 1202. But the genius idea of the hierarchy allowed the descent to proceed without further inconvenience and safely.

Apollo 11 technology in perspective

Although it may be possible to think that the technology of Apollo 11 is almost a toy compared to that of today, nothing is further from the truth. The Apollo missions were ahead of their time when it came to technology. What there is may seem simple, in fact 50 years later it still is not, in the 60s it was a challenge that involved many teams. The success of the mission was due to many factors, including the very high training of engineers, mathematicians, designers , in addition to the great training that those 3 men possessed. Putting a manned object on the satellite and returning alive proved possible.

What we see today as something everyday, for example, downloading an app, is largely the result of those men and women overcoming a huge number of challenges and were able to respond to all the inconveniences that arose. The mobile phone from which you read this article is considerably more powerful than the Apollo Guidance Computer, but it consisted of a tiny screen and a numeric keypad. The sequence of actions was carried out by means of a sequence of 2 digits, each of which gave an order.

Although we think that the arrival of the human being on the Moon was the culmination of years of work, we must not forget that the impact it caused continues 52 years later. And it will continue to do so for generations.

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