Apollo 11

Buzz Aldrin in the lunar module on the way down to the moon

Apollo 11 LM Interior

This interior view of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module shows Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., lunar module pilot, during the lunar landing mission. This picture was taken by Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, prior to the moon landing.

For those of you who don’t know, NASA is part of Flickr Commons: NASA on The Commons.

45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon

45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon

Alan Taylor at The Atlantic has put together a great collection of images from the Apollo 11 mission, some familiar, some I’ve never seen before. Highly recommended.

Tomorrow [today] will mark the 45th anniversary of the July 16, 1969 launch of Apollo 11, the NASA mission that first landed human beings on the Moon. Years of effort, dangerous experiments, and bold missions led up to the Moon landing, an event watched on live television by millions around the world. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin left the Earth on a Wednesday, landed on the Moon on that Sunday, spent a bit more than two hours walking on its surface, deploying experiments and collecting samples, then splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean the following Thursday, after 8 days off-planet. Collected here are 45 images of that historic mission, a “giant leap for mankind,” 45 years ago.

Weaving the way to the Moon

Weaving the way to the Moon

The BBC has put together a great back story on the building and programming of the computer aboard Apollo 11 that guided and controlled the trip to and from the moon. The video interviews are amazing as is the entire story.

Programming the computer, doing navigation with the sextant, and wrapping the “rope cores.” Gad. It was an amazing feat but given this piece of the technology it was even more amazing. Building an iPhone app looks like child’s play compared to this stuff.

However, the entire computer was not so hi-tech. In order to make sure that the software was robust it was “woven” into so-called “rope core memories”.

These used copper wires threaded through or around tiny magnetic cores to produce the ones and zeroes of binary code at the heart of the software.

Pass the copper wire through the core and the computer read it as a one. Pass it around and it was read as a zero.

“Once you get it wired it’s not going to change without breaking those wires,” said Mr Hall. The rope core memories would become know as “LOL memory” after the “little old ladies” who knitted together the software at a factory just outside Boston.

These ladies would sit in pairs with a memory unit between them, threading metres and metres of slender copper wires through and around the cores.