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Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight (The MIT Press)

characters õ eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ David A. Mindell

Se the author assumes this and does not look back once he gets going as should be the caseThe book details the development of the AGC and its precursors from the beginning gets going as should be the caseThe book details the development of the AGC and its #precursors from the beginning spending lots of time at both NASA and the MIT lab The details are #from the beginning spending lots of time at both NASA and the MIT lab The details are and the storytelling clear and generally compelling He covers both the technical details and the political managerial and engineering drivers and decisions that brought about the ACG as we know it todayIf you want to about the ACG as we know it todayIf you want to how Apollo could fly to the moon land there and come home on roughly 36k of program memory and 2k of RAM this book will finally tell you how This is to date the best examination and explanation of the computer partners to the astronauts in the Gemini Apollo and Shuttle programs I ve read dozens of books and papers on the LM alone and still had no concept of how advanced the AGC software was itself As a retired software engineer who s entire career took place long after the moon landings my concept of the crudity and limitations of the AGC has been completely upended What has always been a healthy respect for the software engineers at MIT has been upgraded to a worshipful awe of these people and the magic they wroughtThis is a must read for anyone for whom America s space program holds fascination Today s programmers and engineers should also check it out to learn or relearn how to design and write tight bulletproof software A highly readable description of the Apollo computer system The major revelation is the ingenuity that went into building a dedicated computer system that effectively interfaced and communicated with the crew Stretching the limits of the technology available first generation logic packages and magnetic core memory they built a system that allowed the crews to directly interact in real time with the computer systems in an era of punch cards and batch processing The Apollo CM computer was essential to the navigation system knowing where the spacecraft was and where it was heading Many of the spacecraft functions such as firing the main engine were actually handled by the computer The constant change in mass as fuel burned and velocity changes would have been impossible for a human to uggle in real time The description of the functions of the LM computer during landing is worth the price alone The LM computer was managing inertial platform data and radar data to measure altitude and velocity while throttling the engine adjusting attitude and driving various cockpit indicators to keep the astronauts apprised of the situation In the final stage of landing the astronauts could direct the system toward a safe landing zone on the lunar surface through inputs But the entire time they never directly flew the LM the task of balancing the LM on it s descent rocket and uggling mass changes as fuel burned were all computer tasks All done employing a memory with 36K of ROM and 2K of RAMOne hears people today remarking sometimes with snark about how their cell phone has so much memory and capability Those same snarky people usually can t give even the most basic explanation of what is going on inside that phone This book pays tribute to the pioneers of early generation computing hardware and software given a very difficult task and carrying it out in an exemplary fashion And to borrow from a phrase from The Right Stuff nobody knew their names. Y engineers Digital Apollo examines the design and execution of each of the six Apollo moon landings drawing on transcripts and data telemetry from the flights astronaut interviews and NASA's extensive archives Mindell's exploration of how human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate in flighta lunar landingtraces and reframes the debate over the future of humans and automation in space The results have implications for any venture in which human roles seem threatened by automated systems whether it is the work at our desktops or the future of exploratio.
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And adapted to this new method of flying and how they in turn influenced the development of the computer and navigation system to suit their needs So unusually the book covers both the development of the technology and the psychology of the human response to thisThe author traces the development of automated guidance systems in a logical progression from the early ballistic missiles through the early experimental supersonic flights X15 etc to the NASA spacecraft of the 1960s There is a wealth of detail about how MIT who got the Apollo guidance contract without any competition which raised a few hackles developed the guidance computer from scratch This in itself is fascinating for example the programs were wound into ropes of magnetic cores by ladies with knitting needles Apollo was also the first example of fly by wire the astronauts had hand controllers for the attitude thrusters but their input had to be modified by the computer so that they got the response they expectedIn parallel with this the author describes the inevitable tensions between the stick and rudder test pilots who wanted to fly the craft and the automated guidance gurus who saw the astronauts as superfluous to piloting in space It is here that I feel the book falls down a little since the author is clearly biased in favour of the computer and against the human pilot when it comes to space flight His approach especially in the early chapters is almost patronising in this respect and nearly caused me to give up on the book in irritation However I am glad that I persevered because the later chapters are both interesting and also give a balanced account of how both men and machines adapted and learned to work with each otherTo give an example the astronauts insisted upon having an 8 ball artificial horizon built into both command and lunar modules to give them a sense of their current orientation This added weight and complexity and was considered unnecessary by some so there was a tussle between management and astronauts leading to its repeated insertion and deletion from the spacecraft The astronauts won and it is ust as well that they did because a novel use of the 8 ball was reuired to orient Apollo 13 during its manually controlled burn on the way back to the earthAnother example is the reuired to orient Apollo 13 during its manually controlled burn on the way back to the earthAnother example is the landing on the moon the lunar model had the ability to land itself but every lunar module commander took over manual control for the last few hundred feet this was true piloting and entirely ustified in the case of Apollo 11 which would otherwise have landed in a field of boulders However every simulation in which the astronauts tried to fly the lunar module by hand all the way from lunar orbit to surface resulted in a crash both sides of the argument had to recognise their limitationsIn reality it took both men and machines working together to perform a manned moon landing neither could have done it reliably on their own and had the author accepted that and written on their own and had the author accepted that and written book in a objective and unbiased fashion I would have rated it 5 stars This book is not a casual read unless you are a driven reader of space histories I am It does however fill a huge gap in available literature about the Apollo Guidance Computer It is very detailed yet flows well and is narrative enough to not feel like a dry treatise But you D Best Be Pretty best be pretty in the topic becau. Famous moment as a starting point for an exploration of the relationship between humans and computers in the Apollo program In each of the six Apollo landings the astronaut in command seized control from the computer and landed with his hand on the stick Mindell recounts the story of astronauts' desire to control their spacecraft in parallel with the history of the Apollo Guidance Computer From the early days of aviation through the birth of spaceflight test pilots and astronauts sought to be than spam in a can despite the automatic controls digital computers and software developed .
Very good not all that technical and great discussion about the role of automation which is relevant today with self driving cars 737 Max etc I am very interested in the history of the apollo missions and the computer systems that enabled them to land on the moon This book is in two halfs the first is focused on the astronauts and the pre apollo This book is in two halfs the first is focused on the astronauts and the pre apollo and training The second half focuses on the computing and technology usef Bought this book to learn about the Apollo missions computer #To Try And Understand How It All #try and understand how it all This book is nothing to do with the Apollo digital computer All a bit misleading If you want to know how man and computer work in fight the this might be for you But if you are interested in the Apollo space missions then I don t think this is the book I also found it to be very boring I ve basically can t finish the book not 100% sure why it was even written This book was a great read from cover to cover It provides great insight into the apollo program from the viewpoint of pilots and engineers I started reading this book after hearing about it from fellow engineer He suggested it as it paralleled the challenges we face of developing new technologies in parallel to the product development process I highly recommend this book to those interested in the apollo program or those who enjoy a good story behind developing technology starting with the X 15 As soon as flight controls started to be electronically enhanced a tension between pilots and automatic control systems developed I m only a small way into the book but it seems to be pulling the politics behind getting the space program funded as well as the actual technology development together It seems like each chapter can behas been developed into an entire book for instance there is an entire book about the Apollo Guidance computer and this book devotes one chapter to the AGC The same is true for the X 15 program and the divergence between pilots and astronautsThis is a good companion to TheApolloGuidanceComputer The AGC book describes thoroughly how the AGC works and how and what is connected To This Book Doesn This book doesn go into that level of detail but gives a good explanation of how and why the functionality of the AGC happened It also gives a synopsis of the last few moments of each Apollo landing on the moon The AGC book gives a better explanation of Apollo 11 s Program Alarms but this book explains why Ground Control gave the OK to continue so uickly Working in IT and having always had an interest in the Apollo missions i found this book fascinating A great history of technology advances made for Apollo and also a detailed minute by minute record of the first landing When NASA set out to recruit astronauts for the Mercury Gemini and Apollo programmes they limited their selection to test pilots mainly military with the conseuence that astronauts were pilots who wanted to fly their spacecraft However piloting in space is governed by Newtonian mechanics rather than aerodynamics and humans simply don t have the ability to navigate a spacecraft in deep space without considerable assistance from auto pilots radars gyroscopes accelerometers and inevitably computers to tie all this information togetherThis book considers the technical development of the digital computer used in the Apollo Guidance and Navigation Computer how the astronauts responded. How human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate in flightthe lunar landings of NASA's Apollo programAs Apollo 11's Lunar Module descended toward the moon under automatic control a program alarm in the guidance computer's software nearly caused a mission abort Neil Armstrong responded by switching off the automatic mode and taking direct control He stopped monitoring the computer and began flying the spacecraft relying on skill to land it and earning praise for a triumph of human over machine In Digital Apollo engineer historian David Mindell takes this. .