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The 45 Anniversary of the Moon Landing & the IBM Mainframe
Mary Hall 0600011C92 firstname.lastname@example.org | | 3,219 Visits
July 20th marks the 45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing. One of the astronauts from the historic journey, Colonel Buzz Aldrin has been making a series of public appearances at special events to celebrate the Apollo 45 Anniversary. In seeing Col. Aldrin this week in Los Angeles, I was reminded that the IBM Mainframe was part of the historic Apollo 11 Moon Landing. IBM Research worked with NASA to help develop the technology to put a man on the moon. Here's how the IBM Mainframe helped the astronauts make it to the moon.
The Apollo 11 contained a Saturn instrument unit which was the computer nerve center for the launch vehicle. IBM engineers and technicians at the George Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama programmed this Saturn unit. At NASA Space Center, IBM Researchers sat at consoles beside the NASA flight directors, making the minute-by-minute analyses needed to navigate the spacecraft from Earth orbit to lunar orbit and back.
More IBM employees at the Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, DC, developed the worldwide network of relay stations and ships to track and communicate with the spacecraft. Employees at IBM in Owego, NY, and other locations invented and built the miniaturized integrated circuitry used to shrink the equivalent of an IBM System/360 mainframe down from the size of a refrigerator to that of a suitcase—and made it rugged enough to blast into space. Behind the scenes the IBM Mainframe processed the data & mathematical calculations needed for the mission to the moon. An IBM System/360 (Model 75) processed the data for the first lunar landing 240,000 miles away from the moon at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.
Gene Kranz was the flight director on duty on July 20, 1969, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin separated Apollo’s lunar module from the command/service module and began their successful descent to the surface of the moon. “The systems information that we used to make the go, no-go decisions was developed by IBM, and the ultimate go, no-go decision [that day] was provided to me by computers operated by IBM engineers within NASA’s Mission Control Center. Without IBM and the systems they provided, we would not have landed on the Moon," notes Mr. Kranz.
Without the IBM Mainframe and the contributions of IBM researchers & employees, Buzz Aldrin wouldn't have been able to bring a piece of the moon back to earth or have walked on the moon. In the last 50 years, it's truly amazing how many things the IBM Mainframe made possible. This week we're reminded that the first Moonwalk might not have happened without the talent of IBM employees and Mainframe technology.