The Apollo Guidance Computer

In researching my previous post, I talked about the delta-vs planned for Apollo 8. In the Apollo Flight Journal, there’s commentary breaking down the items that were entered for each maneuver. They were all handled by the Apollo Guidance Computer. First off, it floors me that they spent time relaying data by voice which just had to be entered into the computer, when an upload by the ground with a read back from the crew would likely have an improved error rate, and it would still give the crew insight into what was going on so that they weren’t just ‘flying by black box.’ Though given other text in the AFJ, there’s talk of ‘getting your computer back.’

Secondly, I’m impressed that the computer could handle calculations of delta-v in three axes. A simpler way to accomplish the same thing would have been for the astronauts to enter an attitude and a thruster on time. The inertial guidance would be able to determine how much delta-v was applied, which could then update computers on the ground. I’d love to have seen the trades discussed in that development.

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