“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”
It’s an amazing listen, and you can easily believe their claim that this was 10 years in the making with the amount of detail and information available from the early days of Goddard’s rocketry experiments through the accomplishments of each step NASA took to get to Apollo 11.
I took a short road trip to the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio to check out their annual Seldom Seen Cycle exhibi, running through May 30th, 2015. The show features “antique” motorcycles, which is any bike over 35 years of age in Ohio.
The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was an amazing piece of technology for its time. At 12:16 PM EDT, on July 16th, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft began its translunar injection burn to leave its 115 mile-high Earth-orbit thanks to this navigation computer.
The AGC operated at 1.024 MHz, or one-million cycles per second, to help multitask 8 jobs, all with 2 kilobytes of memory.
You can try out the AGC yourself with the simulator found at here.
Your modern smartphone likely has a CPU designed to run at 2 GHz, or a billion cycles per second, and will often have 2 gigabytes of memory.
That said, comparing it to the modern smartphone isn’t really fair considering the AGC was a specialized computer designed to perform in a high-stress environment.
The Apollo Guidance Computer helped to take a spacecraft over 225 thousand miles to the Moon. Thanks to the efforts of the early space pioneers, your smartphone now uses an orbiting network of 24 GPS satellites.