All Posts in spaceflight

October 23, 2017 - No Comments!

Margaret Hamilton: The Rope Mother

Meet Margaret Hamilton: the “Rope Mother.” When MIT was awarded the contract to design Apollo’s guidance and navigation computer, the notion of creating software to run it was an afterthought at best. In the early ’60s, computer programming was seen as an unsophisticated and undesirable task. In fact, the term “software” did not even exist (Margaret would create it to distinguish her role from those designing computer “hardware”).

A self-taught programmer, Margaret developed a sophisticated series of binary code programs the astronauts would run to get them to and from the lunar surface. Unlike modern computers, the Apollo guidance computer had two types of memory: the first could be written to and read from (what we now call RAM memory); the second was read-only. While modern computers store information on silicon chips, information had to be “written” into a series of magnetized donut-shaped pieces called cores. These cores were then threaded through a series of wires. If the wire passed through the core, the computer sensed a binary “one”, and if it went around the core, a binary “zero.” The entire assembly was called a core rope––an incredibly difficult and time-consuming contraption to build–one completely foreign to today’s software engineers.

Margaret’s guidance programming not only succeeded in getting astronauts to and from the moon, but when a computer overload threatened to scrub the first attempted lunar landing on Apollo 11, it was her software that automatically told the computer to ignore certain non-vital functions, giving it the processing power needed to focus on the actions critical for lunar landing. For this act alone, you might say that Margaret is just as responsible for the success of Apollo 11 as Neil Armstrong!

 

October 21, 2017 - No Comments!

Life in Rocket City: Interview with Apollo Engineer, Bill DeCarlis

Bill DeCarlis, standing near his office in the Vehicle Assembly Building, watches the launch of the first Saturn V rocket. November 9, 1967.

In this audio clip, When We Were Apollo producer, John Filson, interviews Apollo engineer, Bill DeCarlis. Bill describes his life as a young man in Cape Canaveral, Florida, working in the Vehicle Assembly Building on the Saturn V rocket that would take astronauts to the moon. From a chance encounter with a space superstar to a middle-of-the-night mission to save the Apollo 8 launch, Bill gives us a glimpse into what it was like to be part of something big and incredible.

Bill's account is part of our larger effort to capture the untold stories of Apollo workers for our upcoming documentary. Our Kickstarter campaign runs through October 31st. Please support it today!

September 18, 2017 - No Comments!

“When We Were Apollo” Kickstarter Campaign Launches 9/26/17!

Dear Friends,

I've recorded a video blog this week because we've got some very exciting news that I wanted to share face-to-face. I'm thrilled to announce that on Tuesday, September 26th, we will officially be launching our Kickstarter campaign for When We Were Apollo!

For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform which allows anyone with an Internet connection to financially back a creative project in exchange for a reward. Over the years, crowdfunding on Kickstarter has brought tens of thousands of projects to life, from films and documentaries to professional art installations to exciting new gadgets and technologies. It truly has become an integral part of the fundraising process for any creative endeavor!

I'm asking if you'll commit today to pledging $1.00 on the first day of our campaign.  One of the things that can really make a difference in crowdfunding is to have great momentum coming right out of the gate. An enthusiastic backer response on day one not only gets us closer to hitting our financial goal; it sends a powerful message to Kickstarter and others thinking about backing When We Were Apollo that our project is one they should support!

"When We Were Apollo" mission patch is free to all our first day backers!

To show our gratitude, we're offering all of our day one backers a free When We Were Apollo mission patch sticker (see above).  This sticker will be available throughout our campaign for $5.00, but we're giving them away absolutely free to everyone that contributes at least $1.00 when the campaign launches on the 26th!

A lot more to come in the days ahead as we get closer to our launch. Things are about to get really, really exciting!

- Zack Weil

August 30, 2017 - No Comments!

An Apollo Museum in Digital Space!

There's an amazing new museum to explore Apollo, and it's all accessible with the click of a button!  Special thanks to Inara Pey for her wonderful story on the LOOT Interactive Apollo Museum.

Given my interest in space exploration, it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that my second Exploring Sansar article focuses on the LOOT Interactive NASA Apollo Museum. However, there is another reason for my doing so: as the Sansar Creator Beta opened, it was – and remains as of the time of writing this piece […]

via Sansar: a voyage to the Moon and back — Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

August 29, 2017 - No Comments!

When We Were Apollo: Intro Video

 

Very happy to officially share our intro video for 'When We Were Apollo' with you. "The spirit of Apollo–that belief that we can do the big things regardless of what stands in our way–is still with us. It's our deepest hope with this film and beyond that we will always endeavor to do the big things–especially when times are hard–because they push us to become the best versions of ourselves.

On behalf of our production team, thank you for supporting this film, and for all the ways you embody the spirit of Apollo in your daily life."

Sincerely,

Zack Weil, Writer/Director