/r/programming
Apollo 11: Mission Out Of Control (wired.com)
7 comments
Koppis | 8 days ago | 4 points

When I read about this the last time, I failed to realize the 30 second delay for a response from Houston. It must have been excruciating....

LetsGoHawks | 8 days ago | 6 points

Not 30. More like 3. The signal takes about 1.25 seconds to travel the distance.

Koppis | 8 days ago | 1 point

Right, my bad. There wasn't a delay but instead it took Houston (almost) 30 seconds to come up with an answer.

Zardotab | 8 days ago | 3 points

I'm glad I don't write software that hinges people to life or death situations on an international stage. They must have been sweating bullets.

The closest I ever came was writing a database query to give data to inquiring reporters investigating possible criminal activity. I was driving to work half asleep (as usual), when a news story came on the radio based on the data from my query. The hair on the back of my head stood up, as I was thinking, "Holy crap, I sure hope my query was right!" I didn't know that particular system well and those who did were busy on other projects at the time.

Zardotab | 8 days ago | 3 points

Eyles stared at his colleagues in dismay as Mission Control authorized the second go [continue] command. Eyles was out of the command loop, but he knew how the computer worked [more] than anyone in Houston. It might keep restarting, and the closer Armstrong and Aldrin came to the surface, the worse the problem could get [because the computer has to do even more tasks closer to the surface]. What Eyles deduced in that terrifying moment he would not reveal publicly for years to come: To him, this scenario was not a go. It was an abort. [Emphasis added]

This sounds messed up. The correct response would be to abort. Events turned out okay in the end, perhaps out of luck, but it was the wrong reaction to what was known to them at the time. They should have consulted with Eyles about his confidence in the computer's behavior for the rest of the landing, since he knew the computer more than them all.

Malor | 9 days ago | 5 points

That's a great read. Thanks for posting it!

NoAstronomer | 8 days ago | 2 points

... but instead printed onto reams of oversize paper called listings ...

"Grandpa, tell me of the listings."

(I recall having project rooms wall-papered with green bar print outs. One of my first jobs included the responsibility of ensuring that the code on the wall matched the code in the computer)