The Memory Module for the Saturn V rocket

The Saturn V rocket went to the moon in the summer of 1969. Think about the technology back then and how hard it might have been to program the controls for a rocket that was to fly to the moon and back. The astronauts had not control over the flight of the rocket. It was all done by a computer program dependent on memory made up of individual iron cores that were either magnetized for a “1” or demagnetized for a “0” with the additional knowledge that every time an iron core was accessed, it would demagnetize. The programmer had to remember to rewrite the value into each iron core every time it was accessed.

Videos and Descriptions

YouTube has several good videos describing the memory on the Apollo Saturn V’s. The first one describes the memory module:

and Saturn V Computer ring:

in the rocket itself. The second one describes the Apollo rope memory. Advertisements may come up at the start of the videos, since they do not allow embedding. Skip the ads. I will create a Discussion group in either Teams or D2L to allow you to comment.

Re-entry of Apollo XIII

Apollo 13 had a major catastrophe on its flight to the moon. The final problem was that the heat shield was damaged in the explosion. If it failed, the module would not be able to re-enter. Most re-entries took about three minutes for radio silence. After four minutes of silence, the people in the Houston ground-center became very worried.

Margaret Hamilton

Programming of the Saturn V was difficult. It had room for the large ring containing the computer. Think about the Lunar Lander. Every ounce counted, so the computer had to be much smaller and the program had to be very precise. Margaret Hamilton was the person who had the astronauts lives in her programming skills. She had the privilege of celebrating when the first lunar lander landed and took off safely.

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