Jan 1, 2009

Build Your Own Apollo Guidance Computer

Ever wondered what makes a spacecraft's main computer tick? Now, thanks to John Pultorak, you can make yourself a complete replica of the original guidance computer used in the NASA Apollo missions. All the documents you need to repeat his effort are given here.

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was developed in the early 1960s by the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, and could automatically controll all of the navigational systems onboard the Apollo spacecraft.

John took 4 years to hunt down all the technical reports and find the necessary components. Also, to be sure that his replica AGC would work, he also created simulations of the complete computer's logic using modern development tools.

And if you ever wanted proof that there were some useful technology spin-offs from the space industry into other sectors, note that it was the first computer to use integrated circuits, a technology that has now become an integral part of our everyday life. In fact, the AGC used over 4000 of them!

Spaceflight and competitions have always spawned new designs and approaches so imagine what technology spin-offs will come out of the Google Lunar X PRIZE...

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mike fabio said...

Can we get some videos of this thing in action? That is truly awesome.

The MIT Press (go Engineers!) has recently published a book all about the computers used on the Apollo missions. Check it out here.

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