The Space Shuttle’s onboard computer system alone weighed more than the entire Apollo Command Module.
There’s nothing quite like having Walter Cronkite narrate live on national TV how well you did your job on Apollo, especially on the day that Neil Armstrong was coming back from the Moon.
I was pretty proud of myself by then. Barely three years out of school and here I was teaching the Apollo astronauts how to pilot their spacecraft, for God’s sake. As I was to discover many times over in my career, smugness invites its own reward. This one arrived while I was briefing an Apollo astronaut for an upcoming mission.
The first task I was assigned in October of 1968 was to determine exactly how the onboard autopilot was supposed to operate during reentry, and that meant digging through the inner workings of the Apollo Guidance Computer itself.
The Apollo Command Module is shaped like an oversized Hershey’s Kiss and entered Earth’s atmosphere broadside first, giving it all the aerodynamics of a misshapen rock.