A complex system like Apollo or Space Shuttle is impersonal, amoral. It is indifferent to human objectives, human aspirations, or human lives. Like reality itself, it moves only to its internal agenda.
If you know your history, or if you’ve watched the movie Apollo 13, you have an advantage those of us working on that mission didn’t. You know how it came out.
I was young and hadn’t experienced a crushing reversal at the hands of an impersonal universe. More were to come my way, but on that day, Apollo 13 was enough.
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.
>With limited computer resources onboard Apollo, the real “heavy lifting” had to be done on the ground, in Houston’s Mission Control Center.