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Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane on “The Amazing Flight Software People”

Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane has some thoughts about the IBM team who built the Shuttle onboard flight software.

Space Shuttle First Flights: John Aaron (Software Failure Is Not An...

I met with John Aaron to explain why IBM couldn’t fulfill a Shuttle software contract that required zero errors. His answer changed my mind.

Space Shuttle First Flights: Phil Shaffer (Again)

During the Apollo Program, NASA’s Phil Shaffer had subjected me to what I’d describe today as a version of “Shark Tank”. I wasn’t looking forward to presenting to him again on Shuttle.

Space Shuttle First Flights: Engineering the Onboard Software

By comparison to the Space Shuttle, Apollo was a Model-T Ford - no set of computer-controlled spaceship operations like this had ever been attempted. Nothing that got us to the Moon could be reused here, and so it was discarded.

Space Shuttle First Flights: “Fly-by-Wire”

During high speed atmospheric flight, the extreme forces buffeting the Space Shuttle produced abrupt, violent oscillations that, left unattended, would cause it to spiral out of control. No human was capable of flying the Shuttle unassisted.

Space Shuttle First Flights: Onboard Computers (Shuttle vs. Apollo)

The Space Shuttle's onboard computer system alone weighed more than the entire Apollo Command Module.

Space Shuttle First Flights: Why Shuttle Has Wings

An Air Force requirement demanded wings for the Space Shuttle, and that drove everything else about its design. Yet they were never used for that purpose.

Space Shuttle First Flights: “Space Transportation System”

In spite of having four separate sets of rocket engines, for the entire flight through the atmosphere and landing, the Shuttle Orbiter was simply an unpowered glider.

Space Shuttle First Flights: Early Shuttle Designs

The Space Shuttle was immensely different and more complex, in both concept and design, from anything attempted on Apollo.

Space Shuttle First Flights: Shuttle and the X-15

In 1959, U.S. astronauts piloted an airplane-shaped rocket ship into space, and then flew nearly 200 missions, twenty years before the first Space Shuttle ever left the ground.

Space Shuttle First Flights: STS-135 (End of An Era)

Now that the era of Space Shuttle has passed, was it all worth it? While the Apollo Program was the great adventure of our age, what exactly did this stepchild do to earn its keep?