[image of star filled sky] Space, the final frontier!

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[image of star filled sky] – Space, the final frontier!

[image of Apollo 11 patch] The six moon landings were a huge part of history – the first marking the victory in the Space Race. The computers needed on board were the best of their time, and it may seem like the [image of Buzz Aldrin standing by the flag planted on the moon] Apollo space capsules needed nearly as much computer processing power as one of these [image of the Enterprise NCC-1701] to get to the moon.

Okay, maybe not nearly that much, but it seems like the computer needed a lot of processing power and storage space in order to send three men to the moon, right? [clip of astronauts working on the moon from Apollo 11 Moonwalk Montage] Back then it was, but shall we put things into perspective?

Something people encounter everyday has more processing power than what carried our astronauts to the moon. Most carry it around with them all the time. I know I don’t think about it every time I use this. Any thoughts as to what it could be?

Cell phones. [image of someone taking a picture with a cell phone]

Hard to believe? Let’s take a look back through history.

[clip of Saturn V rocket, carrying Apollo 11, taking off from Apollo 11 Introduction]

[image of AGC in the capsule] When Apollo 11 took off on July 16, 1969, it contained two guidance computers, [moonwalk clip from Apollo 11 Introduction] known as the Apollo Guidance Computer or AGC. One AGC was on the capsule while the other was on the lunar module. One of these computers had a processing speed of 1 Megahertz, which processes 1 million things per second. The amount of random access memory, better known as RAM, that was available amounted to 8,000 bytes. RAM is the most common type of memory that people see today on computers; this type of memory stores files that can be changed quickly later on.

[Communication between Apollo 11 and NASA from Flight Day 1. NASA is giving the astronauts commands to implement into the AGC on a certain maneuver that needed to take place. They speak about using the “+” command several times to calculate the maneuver]

[image of the moon] Between the two AGCs, they had to be able to complete the following: freely navigate from the Earth to the Moon, [image of the Earth and the Moon] continuously integrate where they were located in space, compute navigation fixes using stars, the sun, and planets, [clip of the lunar module orbiting the moon from Apollo 11 Introduction] attitude control via autopilot, [clip of Apollo 11 taking off from Apollo 11 Introduction] manually take over the Saturn V booster in an emergency, [clip of module orbiting the moon from Apollo 11 Introduction] provide remote updates, and have real-time information display. The AGC must also have the ability to run more than one program at once.

[diagram of AGC to show what the computer interface looks like. Similar to a calculator] The astronauts were able to communicate with the AGC through specific verb-noun pairs, and the computer would be able to communicate back to them [Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon from Apollo 11 Moonwalk Montage] in these pairs along with warning lights if something malfunctioned. Astronauts would use the keys provided on the AGC to enter information and select programs and actions. They would activate a program and then interact with it by requesting and entering information, much like today. The verb-noun pairs were used when changing programs and making other requests. [Clip of module landing on the Moon from Apollo 11 Introduction] The verb-noun pairs were 100 two-digit numbers provided for each that had a specific function tied to it. An example would be verb 37 – “Change Program,” which enabled the crew to set up a new program to execute. To execute the rendezvous targeting program, a crewmember would first press the VERB key followed by 3 and 7, and then the ENTER key. This would inform the computer a request for a program change. Then the astronaut would press 3, 1, and then ENTER to inform the computer to execute program P31. In this program, the crew could request maneuver angles, monitor the changes while a maneuver was taking place, or request the velocity change required for the next maneuver.

They were able to travel 953,054 miles and be able to do all those computations with [image of AGC] 1 MHz of processing power and 8,000 bytes of memory on their AGC? Well, they did have 64,000 more bytes of memory on the computers, called ROM – read-only memory, which is used for software closely tied to hardware or application software, but for this analysis it’s not important.

Shall we compare this to modern smartphones? [image of lady taking a photo with a smartphone]

[images of people on their cellphone] The processor of a Samsung Galaxy S7 and an iPhone 7 Plus are about the same size. The S7 processor’s speed is 2.3 GHz, while the iPhone 7 Plus has a processor speed of 2.4 GHz. Comparing these to the speed of the AGC, they’re around 2,300 to 2,400 times faster than the processor used to take the first men to the moon.

The amount of memory on an iPhone 7 Plus is 3GB, or for mathematical purposes, 3,000,000,000 bytes. This cell phone has 375,000 times more storage than the amount used on one AGC. For the S7, there’s 4 GB of RAM, or 4,000,000,000 bytes – 500,000 times larger than the memory allotted for the AGC.

[image of Earthrise] All of 1 MHz and 8,000 bytes can get us to the moon. Imagine where we could go if we used what’s on our phones! [video the lunar module in space]


Works Cited

Apollo 11 Introduction.

Apollo 11 Moonwalk Montage.

Buzz Aldrin. Digital file.

The Eagle Orbiting the Moon. Digital file.

Earthrise. Digital file.

Flight Day 1. MP3 file, NASA, 1969.

"How much RAM does the iPhone 7 Plus have?" iPhoneFAQ, www.iphonefaq.org/archives/975665. Accessed 1 Apr. 2017.

Joskirps. "Build Your Own NASA Apollo Landing Computer (no kidding)." Galaxiki Community Blog, 30 Jan. 2008, www.galaxiki.org/web/main/_blog/all/build-your-own-nasa-apollo-landing-computer-no-kidding.shtml. Accessed 1 Apr. 2017.

Mayo, Benjamin. "KGI: iPhone 7 to feature 2.4GHz A10 chip, IPX7 waterproofing, new 12 megapixel cameras, piano black color, more." 9To5Mac, 3 Sept. 2016, 9to5mac.com/2016/09/03/kgi-iphone-7-to-feature-2-4ghz-a10-chip-ipx7-waterproofing-new-12-megapixel-cameras-piano-black-color-more/. Accessed 1 Apr. 2017.

O'Brien, Frank. "The Apollo Guidance Computer Architecture and Operation." The College of New Jersey, tcf.pages.tcnj.edu/files/2013/12/Apollo-Guidance-Computer-2009.pdf. Accessed 1 Apr. 2017.

"Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge: Everything you need to known about Samsung’s Galaxy Flagship." Samsung Galaxy S7, www.igalaxys7.com. Accessed 1 Apr. 2017.

"Using the AGC." Computers in Spaceflight: The NASA Experience, history.nasa.gov/computers/Ch2-7.html. Accessed 1 Apr. 2017.
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