March 1965 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
As one who enthusiastically followed the manned space program from its early
days in the 1960's, reading news stories and magazine articles on new technology
and research never ceases to amaze me. When China or Russia flies the next man to
the moon, the level of fanfare will be more focused on how the U.S. is no longer
considered the leader than on how much more improved technology is and how much
lower the risk is. We now have over a million total hours of men living in space
versus a thousand or so in 1969. Semiconductors have totally replaced vacuum
tubes - with vastly better capability and ruggedness. Mechanics and physics
knowledge now versus then are barely comparable. Software simulation predicts and
optimizes virtually every possible scenario and compensates for it. Autonomous
spacecraft have landed safely on asteroids only a few miles across at distances
where radio communication takes half an hour to travel the distance - not 1/4 of
a second as with to the moon. To really get a good idea of how little margin the
Apollo 11 astronauts and their vehicle had, I recommend reading Hanes' "Apollo 11 Workshop Manual."
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Posted March 26, 2018