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Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight (Inside Technology) (英語) ハードカバー – 2008/4/4
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As Apollo 11's Lunar Module descended toward the moon under automatic control, a program alarm in the guidance computer's software nearly caused a mission abort. Neil Armstrong responded by switching off the automatic mode and taking direct control. He stopped monitoring the computer and began flying the spacecraft, relying on skill to land it and earning praise for a triumph of human over machine. In Digital Apollo, engineer-historian David Mindell takes this famous moment as a starting point for an exploration of the relationship between humans and computers in the Apollo program. In each of the six Apollo landings, the astronaut in command seized control from the computer and landed with his hand on the stick. Mindell recounts the story of astronauts' desire to control their spacecraft in parallel with the history of the Apollo Guidance Computer. From the early days of aviation through the birth of spaceflight, test pilots and astronauts sought to be more than "spam in a can" despite the automatic controls, digital computers, and software developed by engineers. Digital Apollo examines the design and execution of each of the six Apollo moon landings, drawing on transcripts and data telemetry from the flights, astronaut interviews, and NASA's extensive archives. Mindell's exploration of how human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate in flight -- a lunar landing -- traces and reframes the debate over the future of humans and automation in space. The results have implications for any venture in which human roles seem threatened by automated systems, whether it is the work at our desktops or the future of exploration.
[A] wealth of research that even the most informed space fans can enjoy. Mindell avoids the temptation to glorify the space program, instead dealing with the nitty gritty logistics involved in getting a man to the moon. Digital Apollo succeeds in providing an inside track to one of the most difficult technological challenges of the 20th century.(James Thorne coolhunting.com)
Mindell joyfully plumbs the deep history of Apollo's decade-long clash between the MIT eggheads who built the computers and the thrill-jockey military test pilots who used them.(IEEE Spectrum)
The book is a refreshing reminder that it is still possible to uncover new stories about the early years of the American space program.(Dwayne A. Day Air & Space) 商品の説明をすべて表示する
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p.s. This book describes the operation of a zero-weight low-tech technology known as the LPD (landing point designator) which is comprised of colored markings on the commander's window. One of the AGC display lines tells the commander which lines to look through.
It's a fascinating account of how the guidance computer and the human astronaut (and flight controllers) struggled to rely on each other for the landing on the moon. The love-hate emotions of the computer-astronaut interface are felt throughout the book. Although there is no shortage of technical detail, it all seems essential to the narrative. Initially, it seems as if the book is losing focus, but soon the connections become clear: the book reads like a detective novel.
If you have read two or more books on the space program, this should be your next purchase. Once you have read one Apollo book, there is a lot of repetition - not here. It provides many details the others lack.
A secondary audience for this book is anyone interested in IT project management. This book provides a case study on complex, mission-critical project management. Much to be learned. This should be required ready for engineering majors.
At under $20, this book will set off fireworks in the pleasure centers neurons.
BUT - the Kindle edition is dreadful! A number of the figures have disappeared (only the captions appear), and the figures that ARE there are nearly unviewable (at least on my 1st generation Kindle). Do yourself a favor and buy the physical artifact.
In the past most historians have focused on one of five major areas relative to Apollo. These include the foreign policy and public policy antecedents of Apollo and its immediate ramifications, the flights of the astronauts, the history of lunar science, the social and cultural history of the Moon landings, and the evolution of space technology. It is in this last category that this work makes an important contribution. While most of the prior work on the history of Apollo technology has been internalist in focus and undertaken by those mesmerized by the "nuts and bolts" story without much attention to the wider context, Mindell's account embraces a larger vision of how Apollo fit into the human/machine relationship for flight vehicles. He argues for, and then succeeds in demonstrating, a new research agenda in the history of human spaceflight that extends beyond the virtual catechism of retelling of a specific myth in the conventional story. He shows how historians might move beyond the "fetish for the artifact" that has dominated most of the historiography of Apollo.
Mindell's most significant contribution is to highlight the debate that has raged since the origins of spaceflight between the pilot/astronauts and the aerospace engineers over the degree of control held by each group in human-rated spacecraft. The engineers placed much greater emphasis on automatic control systems and sought to reduce the role of astronauts on board a spacecraft. These space engineers mostly viewed the astronaut as a "weak link" in the spacecraft control system. Of course, the question of whether machines could perform control functions better than people became the subject of considerable public debate.
The ever increasing capability of electronic systems served to undermine the argument in favor of complete human control. Despite this, the American astronauts used their celebrity status to assert more control over spacecraft systems, seeking to overcome what many thought they already were, "spam in a can." Over time they were successful, to the extent that the Space Shuttle became the first American human space vehicle that could not be flown as an automated system. This dynamic of human/machine interaction is critical to the current approach to human spaceflight, and Mindell has performed a valuable service by shining an intense searchlight on these issues.
What "Digital Apollo" does better than any work yet published, is open a window to the fascinating interactions of the astronauts and the engineers in the developing the technologies and processes necessary for the landings on the Moon. The author emphasizes the manner in which the Lunar Modules set down on the surface and the control systems that allowed that difficult task to take place. Mindell expends considerable effort to understand the design and development of the Apollo Guidance Computer, a critical piece of technology that fundamentally altered the nature of the task, and how this was employed in developing procedures for landing. The last part of this work focuses on the experience of the lunar landings themselves.
No one has explored this theme previously in the history of U.S. human spaceflight despite a large number of sophisticated analytical histories concerning Apollo technology written by master historians. Those previous works, often prepared under contract to NASA were marked by well-defined and quite restricted parameters, high levels of research in primary source documents, comprehensive treatment, and a generally turgid style. Mindell uses their documentary nature to his advantage, as grist for his novel investigation. The result is an outstanding work of history.