Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight (MIT Press) (英語) ハードカバー – 2008/4/4
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How human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate in flight -- the lunar landings of NASA's Apollo program.
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
レビュー者の好きな映画に『ライトスタッフ [DVD]』、『アポロ13 [DVD]』があり、前者で宇宙飛行士が宇宙機に窓が必要で操縦できることを主張した場面、後者で地球への帰還ルートに宇宙飛行士の操縦で制御した場面がありますが、本書を通してこれらの場面の理解も深まりました。
It's a fascinating story that has not, to my knowledge, previously been told in any depth. The evolution of the Apollo computer hardware and software occurred in parallel with the evolution of the attitudes of steely eyed NASA astronauts, who fought hard to avoid relinquishing any control to machines. All the early astronauts were test pilots--their hard-won experiences with primitive vacuum-tube systems in aircraft had convinced them that "electronics always fail." Thus they opposed NASA's decision, mandated by the complexity of lunar missions, to depend largely on new-fangled transistorized digital computers to help them fly the Apollo spacecraft. At one time, in those days before "fly-by-wire" control systems, some Apollo astronauts wanted actual cables connecting a conventional aircraft-type stick with the CM's attitude control rocket motors. That didn't happen. They feared that computer failures would jeopardize their missions and perhaps cost them their lives. That also didn't happen. To find out what DID happen, there's no better source than "Digital Apollo."
Dr. Mindell says his book "...tells the story of the relationship between human and machine in the Apollo project and how that relationship shaped the experience and the technology of flying to the moon. It is a story of human pilots, of automated systems, and of the two working together to achieve the ultimate in flight. It is also a story of public imagery, professional identities and social relationships among engineers, pilots, flight controllers and many others, each with their own visions of spaceflight." That's a good summary, but I'd like to add to it. First, words like "social relationships" and "working together" and "visions" should not deter technophiles from reading "Digital Apollo." Those subjects are all in there, but much of the book is at the down-and-dirty technical level of bits and bytes and magnetic core memories and DSKYs and other esoterica. Dr. Mindell superbly integrates the human and computer stories in a way that almost anyone should find interesting. Second, "Digital Apollo" is one of the best-written spaceflight books I've read in years. Its tone is brisk and conversational, but the information it contains is deep, broad and very well-explained. You don't have to be a space cadet to enjoy it. It is also exceptionally accurate. I came across only a few minor errors in the parts of the story that I know, such as calling a metal alloy used in the X-15 "Iconel-X" rather than "Inconel-X" (the alloy and the name came from the International Nickel Company, hence "Inco").
"Digital Apollo" fills a niche in the history of technology and spaceflight in a most outstanding way. It reminds me a little of Tracy Kidder's "The Soul of A New Machine," and that is high praise indeed. Even if you think you know Apollo, you should read it. You're sure to learn a lot, and be entertained in the process. I recommend it most highly.
The book traces the history of the AGC, discusses its growth and capabilities, and its real world use. I was especially pleased with chapters nine and ten which dealt in detail with each of the six landings, differences between the landings, and differing attitudes held by the various astronauts about the computer and its functionality. I was pleased with the detailed coverage that Apollo 12 got, and the explanations of the increasing complexity of the "J missions" which took heavier LMs into much more difficult terrain much more steeply. Mindell gives the best explanation I have yet read (p. 205) of the use of the Landing Point Designator (LPD), and computer incorporation of landing radar returns and resulting Delta H data into final altitude solutions for the crew. As an aside, don't stop reading until the very end: the very last page (p. 361) contans an excellent explanation of the extremely well rendered cover illustration depicting the view from Armstrong's window at about 520 feet above the lurain.
The book is, like any endeavor of this scope, not perfect, with an occasional error or typo: most seem to be due to spell check artifacts not recognizing unusual word use. (The most obvious example is the discussion of the Apollo 1201 and 1202 program alarms on p. 222 which he refers to as "executive overload" instead of "executive overflow" alarms, even though he subsequently used the word overflow correctly in reference to these same events. Amusingly enough, the quote about the alarms from Norman Mailer doesn't really make sense if you read the word as "overload.") This is, of course, nitpicking, and I absolutely don't intend to take away from a brilliant career accomplishment.
The ideal reader for this book will care passionately about manned space flight, and will find Apollo especially worthy of in-depth study. The book does not require any previous knowledge of spaceflight, human factors, computer interface issues, or aviation, but will be slower going for someone with no background in those areas (though still worthwhile). It is not a technical book in the sense that only engineers, programmers, astronauts, or pilots can glean useful information from it, but it does touch on a variety of complex subjects. Fortunately Mindell is more than up to the task and makes learning about this fascinating subject highly rewarding. I recommend this book very highly.