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From the article:

>Once the code was solid, it would be shipped off to a nearby Raytheon facility where a group of women, expert seamstresses known to the Apollo program as the “Little Old Ladies,” threaded copper wires through magnetic rings (a wire going through a core was a 1; a wire going around the core was a 0). Forget about RAM or disk drives; on Apollo, memory was literally hardwired and very nearly indestructible.

I was at a talk by Richard Battin, also of Draper on the Apollo program, a few years back. One of the stories he told was of a number of the Apollo astronauts visiting Raytheon (where the core memory was being "sewn") and the general gist of the visit was "be really careful with your work or these nice young boys could die."




In the "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe, he mentions quite a few situations where the Mercury astronauts would visit factories and facilities in charge with building various components, and in all of these cases there was the same gist of "be really careful with your work or these nice young boys could die." So this practice existed from the very beginning of the American space program.

I wonder if any of that still happens these days. Probably way less now when American astronauts hitch a ride on the Soyuz.


I worked a program in the early nineties. We all met the test pilots that would fly the bird. It was abundantly clear (they made it clear) that lives were at stake, and that they wouldn't step inside unless they trusted you and your work. They had the unilateral right to declare the entire program 'no go', and rightly so. This is formalized as a "flight readiness review", but of course you meet the pilots before that. This was a Navy helicopter, not space, I can't speak to what happens at NASA these days, but I can't imagine it's much different.




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