Charles Gutjahr

Melbourne, Australia

The moon landings were oddly reassuring

4 Aug 2019 — a 1 minute read on opinion

I have enjoying reading and hearing the many stories that surfaced in the last month for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings.

In particular it is fascinating just how similar the Apollo program was to the chaos of modern technology projects. The moon landings were no superhuman feat, they were just a lot of people working very hard, making mistakes and fixing things as they go along. The first Saturn V rocket spent 17 days on the launchpad failing tests until bugs in its software were fixed. A contractor delivered lunar modules that didn't work. A radar that worked in testing sent junk data during the mission. Software errors occurred during the moon landing itself and mission control had to guess what to do without understanding what was going wrong.

I've seen many similar snafus in my career building much less dramatic business software. I find it oddly reassuring that NASA dealt with the same kind of problems, it's not just us!