The US Apollo space program was an amazing time in history. It had its real beginnings in President John F. Kennedy’s address to Congress on May 25, 1961, in which he famously said:
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
The Apollo program proceeded ahead, and as history tells we landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Anyone who was around at the time remembers exactly where they were—I was a child in Vienna, Austria, watching every astronaut step on television as was everyone else. Before the Apollo program was completed in 1972, there were 5 more moon landings.
It is time once again to make big visions, Apollo-sized visions, the fashion once more. Let’s bring the world back to doing great things, instead of app-sized flash-in-the-pan here-today-gone-tomorrow accomplishments.
In this ebook we’ll examine what it really takes to accomplish things of that scope, and why it is more important than ever to do so.
Chapter 1: The Real Commitment
What’s the major problem with a project the size of the Apollo program? It doesn’t come ready made out of a box. There’s not even any books on building one. Nobody knows what it’s supposed to look like.
Chapter 2: Automation is My Co-Pilot
Along with other history-making factors, the Apollo program, thanks to a person almost never mentioned in the news and history of the time, set the stage for the symbiosis between human and machine. It also set the stage for the software industry.
Chapter 3: Cybernetics and the Human-Computer Interaction
In parallel with the Apollo program in the 1960s and into the 1970s, research was occurring at MIT and elsewhere into the blooming science of cybernetics. The originator of the science of cybernetics was American mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener. In 1948 he defined cybernetics as “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.” Cybernetic pioneer W. Ross Ashby also referred to cybernetics as the “science of simplification.”
Chapter 4: To Pull Off an Extraordinary Project—It Takes Extraordinary Management
Think for a moment what it must have taken to manage a project the size of Apollo, with 400,000 people. Aside from that sheer number, these people weren’t all located in the same room. Or even the same building. Or even the same city. Or even the same state.
Chapter 5: Building By Perfect Components
Building anything well takes time, perseverance, detailed planning and trials. It doesn’t happen overnight. As we saw with the Apollo program, it was built step-by-step, layer by layer.
Chapter 6: What It Takes to Truly Reach a Goal
Only a month after he walked on the moon, Neil Armstrong said, “I felt a successful lunar landing might inspire men around the world to believe that impossible goals really are possible, that there really is hope for solutions to humanity’s problems.” (LIFE magazine interview, August 8th, 1969).
But reaching any goal requires 4 prime factors: time, energy, resources and money. The bigger the goal, the more of each of these things that you need.