[ih] ARPANET and Apollo 11

John Levine johnl at iecc.com
Thu Mar 12 15:36:42 PDT 2015

>in the aftermath of Sputnik 1. Then they needed one cycle of intense
>systems development, and neither of them suffered from second-system
>syndrome, ...

Hmmn.  So we should now compare the Space Shuttle to the Internet.

For all the glamor of the Apollo program, it was a dead end, sort of
like building the Pyramids.  We learned that by exerting the kind of
effort only a motivated government can bring to a project, we could
send a dozen guys to the moon for a few days each.

The Atlantic Monthly had an interesting article last month on the
International Space Station:


It's clear we're still in Pyramids mode.  The highly trained staff
still spend the majority of their time on what might be called not
dying, maintenance of the equipment and dealing with the effects of
weightlessness on their bodies.  (For example, everyone gets
farsighted, and unlike the bone loss, it doesn't reverse when they get
back.)  Each person in space is supported by dozens of people on the
ground, and everything they do is planned and scripted from Houston or
its Russian equivalent.  The ISS has room to do zero gee
manufacturing, but so far there hasn't been anything to make it
worthwhile.  Private companies like SpaceX are likely to bring down
the cost of sending stuff into space from incredibly high to merely
very very expensive, but I don't see any sort of private space travel
beyond $100,000 tourist jaunts and perhaps Elon Musk's private trip to
Mars, where he says he wants to die, preferably not on impact, on
which he could spend a billion dollars.

The Internet, on the other hand, turned out to scale magnificently, to
the point where stuff is so routine and so cheap that we take it for
granted that our 13 year old kids have $30 networked supercomputers in
their pockets and we argue about what they should be allowed to do
with them.


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