Architecting Apollo: Systems Design Lessons from the Golden Age of Spaceflight
19:20 - 20:20
Talk (60 min)
The earliest crewed spaceflights, including the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, were some of the earliest instances of software being responsible for life-or-death decisions. While various aspects of the software and systems design could be considered outdated by modern standards, many of the core principles and design choices are directly relevant to the systems we build today.
This talk dives into several of the disasters and near-fatal accidents of early crewed spaceflight, including Gemini 8 and Apollo 11, and focuses on the system design choices that either led to or averted catastrophe. Topics include fail-open vs. fail-closed design, recoverable software, process prioritization, levels of autonomy, and designing for human intervention.