Apollo 11 command module is released to open source

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The software that helped take humans to the moon has been released to the developer open source community to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

Apollo 11 command module is released to open source

The Apollo 11 program was made up of two different spacecraft, the Command Module (CM), used to get the three astronauts to the moon and back, and the Lunar Module (LM), used to land two of the astronauts on the moon.

An on-board Apollo guidance computer (AGC) was the principal computer for all Apollo missions. On any Apollo mission, there were two AGCs, one for the Command Module, and one for the Lunar Module, but they ran different software because the tasks the spacecraft had to perform were different. "Software" was also different to today, and was effectively built using paper-tape rolls and thick cardstock that was punched with special holes.

Developers of the Virtual AGC and AGS project scanned and transcribed the hard-copy scanned images of the code from both spaceships from the MIT Museum, to create an open source-based emulator of the Apollo Guidance Computer. The resulting Virtual AGC software public domain executable code is designed to work in Linux, in Windows XP, and in Mac OS X 10.3 or later.

The team behind the Virtual AGC project have said the emulator is not a flight simulator, but an accurate recreation of the functionality of the computers which were installed in the Apollo vehicles. But the code can be used as a component for other developers to create a flight simulator, if they so wish.

This source code, including the original comments, is now hosted on Google Code. It recreates the keypad and display panels which the astronauts used to navigate and land the Lunar module.

Image courtesy of Nasa images

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