Hacking Saved Apollo 13

Apollo 13 is a great movie on hacking. Hacking is applying intelligence to systems (including computer systems) to achieve a goal.

That can be done by criminals or devious people but it doesn’t have to be. It is a bit annoying that some people equating hacking only with criminal behavior.

The hacking culture is much more about figuring out ways to make technology work for people than about criminals. We shouldn’t let a small sub-set of hackers defile the term.

photo of the Apollo 13 Command Module

The Apollo 13 command module in which the astronauts splashed down into the Pacific Ocean. by HrAtsuo, via Wikimedia Commons.

When the oxygen tank exploded, Commander Jim Lovell made the famous statement: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” The engineers on the ground and astronauts had to devise solutions to several very difficult problems and execute them quickly in order to return the damaged spacecraft to earth.

The amazing hacking done by the engineers (including the astronauts) at NASA to create a solution to the serious problems faced by Apollo 13 allowed the astronauts to return home safely. Without the amazing hacking done by those government employees the astronauts would have died.

It is also good to remind people, government workers do amazing things. Sure government workers can also harm society with bad work or by implementing bad policy. But it isn’t the fact that they work for the government that defines the value of the work they do.

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