Code that landed Apollo 11 on the moon is now available online

Creating a flight software for the Apollo 11 guidance system to land on the moon is easier to make today unlike the technology in the 1960s wherein it involved a significant amount of time and resources.

The code responsible for the first moon landing is now readily available online, after a former NASA intern Chris Garry uploaded the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) code to GitHub last week. The flight software code was developed by programmers at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory in the 1960’s.

Even though the code for the MIT-designed system has long been available to interested researchers, this is the first time it is largely made available online to public.

The code written in assembly program language, which was specially designed and invented to store in memory data structure known as “rope memory” structure. However, there are some hilarious strings in the code such as “BURN_BABY_BURN–MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.agc”

Other highlights include the file PINBALL_GAME_BUTTONS_AND_LIGHTS.s, which is for the keyboard and display system, and the comment for TRASHY LITTLE SUBROUTINES in LUNAR_LANDING_GUIDANCE_EQUATIONS.s.

The codes were specifically designed to be easily understood by computers, not humans. It is not surprising given that coders still have the same habit of hiding things in the countless lines they write just to get the computer to work. It’s great to see that the folks working on such a major task managed to have a sense of humor and have it reflect in their work.

Apollo 11 was the first spaceflight by NASA that landed humans on the Moon. A team of 3 astronauts Neil Armstrong,Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins landed on moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong became the first to step on the moon surface on July 21.

If you are interested in checking it out, you can access all of the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer code on GitHub.