Out of this World - Metrology Tools that Supported the Moon Landing
History was made on July 20th 1969 as the first man walked on the moon, all thanks to the Apollo Program which changed the world we live in now in terms of technologies and engineering. The program was a huge accomplishment for engineering and due to its success, it resulted in a massive overhaul of new technologies and products coming into the world. Off the back of the Apollo Program, they stimulated multiple areas of technology (over 1,800 products, in fact), these include; the CAT scanner, computer microchip, cordless power tools, joysticks, and satellite television.
Here are some stats from the Saturn V rocket which went into space:
• The Saturn V rockets that launched Apollo 11 into space was 363 feet tall, weighed 6.2 million pounds and took 7.5 million pounds of thrust to get the Armstrong and his team off of Earth.
• 400,000 people are estimated to have worked on the program.
• It was a collaborative effort between Boeing, North American Aviation and Douglas Aircraft.
• It was an incredibly complex machine made from over 3 million parts.
However, what was the status of industrial metrology tools in 1969 to support the colossal development and manufacturing tasks of the Apollo Program?
“Renishaw was only established in 1973 after the invention of the touch-trigger probe during the Concorde engine development program at Rolls Royce in the early ’70s. Until this time the first coordinate measuring machines that had emerged were extremely primitive manual devices with only a limited digital readout and mechanical ‘hard’ probes. The laser tracker, prominent throughout aerospace manufacturing today, was not invented until 1987. The articulated portable arm CMM patent was filed in 1974.” (source: metrology.news)
In conclusion, all of today’s incredible advanced metrology tools and technologies were not available to support the development and manufacturing involved for the Apollo Program and getting a man to the moon. However, we celebrate the amazing achievement of those involved back in 1969 and we can only imagine how tough it was in achieving the precision which helped them complete the mission as a success.