The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is honored to announce that IBM will sponsor The Mind of Saturn
, an all new exhibit focusing on the Saturn V rocket's instrument unit (IU). This exhibit, which will be housed beneath the Saturn V rocket in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, will honor the men and women who built this vital component containing the computers and guidance systems that enabled astronauts to reach the moon in 1969.
A part of Huntsville's legacy, IBM was an instrumental and vital partner to NASA during the designing and building of the Apollo IU. IBM will share its rich history of space flight and exploration through this exhibit. The exhibit is expected to be completed by July 2011.
To this day, the Saturn V lunar rocket remains the largest and most powerful rocket ever launched and the world's only rocket vehicle with a 100% success rate. Of course, much of that success can be directly attributed to the Saturn's guidance system which was responsible for pre-flight systems tests and analysis, as well as the continuous monitoring of velocity, position and altitude during the ascent, sending up to 25 steering commands per second to the gimbaled rocket engines to keep the massive launch vehicle on course. That same guidance system was also called upon to steer the vehicle out of Earth's orbit and towards the moon, calculating Apollo's escape velocity and signaling engine cutoff.
One of the most amazing aspects of the story is the IBM computer. It was responsible for all of these crucial functions and successfully completed its tasks with only 84 kilobytes. While that computer was powerful for the 1960s era, by comparison, today's musical greeting card typically contains 200 kilobytes of memory.
The Mind of Saturn exhibit will follow suit with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's efforts to present the amazing story of America's manned space flight program in an interactive and chronological order. Visitors will be able to closely inspect the various elements of an actual IU and see demonstrations of each component's function. Other aspects of the exhibit will reveal the IU's gyroscopes and its primitive on-board computer and memory board. The interactive elements include demonstrations of the spacecraft's "roll, pitch, and yaw" commands, plus a pedestal on which visitors will experience the effects of a gyroscope-based guidance system.
The exhibit is currently under design by nationally-known Tom Fricker, of Fricker Studio, Inc. of California. Fricker is responsible for the design of the exhibits currently placed in or planned for the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.