Sometimes we reduce history to condensed versions of the truth that leave out a lot of the story.This, for example, is what we remember of July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon, and their every step was monitored back on earth by men dressed in white shirts and skinny black ties, tethered to headsets at NASA’s Mission Control in Houston.
Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 1/2 hours on the moon’s surface.
They collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of moon rocks for return to Earth.
It also wasn’t unusual for them to bring their kids to the lab, especially on weekends. Hamilton headed the software engineering division that developed the onboard flight software for the Apollo command and lunar modules.
When her daughter Lauren visited the lab, she liked to play astronaut — she once pushed a button that caused its flight simulator to “crash.”That child’s play had serious implications — Hamilton realized that an astronaut could make the same mistake.
She made a change in the software so an alarm would sound if the computer processor became overloaded.
It would then decipher whether the problem warranted aborting the mission.
“We need that diversity, and we need people to see themselves in space exploration because we’re going to need all of them to succeed in the future.”“Our astronauts didn’t have much time, but thankfully, they had Margaret Hamilton,” President Obama said in 2016 when he presented the Cambridge resident with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The world watched on television as Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969. As he stepped onto the lunar surface, Armstrong said, “That is one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” July 20, 1969.
In a 2015 Globe interview, Hamilton said this about being a female engineer: “Some things were more difficult for a woman then. Some of these women were known as “computresses.” Back then, women studied math and engineering as if they were destined to be in these fields.
Poppy Northcutt was one of the computresses, and in the 1960s she became the first female engineer at Mission Control.