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Frank O'Brien
Historian at NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory


KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Apollo 11 Computing - Lessons for Today's Data Centers 

The first voyages to the moon stretched technology to the limits of the possible. In particular, the computer on-board the Apollo spacecraft was revolutionary and incorporated capabilities that are advanced even by today’s standards. 

NASA historian and author Frank O’Brien will present an overview of the computer and what made it able to navigate a spacecraft and its precious human cargo on a voyage from the Earth to the moon. With that background, he will review the critical lessons learned from Apollo, and how they apply to today’s data centers and computing infrastructure.

About Frank

Frank O’Brien has been a volunteer for NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 25 years, contributing to their education/public outreach mission. He is a recognized expert on the Apollo lunar missions, especially in its computer, and guidance and navigation systems. The last nine years he has been a Solar System Ambassador for JPL, giving monthly lectures on a wide range of spaceflight topics. Frank is also the author of “The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation,” a comprehensive book on the computer that took mankind to the moon.

Frank has spent his career working in large data center environments, beginning with large mainframe systems before moving on to managing large SAP systems. His responsibilities also included disaster recovery, communications and mail systems.

Notably, he lives just down the road from where the Martians invaded the Earth at Grovers Mill in 1938. No, you can’t make this up.

Speakers at this event