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How NASA's Apollo Program Triggered the Silicon Valley Technical Revolution



President John F. Kennedy's famous speech in 1962, which instructed the United States to enter the moon within the decade, sparked an innovation leap. In just seven years, America has moved from a backwardness of the Soviet Union in space technology to attaching a flag on the lunar surface.

The Apollo program was the birthplace of the modern technical ecosystem, says Basil Hero, a former investigative reporter and media manager who authored the new book, "The Mission of a Life".

"Without [Apollo]I think the computer revolution would not be that fast and on the same path," Hero told CNN Business. "It would have taken an extra 1

0 or 20 years."

NASA's Apollo program was the first "moon shot". And the ingredients that have led to its success have been an attitude that requires everything, loose management structures, and comprehensive funding.

Kennedy estimated early that the first moon landing would cost about 7 to 9 billion dollars. When James E. Webb became NASA Administrator in 1961, he first asked Kennedy to double that amount. It was a move that "any venture capitalist who has funded a high-tech startup would understand," writes Hero in "Mission of a Lifetime."

The most common mistake of entrepreneurs is to insist that they can start their business cheaply, said the hero. They could retire from the business.

The congress sponsored the Apollo program and issued large checks year after year. Legislators even empowered NASA to offer "super-grade" salaries in 1962 so that the space agency could afford to employ the best and most intelligent, as Hero noted in his book.

But NASA could not play as a bureaucratic regime if it wanted to blow people to the moon in less than 10 years.

Enter George Mueller. He left a distinguished career with research groups such as Bell Labs to head NASA's Human Spaceflight Program in 1963. The space agency's history office described him as a "matter-of-fact, forward-looking leader" who "introduced a remarkable array of management changes."
  NASA wants astronauts to return to the moon in 2024. Is that possible?

Müller created a "flat organizational structure": he cut out the middle management and "made sure that the engineers at the front were able to address their concerns directly to the Tip of NASA, "said Hero. When security concerns were voiced or an idea just did not work, the decision makers listened and quickly changed course.

"They really trusted the lower-level people, and the engineers benefited," said Hero. Even today, California's startups and technology giants from Facebook to Google are swearing by the same management technique.

"Our goal is to inspire people more than to manage them," Netflix ([19459013)] NFLX ) states in his influential Manifesto on Work Culture. "We trust our teams to do what they think is best for Netflix – and give them plenty of freedom, power and information to support their decisions."

Apollo managers also had no problem winning young visionaries for unprecedented tasks A move that mimics Silicon Valley and whose obsession it is for young minds to think outside the box.

Mission Control in Houston, Texas, for example, was an operation that had no predecessor and no one knew how to handle it. So his manager, Christopher Kraft, brought along a couple of ambitious 20-year-olds. According to Hero, the average age of Mission Control personnel during Apollo 11's moon landing was only 26.

Other Moon Shots

In terms of computing power, a modern mobile phone could surpass the entire Apollo spacecraft, wrote the physicist Michio Kaku in a book of 2011.
The digital revolution that followed Apollo was no coincidence. According to Hero, Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs have developed computer technology developed by NASA during the Apollo era. SpaceX's massive Starship prototype takes off "src-mini =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190726115929-spacex-starhopper-success-untethered-test-small-169.jpg "src-xsmall =" http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext /dam/assets/190726115929-spacex-starhopper-success-untethered-test-large-169.jpg "src-medium =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190726115929-spacex-starhopper-success- untethered-test-exlarge-169.jpg "src-large =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190726115929-spacex-starhopper-success-untethered-test-super-169.jpg "src-full16x9 = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190726115929-spacex-starhopper-success-untethered-test-full-169.jpg" src-mini1x1 = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam /assets/190726115929-spacex-starhopper-success-untethered-test-small-11.jpg "data-demand-load =" not-loaded "data-eq-pts =" mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308 , medium: 461, large: 781 "/>

Some of the technology titans who dominate today's headlines see NASA and Apollo as sources of inspiration, and some have Apollo-like ambitions ,

Elon Musk, who made a fortune from Paypal ( PYPL ) and now runs Tesla ( TSLA ) and SpaceX, states that he will tirelessly pursue the goal of reviving space exploration technologies with a rocket capable of bringing people to Mars.
Jeff Bezos, the multimillionaire behind Amazon ( AMZN ) has addressed the moon landing as a source of inspiration in numerous interviews and public appearances Peeches. He is personally funding his own space project Blue Origin, which aims to bring people back to the moon.

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