A Bit of History

This is a bit off topic, away from the world of databases, but it certainly does touch on the power of computers.

I had a great 2015 holiday season, taking not one, but two vacations. Our family had their annual ski trip to Steamboat Springs, which is always enjoyable. However before Christmas, I took my 17 year old on a birthday trip to Florida. We’ve gotten away from parties and gifts, instead trying to give kids memories.

In this case, we journeyed to Cape Canaveral, spending a few days at the Kennedy Space Center viewing exhibits and going on tours. My son was thrilled to see real rockets, especially the Saturn 5, and also tour one of the launch control rooms. In fact, we could see the countdown clock active for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on our tour of the Launch Control Center.

That was exciting to see. I’d tried to schedule the trip near a launch but couldn’t get away during the launch dates with school and work commitments. However the day we left, I saw the announcement that the previously TBD SpaceX launch had been scheduled during our trip. After a scrub one night with wind and rain, the launch took place our last night in town.

The official video is better than mine, which I recorded from the Cape Canaveral causeway, about 5-6 miles away. It’s an amazing piece of history. Other than my wedding day and the births of my children, this was the most amazing thing I’d seen, even from a distance. I’m interested in space and technology, but not a big space geek. However I was definitely giddy at seeing this bit of history.

Computing technology has helped us achieve some amazing things, and in conjunction with incredible engineering, as humans, we’ve managed to accomplish some amazing feats with rockets and space travel. I look forward to seeing what will happen across the next few decades as more companies and countries tackle new challenges in space.

And if you ever have any doubt about the power of the computers we use, it appears the Falcon rocket uses x86 processors, like so many of us.

Steve Jones

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