HP41 and Space Shuttle



#18

Well, this is the first time I post here. I'm wondering if any of the HP41 software used by Shuttle astronauts during in the early '80s, for instance the de-orbit program, is available. I apologize if this question has already been answered.


#19

Around the end of March, I requested copies of the HP-41 shuttle programs (under the Freedom of Information Act) from NASA. This was the answer I received about a month later: "The information that you are requesting is maintained at the Johnson Space Center. Your request is being forwarded to the center; and they will respond directly to you."

Since then, I haven't heard anything from them. Now that you've reminded me, I think I'll contact Johnson directly and see if my request was denied or just got lost somewhere. Oh, I also asked permission to post them here in the Museum, so there's a chance they may show up here someday.


#20

Thank you for the info. Maybe I'll try to contact NASA too, yet I'm not optimist about the result.

#21

Hey, tell 'em to hurry up. It's cold up here and I'm a bit hungry. :|

#22

Hi,

I have two HP 41s, card readers and a 82143 printer that I purchased from NASA at KSC. All of it has NASA property stickers on it and is in excellant condition. I've been trying to track down the HP 41 shuttle software for several years. Here's what I've found out so far:

First, the HP 41 use was not an "official" NASA program. It was something that the astronauts did on their own. They took money from petty cash and went down to a local office supply store in Houston and bought the 41s and related items directly. If the purchase had been done by NASA it would have taken YEARS to go through all the official channels. Since the calculators were bought from a store they are COMPLETELY standard in all respects.

Second: The astronauts wrote the programs themselves. Again if it would have been done through NASA it would have taken YEARS. Because the astronauts were new to the HP 41, the programming is "pretty sloppy" but it works.

Because of one and two above, it's probably going to be difficult if not impossible for NASA to find the programs. The programs were written and used by the astronaut corps. That's were you'd have to go to find them.

Third: I do know someone that has copies of the programs. He told me that he'd dig them out "someday". He's not someone that can be rushed. :-( I've been waiting two years.

Fourth: After the astronauts bought the 41s, they were having some difficulty understanding the manuals (didn't we all!). They asked HP for help. HP sent an engineer to Houston to teach a (one day?) class on the HP 41. I've met and talked to that engineer. He says that he knows nothing about the astronauts programs. He only showed them the basic operation and programming of the HP 41.

BTW I have some programs for calculating satellite launchs and orbit adjustments and related items. These are not generic programs. They refer to specific launch vehicles and certain standard orbits. Some of them are old HP 67 programs and some were written for the HP 41. It looks like some of them may have come from Hughes. Does anyone know anything about them?

I hope this helps,

Joe

#23

If memory helps, the use of the HP 41 aboard the Space Shuttle is shown at the National Air and Space Museum, in Washington DC. I am not sure about the software, but I am almost sure that an HP 41 was on display.


#24

Have your protein pills run out?

Unfortunately we have now become aware that you are a junkie.

And our mothers have told us not to mess with you.


#25

My proteins are OK, but I cannot decode your message and/or intent. If my message bothered someone, I apologize. I remember a display at the NAS Museum, in which computing elements were shown, including circular (special purpose) slide rules for Mercury and/or Gemini capsules, and some elements from the Apollo capsule on-board computer. I think there was also a reference to the HP41 flown in Space Shuttle first missions.


#26

Sorry, that was a message to Major Tom. I replied to the wrong message.

(just think of two songs by David Bowie)

This is probably why... "his circuit's dead, there's something wrong, can you hear me Major Tom? Can you hear me Major Tom. Can you..."

#27

Tonight I was looking over the HP forum at the HP museum. I regret that lately I don't get to do that more often than I'd like.

I'm an HP41 fan (you can check out my web page at www.zianet.com/goodman if you're so inclined).

I looked through the thread of responses to your inquiry.

I'd like to say that I can help you in regards to your 41 inquiry, but I can't. The legacy of the HP through the space program, from the 65 to the 41, has long intrigued me, since I was a kid. But most of it remains lost. That's a shame.

The real reason I'm writing is to say that I would like to promote a respect for the NASA astronauts. Here at my house, among many NASA souvenirs, I have an autographed pic of John Young (we shook hands and talked a while last year) to my daughter. An American legend like John Young didn't have to take the time to return to his office, sit down, and autograph a pic for my daughter, but he did. The day I asked him to do so, he didn't blink twice. He simply grinned and said, and this is a rough quote, "Well I can't seem to sell these pictures, so I might as well give them away..." It's a really neat photo of him covering his days from Apollo to Shuttle. There are probably a number of you out there who don't even know who John Young is. And I guess it doesn't matter, actually.

The politics of NASA make a lot of technical things difficult to obtain and understand (much to my professional frustration), but I've met and talked with a number of astronauts, and they are among the most talented, educated, humble, and courageous folks I've ever met. It's all well to talk about David Bowie and so forth ( I actually like a lot of his music), and I'm sometimes as liberal as the next guy, but truly, we all owe a debt to the US space program that few of "this generation" understand. Even if one ignores the technical steps we've made because of it, it's an honor to have people among us who have met the challenge of exploring space. Please as you go through this thread, keep my words in mind.

Humblest best regards,

aaron


#28

I have as much respect for American Astronauts as the next person.

Any inference that comments made under the name "ground control" as being slurs on astronauts who have the opportunity and guts to do what they do is completely wrong.

I do, however, share your concern about NASA administration (particularly the more recent administration...)

Steve


#29

Steve --

After I posted the message, I thought better of it and realized I came across a bit hard-sounding. Sometimes it's hard to spend one's career in a field and not get (hyper-) sensitive. Especially when it's all you wanted to do since you were a kid.

I apologize for the mistaken inference. No respect lost and I hope you feel the same.

Also sorry I took the thread out on a tangent. Lesson learned. Won't happen again.

But now that I've gone there, feel free if you ever want to email me about the Space Program. :O)

best regards,

aaron

#30

Aaron said:

The real reason I'm writing is to say that I would like to promote a respect for the NASA astronauts. Here at my house, among many NASA souvenirs, I have an autographed pic of John Young (we shook hands and talked a while last year) to my daughter. An American legend like John Young didn't have to take the time to return to his office, sit down, and autograph a pic for my daughter, but he did. The day I asked him to do so, he didn't blink twice. He simply grinned and said, and this is a rough quote, "Well I can't seem to sell these pictures, so I might as well give them away..." It's a really neat photo of him covering his days from Apollo to Shuttle. There are probably a number of you out there who don't even know who John Young is.

Damm right I know who John Young is! I live in his hometown of Orlando. The name of the local science center USED to be the John Yound Science Center until some big money contributer paid them to change it. Locally it's still known as the John Young Science Center and I'm sure it always will be.

You're absolutely right about the contributions of the space program. We would have never had things like ICs without it. Imagine using HP 9100s instead of HP 48s! That's were we'd be. The same situation applies to MANY areas of technology.

As far as John Young and the other astronauts are concerned I'll only say that it took some major conjones to ride those early rockets!

Joe


#31

Joe said:

"I'll only say that it took some major conjones to ride those early rockets!"

Allow me to respectfully disagree. Respectfully because I deeply admire all astronauts. But given the chance, I think most of us who show up here would PAY for the privilege, and to hell with the danger! :-)

Viktor

#32

Rupert;

I can't recall the name, but HP published a news letter about the HP41. One of the issues mentioned the 41 and space shuttle - picture too! If I remember, the 41 was used to do calculations for the payload arm, were off-the-shelf items, and lacked rubber feet because these would outgas. Can't help much beyond my memory.

Joe


#33

I'll try to add something useful here, in addition to my previous replies ;O)

In addition to what Joe has mentioned, there was also a publication (I can't remember either) which had a photo of a shuttle astronaut holding a 41, and talked about either them having a velcro attachment to attach the 41 to a thigh (similar to a pilot's little ref booklet) or simply storing them in a thigh pocket. The article was, as I recall, specifically talking about routines they used which calculated AOS and LOS times for communications with various ground stations.

aaron

#34

A search of the Johnson SC Web site yielded the following at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/computers/Ch4-6.html:

"In the meantime, the astronauts themselves pioneered efforts to use small computers to add functions and back up the primary systems. Early flights used a Hewlett-Packard HP-41C programmable calculator to determine ground-station availability, as well as carry a limited version of the calculations for time-to-retrofire. Beginning with STS-9 in December, 1983, a Grid Systems Compass portable microcomputer with graphics capabilities was carried to display ground stations and to provide functions impractical on the primary computers. Mission Specialist Terry Hart, responsible for programming the HP-41Cs, said that placing the mission documentation on the computer was also being considered."

Now I wonder who this Terry Hart is and whether he has any copies... Or perhaps he's all fed up by now, being harrassed by calculator nuts? :-)

Viktor


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