Block I Apollo DSKY Interface

22 May

Extremely important original Block I Apollo Guidance computer display and keyboard (DSKY) unit, a predecessor to the Block II intended for application onboard the Apollo Command Module and Lunar Module. A 24.4 pound, 9.5 x 10 x 7.25 data entry and display device with 18 keys, including a calculator interface and digit display, two status lights, a dial to adjust brightness of the display, and an accept/block toggle switch. Back of the unit retains its NASA Raytheon Co. metal label which reads, “Apollo G. & N. System…Part No. 1003770-161; Serial No. RAY 205…Designed by M. I. T. Inst. Lab.” Three “Discrepant Item” labels are also affixed to the reverse. Additionally, three “Decoding Modules” have been bolted to the upper portion of the unit, each stenciled with consecutive serial numbers. This interface was the instrument that allowed the astronauts to communicate directly with the on board guidance computer. The Command Module had two DSKYs connected to its AGC; one located on the main instrument panel and a second located in the lower equipment bay near a sextant used for aligning the inertial guidance platform, with a single DSKY installed in the lunar module. These units would also be used during the Skylab missions. In overall fine condition.

Training on the DSKY was critical for every aspect of the mission. This was the astronaut’s interface, allowing access to the Apollo Guidance Computer developed by MIT. The device permitted the astronauts to collect and provide flight information necessary for the precise landings on the moon. Each different program had a two-digit code and commands were entered as two-digit numbers in a verb-noun sequence. It was the DSKY that provided the astronauts with critical burn times for engine firings, course corrections, trajectories, and other key calculations vital in getting a crew to and from the moon. It was also the DSKY that reported the program alarm moments before the LM touched down on the lunar surface on the first lunar landing.

Only about 12 of these Block I interfaces are believed to have been manufactured, with the original cost for each unit in the neighborhood of $200,000. The Block I design, due to its modularity, could be fixed during a mission that carried appropriate spares. Only one manned Block I mission flew, as the Apollo 1 fire required the spacecraft redesign that incorporated all of the Block II changes. These changes included discarding the ‘in-flight’ repair concept of Block I. Every Apollo crew member was trained to use these interfaces for various parts of their missions, as these were absolutely critical to the success of each mission. RR Auction COA.

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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Apollo


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