By Jim Mesko, Joe Sewell, Don Greer
Built out of the DB-7 sequence of sunshine bombers. A-20s, Havocs & DB-7s observed motion in nearly each significant theatre of operation in the course of WWII. Used as a gentle bomber, floor strafer & nightfighter. Over a hundred photographs, forty element drawings, three pages of scale drawings, thirteen colour work, 50 pages.
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Take the 1960s, for exam ple, where radio communication with probes preceded man to the Moon. Regardless of how sophisticated it may be, no spacecraft is of any value unless it can be tracked accurately to determine where it is and how it is performing. Only in doing so can the data it is collecting—whether pictures of celestial objects or television broadcast signals—be transmitted, received and used on the ground. This data, reduced into useful information by computers and electronics on the ground, enable the user here on Earth to analyze data from space.
Real time opera tions at ever-increasing data rate became the prime consideration. “To know accurately where the spacecraft was at any given moment was extremely impor tant to us,” said Kraft. “A review of the early history, particularly of the Mercury flights, reveals that we often had to make some very delicate decisions whether to continue some of these flights or not. ”11 To this end, Kraft recalled a specific problem that the network had to deal with involving the critical “Go/No Go” decision as whether to con tinue a flight or initiate an abort.
As we broach the twenty-first century, satellite users now routinely rely on the internet for data access and file transfers. This access extends to such remote locations as the South Pole, where NASA was instrumental in providing internet access to researchers. When one speaks of space exploration, “high technology” usually comes to mind. To this end, the aphorism “If NASA can put a man on the Moon . . ” has become a part of the English vernacular, perhaps even to the point of being somewhat trite.