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MIT Computer DSKY that saved Apollo 14 Moon landing sold for $210,261 at auction
The DSKY unit from the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, used by Don Eyles and Sam Drake to verify the software patch needed to avoid an abort during the Apollo 14 lunar landing sequence.


BOSTON, MASS.- A historically significant Apollo Guidance Computer Display and Keyboard (DSKY) sold for $210,261 according to Boston-based RR Auction.

During Apollo 14, a loose ball of solder floating inside the abort switch of the Lunar Module Antares caused an intermittent short circuit, threatening to accidentally activate the switch and rocket the module back into orbit during its landing sequence.

In order to prevent that scenario, MIT computer programmer Don Eyles, a developer of the AGC's source code, was asked to hack his own software to find a workaround. This represented the most dramatic moment for MIT's programmers throughout the entire Apollo program, as they had just three to four hours to work out a fix, test it, and relay it to the astronauts in time for Powered Descent Initiation. Eyles accomplished his task in just two hours, developing a 26-command sequence to be entered into the DSKY that reprogrammed the AGC to ignore the abort button.

The DSKY unit from the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, used by Don Eyles and Sam Drake to verify the software patch needed to avoid an abort during the Apollo 14 lunar landing sequence.

Accompanied by a detailed letter of provenance from the present owner, who was employed at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory to design, build, and maintain the Control Module and Lunar Module cockpit simulators. He retained the DSKY in 1978 when the Lunar Module cockpit simulator was dismantled and discarded.

The DSKY was the astronaut's interface to the Apollo Guidance Computer developed by MIT, and was critical to every aspect of the mission.

Each program had a two-digit code and commands were entered as two-digit numbers in a verb-noun sequence. The device permitted the astronauts to collect and provide flight information necessary for the precise landings on the moon.

“I am not surprised this DSKY achieved a likely world record price, considering the historically significant role it played in saving the Apollo 14 mission ” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

Highlights from the sale include, but are not limited by:

• Mercury Program Earth Path Indicator sold for $99,208.

• Vance Brand's A7LB Suit TMG Assembly sold for $88,586.

• Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 surface Lunar Surface-Used Lunar Module Data Card Book sold for $88,580.

• Apollo Program pressure helmet sold for $62,220.

• Dave Scott's Lunar Surface-Flown Apollo 15 Lunar Module Contingency Checklist sold for $43,751.

• Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 Flown Lunar Surface Checklist sold $37,500.

• Al Worden's Apollo 15 Flown Spacesuit Patch sold for $33,218.

The Space & Aviation Auction from RR Auction began on April 11 and concluded on April 18. More information can be found at www.rrauction.com.





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