Even if you weren’t one of the first humans to put boots on the moon, you can now time-warp yourself back to Apollo 11 with some retro-cool tech.
This may or may not freak your parents out. Space.com found out that S&T GeoTronics, the same company behind those insanely cool World War II Enigma machine replicas, has now rebooted the Apollo Guidance Computer’s (ACG) display keyboard (DSKY) interface to bring space-age technology from half a century ago to your desk via Kickstarter.
The Command Module and Lunar Module of every Apollo mission were each equipped with an AGC. For easy access to all major spacecraft functions, the DSKY was mounted on the center of the console. What had a futuristic vibe in the ‘60s still feels out of this world today. With its backlit status lights and glowing digital display, it looks like something that could have come off the original Star Trek set, which makes sense considering the Enterprise first soared onto TV during the same era.
So what does a computer that predates WIFI and Google and resembles a giant calculator actually do? More than you think. This thing uses the same NASA interface Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins did. It can actually run the actual Apollo spacecraft code developed by software engineer Margaret Hamilton. This was the code that saved the day three minutes before lunar lander Eagle touched down on the moon, overriding a command that would have switched the flight computer’s processing to a radar system that had been accidentally activated.
For those who aren’t taking off anytime soon, it can double as a clock, play anything from Apollo-era sound bytes to music from the 21st century, and even show your GPS coordinates and tell you how long it will take to get there (in the absence of rush-hour traffic). Just like the astronauts, you can enter two-digit commands called “verbs” and “nouns” to tell it which program to run and the data will show up on the DSKY. Just enter a Verb of 16 and a Noun of 36 to find out what time it is.
S&T GeoTronics also mentions that it would make an awesome escape room prop, and knowing how to work it will give you an edge. Keep that in mind next time you do one of those thriller adventure nights.
There are only a hundred of these available. If you have $900 stashed in a moon crater or anywhere else, the fully operational replica will arrive at your door in a mahogany box which houses the computer in its own 3D-printed case. It also comes with its own velour carrying bag. $5,000 will get you one of five steel-cased versions in a walnut box while supporting the project with $8,000 or more will reward you with the ultimate aluminum model. But. If you can DIY, you can still snag a kit to put together your own DSKY for anywhere between $40 for just the circuit board and $500 for the entire gadget.
Back the Kickstarter and you could be typing commands into one of these just in time for the 50th anniversary of that one small step for man in 2019.