Why Margaret Hamilton Was So Important to Space Exploration

There are those people throughout history who manage to make such great contributions to the rest of the world, their story is told long after the event actually happened. Such is the case with Margaret Hamilton, a software developer who worked with a group at MIT during one of the most pivotal times in history.

If you love space flight or you are a history buff, then this is a name that probably already sounds very familiar to you. After all, she was one of the individuals directly responsible for getting the Apollo space program off the ground. If it had not been for the tireless work of her and the other people who worked with her, there is a very real possibility that the space program as we all know it today would never gave happened.

For all intents and purposes, the term software engineer did not exist until she and her team went to work on the Apollo space program. Together, they developed a stack of software codes that when printed on paper and placed in a single stack, measured almost six feet tall. As you can imagine, there is a great deal that goes into developing the software for a craft that will ultimately be traveling to outer space. That was especially true back then, when the space program was still new and engineers were working around the clock to get things figured out.

There is nothing simple nor straightforward about an aircraft that will be taking flight into space. If you think about how complicated the software systems of today are, imagine what it must have been like to develop even more complex systems with the limited technology that was available at the time. Nevertheless, they managed to pull it off. It was no easy task, to be sure, but the point is they did it. At a time when many people were doubting the very existence of the space program, they proved to the whole world that it was indeed possible.

One of the most important things you should remember here is that they had a number of significant challenges that had to be overcome. Things definitely did not always go as planned. They were constantly required to think on their feet and develop new solutions to issues as the arose. Hamilton was always very proud of the work that she and her colleagues accomplished and it’s easy to understand why. They were an integral part of the space program. In addition, they were there from the very early stages of the program. Many, including Hamilton, continued to work with NASA and the space program for a number of years, long after those early days of space flight.

Hamilton even helped with additional major projects like the International Space Station and even the software development for the space shuttle program. Over the years, the technology changed a great deal but for the most part, the risks of space travel remained largely unchanged. It proved to be a tremendous benefit to have someone like Hamilton at the helm of the software development program. This made the entire process of transitioning from the Apollo space program to the space shuttle programs and even the International Space Station much easier than it otherwise might have been.

Many people have the opportunity to do something interesting with their career and some even have the chance to do something that really matters. There are, however, relatively few who are capable of pulling off what Hamilton has accomplished over the years. She has made a positive impact on the space program as a whole. Because of her efforts, more is understood about what is required to successfully put someone in space than ever before. That is precisely why she is so important when it comes to the topic of space exploration. If she had not made the effort to change the face of things back in the 1960s, the United States may not have had the success with the space program that it has enjoyed thus far. In fact, it might not have had any success at all.

Space travel will always be challenging. That being said, Margaret Hamilton made it possible. For those who are brave enough to travel the great distances required to explore space, a possibility of success is the most important thing they need.


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