Last week saw the release of “First Man”, a film about Neil Armstrong who, nearly 50 years ago, was the first man to walk on the Moon. One of mankind’s greatest achievements.
Amongst the conspiracy theories and misinformation surrounding the Apollo missions, there is an anti-metric meme, sometimes used on social media, that asserts that NASA did not use the metric system in the Moon landings. The meme reads something like this: “There are two kinds of country – Those that use the metric system, and those that have landed on the Moon.”
However, even in the 1960s, NASA engineers and mathematicians worked, at least partially, using the metric system. As is the case in the UK with road signage, the use of metric units in America is often hidden from public view. A good example of this is the Lunar Module Guidance Computer, the onboard computer that assisted Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in their descent to the surface of the Moon. Internally, the computer’s software used metric units for powered-flight navigation and guidance calculations, and values such as altitude and altitude-rate were then converted to imperial units for display console purposes.
Perhaps a new meme is needed. How about: “There are two kinds of country – Those that have used the metric system to land on the Moon, and those that haven’t been to the Moon”.
For further reading see: https://www.doneyles.com/LM/Tales.html