When the Apollo 11 spaceflight departed the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969, it was carrying three astronauts, mankind’s aspirations to finally land on the Moon, and sophisticated equipment that made it all possible. Prior to the historic spaceflight, NASA contracted several companies to build the Saturn V launch vehicle, the Apollo spacecraft that landed on the Moon on July 20, and the Apollo ground control center in Houston. The Dallas based Texas Instruments was one of the subcontractors that supplied parts for all three components of the Apollo 11 mission.
TI World reported in its August 1969 issue that “in a televised transmission on the return trip to Earth, Astronaut Mike Collins cited the flawless
performance of the equipment in Apollo 11,” while holding one of the switches on the control panel of the command module -the capsule that brought the astronauts back to Earth. The switch, TI World proudly pointed out, had been produced by TI’s Control Products division in Attleboro, MA, one of a total of approximately 800 switches required by the space mission. Hundreds of TI’s small signal transistors, silicon and germanium power transistors, computer diodes,, miniature thermostats worked without a hitch to ensure the success of the spaceflight and Moon landing. While it didn’t actually go to the Moon or even outside of Dallas, the data signal conditioner in the image is an example of an integrated circuit similar to the luckier ones that were selected for space travel.
In 1969, Texas Instruments was not a novice in the space exploration field. A leader in the semiconductor industry due to its innovations in the integrated circuit and integrated circuit and solid state technology, Texas Instruments established a Space System branch that supplied equipment to space exploration programs such as the Mariner Mars and Venus probe missions, the Ranger 7 photo mission to the Moon, as well as the subsequent Apollo, Mariner, Voyager, and Discovery missions that all enhanced space travel and exploration. Since low weight was essential in spacecraft, TI was capable to produce and deliver small devices, all due to the company’s pioneer innovations in the transistor and integrated circuit technologies.
IRIS (Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer) measured atmospheric constituents and temperature profiles of planets. Measurement accuracy was achieved in the TI labs via the IRIS bench checkout equipment.
Data and image recording devices built using TI components are essential in the recording and transmission of information taken by the space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which were launched in 1977, and have since traveled beyond the known planets and into the interstellar space. The Hubble Space Telescope pictured here uses TI built imaging chips.
Texas Instruments Records document the company’s advancements in the semiconductor industry that led to significant developments in the transistor technology and the invention of the integrated circuit.
By Ada Negraru