By Meredith McCulloch
Bard Turner was a design engineer on the Apollo project with responsibility for the guidance and navigation system. The task, very simply put, was to see that the Apollo spacecraft arrived at a point in space to rendezvous with the moon and returned to earth, while aiming, as he said, “to keep the pointy end up.”
The integrated circuit technology to make computer circuit elements small was then very new, and these had never been designed into a working computer that supported the various computing tasks needed. Turner invented/refined assembly methods and defined the configuration of the logic section of the on-board guidance computer.
Turner credited the working environment as a big factor in their success. Working independently, engineers were free to develop new technologies, new methods, and new materials while consulting with others, but were not required to go through channels or spend hours in meetings.
In recalling the experience, he said what he most enjoyed was that engineers owned their own part of the project, but everyone owned the whole. “It was our project; everyone wins.”
Editor’s Note: Meredith McCulloch has sought out individuals with Bedford connections who were part of NASA’s Apollo program – Click this link to learn more about her project – each of the interviews will appear separately, under the individual’s name, and will be collected in a single reference document once all are posted.