“Celebrating the 50th anniversary of mankind’s landing on the moon: a big step for TI integrated circuits.
On July 20, 1969, when TI aerospace engineer Verie Lima and his family were swimming in a community pool in the Dallas area, they suddenly heard a woman yelling: “It’s going to happen!”
“Humanity is about to land on the moon,” Verie said. “When I heard the news, everyone in the pool jumped out almost at the same time and returned to their cars.”
Verie, his wife and three children rushed back home within a few minutes and watched the historical moments of human landing on the moon broadcast on TV in the living room.
“I think about the technology behind the moon landing the most,” said Verie, who has retired from TI.
Verie is a circuit designer responsible for the unmanned space program of TI. The realization of the moon landing is a dream for many engineers like Verie. It is the result of years of hard work. TI engineers have developed products for guiding the Apollo 11 lunar probe, for starting and stopping rocket sprints, and for controlling radar and navigation devices, which are critical to the successful moon landing.
Verie was deeply shocked by Neil Armstrong’s first step when he landed on the moon. But at the same time, he is still thinking about his work.
He said: “The success of Apollo 11 is very important to me. Because if it fails, other work on the space program will also be stranded. The success of the moon landing means that I can continue to do this work.”
Strive to be the top spot in the space race
In the 1960s and 1970s, Verie participated in the development of integrated circuits for the Mariner and Voyager spacecraft. He and thousands of TI employees strive to win the space race.
Sid Parker, a chemist who has retired from TI, has developed a process for manufacturing mercury cadmium telluride materials that can be used to make forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras that can sense infrared radiation.
“Front-viewing infrared can generate images with great detail and has many uses, including deep understanding of the depths of space,” Sid said.
Solving technical challenges to achieve space exploration is critical to achieving President Kennedy’s goal of manned landing on the moon in the 1960s.
“Before Kennedy died, he said that the dream of landing on the moon would be realized within ten years. We firmly believe that we can become a leader in research and development of moon landing technology,” Verie said.
In the late 1950s, the Soviet Union successfully captured the far end of the moon and took the lead in the space race before the appearance of Apollo 11.
“We tried to keep up with the Soviet Union, but we couldn’t,” Verie said. “We are behind. And the Soviets did have their own activities on the moon.”
Many integrated circuits designed by Verie decades ago are still used in space. For example, Voyager II has not been retired from the spacecraft. The spacecraft uses technology from the 1970s to continue to explore the planet and has reached an area more than 13 billion miles from the earth. Verie said that the photos taken by the spacecraft have answered some of the mysteries in the universe, such as whether there is life on Mars. All this is achieved only by the amount of electricity used to power the three light bulbs.
“The significance of the Voyager program is equivalent to that of the moon landing program, because it has done what no one has done before, and no one has done it yet. The results of the program have exceeded 40 years in space. The result of exploration,” Verie said.
Solve the technical challenges of space flight
Without the invention of integrated circuits, Voyager, Apollo, and Mariner would not be able to complete these space missions. 11 years before the first landing on the moon in human history, TI engineer Jack Kilby hand-made the first integrated circuit in the laboratory. Although not immediately recognized, the integrated circuit will help solve the technical problems of space flight because it allows engineers to place multiple Electronic circuits on a small, flat semiconductor material, thereby reducing weight and saving power.
“With lighter weight, smaller power and volume, you can perform more experiments on spacecraft,” Verie said.
The integrated circuit had to make great progress between the two points in time when Jack first introduced the technology on September 12, 1958, to the time when Neil Armstrong took the “small step” of mankind on July 20, 1969. ,
“The problem is not the circuits or components, but the use of the right technology in a zero-gravity environment,” Verie said.
“At TI, it took us only 11 years to develop a new integrated circuit for the most critical mission in the history of aerospace-Apollo 11, which has the same important innovative significance as the first integrated circuit.” Chief Technology Officer Ahmad Bahai said.
lower the cost
In 1959, the US Air Force funded a TI project to study the manufacturing process of integrated circuits. The resulting pilot projects reduced the cost of integrated circuits from US$1,000 to US$450 each, and the development of the manufacturing industry in the following years further reduced the cost of each chip to US$25.
In 1962, TI engineers designed the first integrated circuit device that carried a rocket into space. It is used to create a counter to study the radiation captured in the earth’s magnetic field.
In 1964, our engineers built a command detector/decoder for Ranger 7. The space probe successfully sent the first close-up image of the lunar surface, which allowed scientists and engineers to determine the safest landing zone for Apollo astronauts.
Today, integrated circuits are still the cornerstone of modern Electronic products, with exponential growth in capacity, power, size, and speed. In fact, integrated circuits can support any smart device you own and many things you touch every day. Modern integrated circuits smaller than a dime may contain billions of transistors.
“Smartphones have 240,000 times more memory than the components on the Voyager spacecraft, and are 100,000 times faster,” Verie said. “Unbelievable.”
Verie believes that the future development of technology will exceed our imagination.
“Looking back at the scene where Jack Kilby invented the first integrated circuit in TI Labs in 1958, we have made great progress. I will remember all of this.”
To learn more about the path that integrated circuits have taken since the day they were invented, check out our blog post: September 12, 2019-Jack Kilby Day.
* “Engineering the World” by Caleb Pirtle III, pages 85-86
** “Engineering the World” by Caleb Pirtle III, page 39
*** “Engineering the World” by Caleb Pirtle III, page 39
**** “Engineering the World” by Caleb Pirtle III, page 39