Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A Philosophy of Spontaneous "Systems" Organization

I am currently reading Apollo 13 Owners' Workshop Manual: An engineering insight into how NASA saved the crew of the failed Moon mission by David Baker. The author goes into amazing detail describing the technology and the processes by which the Apollo 13 mission--crew, mission control, engineers--transitioned from a moon landing mission to an ad hoc rescue effort. Although there were contingency plans for technical failures that might occur at virtually every stage of the flight, the particular emergency Apollo 13 faced was not anticipated; the extraordinary conditions were met with an extraordinary response. At one level, the book provides amazing descriptions of Apollo technology, at another, the book describes an extensive and flexible institutional "apparatus" comprising thousands of engineers, managers, and technicians in NASA, industry, the military, and government. 

Compare, in a sense, Xenophon's descriptions in The Persian Wars of the 10,000 suddenly (and very cleverly) re-organizing after the murder of the Greek generals, and so on.

No comments: