Easter Eggs in the Apollo Program
On the way to the Moon, the Apollo crew and ground control needed precise information about the position, speed, and acceleration of the stack. Getting that information was a feat of engineering involving very clever solutions that deserve a post of their own, but the easiest piece of the puzzle was the position.
To figure out where exactly the Apollo was at any given moment, the crew used a guidance computer designed by the MIT along with a sextant, not much unlike the ones used for centuries by sea captains.
The CMS pilot would pick a specific star (or planet sometimes) that was within view of the sextant optics, align the sextant and then tell the guidance computer to calculate the position by telling it which star the sextant was aligned with.
The astronauts had a table of stars to be used, each accompanied by an octal code that could be fed to the computer. In this list, along with well-known stars—such as Sirius (15), Rigel (12), and the Sun (46)—were three oddly named stars.
The crew of Apollo I decided to have a little fun and added references to themselves in the list by changing stars to portions of their own names spelled backwards:
- Navi (03) for Gus Grisson’s middle name (Ivan)
- Regor (17) for Roger Chaffee
- Dnoces (20) for Edward White II.
The people of Apollo kept these names in their literature out of respect to the fallen crew.