ChatOps — Lessons from the Apollo Lunar Landings — Part V

Diagram of MOCR (NASA)
  • The various “back rooms”, which directly supported controllers in their field of expertise. Today, we’d call these Subject Matter Experts.
  • The SPacecraft ANalysis (SPAN) room held technical experts and managers from both NASA and contractors whose goal was to identify the nature of problems and bring the relevant expertise to the forefront.
  • The Mission Evaluation Room (MER) was a place for experts to brainstorm solutions to problems.
Wide angle view of Mission Operation Control Room (MOCR) during a later Shuttle mission (Wikipedia/NASA)
Headsets in use during the Apollo missions (NASA)
  • A unique communication loop between the Astronauts and CAPCOM — This is the only loop that the astronauts could hear, so that they wouldn’t be disturbed by the rest of the communication.
  • A loop that the flight director controls and all the flight controllers listened in on — this was a very important loop because it’s where the controllers got their primary instructions!
  • The controllers had a loop to their backroom (this is how Steve Bales and Jack Garman talked to each other).
  • The controllers had another loop to their representative in the MER and/or SPAN rooms.
  • Another special loop was that of the Public Affairs Office (PAO) which was broadcast to the public. This was usually the CAPCOM-Astronaut loop with additional explanations to clarify what was going on.
Screenshot from Apollo 11 in Realtime, showing (only some, not all) of the active loops when Neil Armstrong reported the 1202 alarms (
ChatOps screen in Slack, showing initial alert on service (IBM)
ChatOps screen in Slack, showing a human aided by a bot. (IBM)
ChatOps screen in Slack, showing conversation between humans and bots. (IBM)



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Robert Barron

Robert Barron


Lessons from the Lunar Landing, Shuttle to SRE | AIOps, ChatOps, DevOps and other Ops | IBMer, opinions are my own