Chuck Moore: Explorer 11 to Philae's Comet Landing
Dirk Bruehl

"I am not good in writing success stories, but here I give a try, writing an expose"

Old photo of Chuck Moore

In 1958 Chuck Moore started with a program to predict the course of satellites, in 1960 he made his Bachelor of Science in Physics with a thesis on data reduction for the Explorer XI Gamma Ray Satellite, and in 1965 he programmed a real-time gas chromatography on his first minicomputer.

He developed a special programming language, used in 1970 to control the 30-foot telescope at Kitt Peak for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) for a national program for observation and recording of millimeter-waves in the orbit. In August 1980, BYTE Magazine published a special issue about this programming language, "The Forth Language" [pdf].

His next step was to develop a microprocessor, which implemented the basic commands of this programming language as machine code in silicon - a daunting task at this time. But he was successful, and the first of these microprocessors, the 1983 Novix N4000, only needed 4000 CMOS Gates to get it done!

On the base of the N4000 Harris Semiconductor developed the RTX2000 Family, which was not only extreme powerful, but needed only a low current to work and had the ability to be used in outer space. Now ten of these microprocessors are discovering and researching after a ten year journey the Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko with Philae - the first time in mankind of landing a human made instrument on a comet - and a mass-spectrometer, controlled by a RTX2010, is with it. A surprising success story!

Starting with satellite tracking, and now landing his work on a comet, over a span of 56 years!

Dirk Bruehl
dirk.bruehl -at-