Question: What exactly turned on the light indicating Apollo 8 was starting to fall towards the Moon? Was this a calculation based on elapsed time and inertial guidance, or did the Apollo computer use some doppler shift information from signals received from Earth?
Was there a separate subroutine in the Apollo 8's computer program to generate this trigger? Considering memory space was so precious it seems surprising for there to be a separate subroutine dedicated to processing data and triggering a signal just to turn on a light, as cool as that sounds.
Borman, Lovell and Anders were the first humans to leave the Earth’s gravity. They also never felt any physical change when the spacecraft slowed down to 3,578 kilometres per hour relative to Earth and crossed over into the Moon’s gravity field at 55:38:40 GET (0629:40 AEST). They were 326,415 kilometres from Earth and 62,598 kilometres from the Moon.
Capcom Mattingly, Welcome to the Moon’s sphere.
Borman, The Moon’s fair?
Mattingly, The Moon’s sphere – you’re in the influence.
Borman, That’s better than being under the influence.
Jack Garman, in the Guidance Support Room in Mission Control, remembered that moment,
“One of my anecdotal stories as they were coasting towards the Moon, which was a long and fairly boring period, a number of us decided to take a bet on exactly when a light would light up on our consoles. This light was connected to a telemetry reading from the on-board computers, that signalled when they determined that they were falling towards the Moon instead of rising away from the Earth, that is, when they had escaped from the Earth. …
When that light came on there was silence – it was a kind of dawning – we were witnessing the first time human beings were falling away from the Earth.”