When you accidentally delete data at work, it's not usually a life or death situation. But what if you were in space and relied on that data to get home?
When you think about unlucky space missions, the one that comes to mind is probably Apollo 13 (thanks to Tom Hanks). But did you know that there was another, earlier, Apollo mission that also came close to going horribly wrong?
In 1968, Apollo 8 set off on the first ever manned flight around the moon. But five days into the flight, an unfortunate accident almost doomed those on board. James Lovell Jr, one of the astronauts (who, coincidentally, was also on Apollo 13), accidentally pressed the wrong button and deleted Apollo 8’s navigation data.
Wishing for an ‘undo’
And this wasn’t the kind of problem that could be fixed with a quick CTRL+Z (it was the 60s, remember). Lovell’s accidental deletion actually meant that the spacecraft’s computer was unable to work out how to get the astronauts home — leaving them stranded in space.
Luckily, although she was hundreds of thousands of miles away, there was a woman who knew just what to do.
Margaret to the rescue
Her name is Margaret Hamilton — an MIT programmer who’d helped program the spacecraft’s computer in the first place. With the help of her colleagues, Margaret devised a plan to upload new navigation data to the spaceship's computer, using the computers back at NASA.
As well as saving the astronauts' lives, Margaret’s work that day changed the way people see software engineering forever.
Bringing us back to earth (and foodservice)
This is a prime example of how much difference great people can make to the workplace. It shows how having the right people, with the right skills, can turn any situation around — and that’s something you’ll want for your business.
That's why we focus heavily on putting together a team of great people at all our sites. And because we’re so careful about picking the best people, it means we can deliver an outstanding service to each and every one of our customers.
Discover more about how important people are to your business, by visiting our ‘Great People’ page.