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Many people have heard the story of how a small code error destroyed a rocket – the rocket was an Atlas-Agena B launched in 1962 and carrying Mariner I and the error is commonly reported as a ‘missing hyphen’. However it’s often misreported and I’ve always had questions, so I wanted to get to the bottom of the story and find out the real truths:
It’s not a hyphen, it’s an Overbar.
It wasn’t a simple fat fingered typo by a programmer.
It required a hardware failure to expose the bug.
1950’s rocket guidance technology was hella complicated.
The research for this took a long time but some of the important sources which lead me to the conclusion are detailed in my latest post at Patreon.