Friday, February 22, 2008

Latvians - 1, Space Junk - 0

Blasting apart the hydrazine drooling, brain-dead monster piece of space junk (intended once to be a surveillance satellite) over the Pacific was a deed that must in part be credited to two Latvians -- one the "godfather" of the Latvian IT industry, Janis (yes, a male name) Gobins and the late (I hope I am not wrong) Visvaldis Mangulis.
Janis Gobins, a software specialist, designed the methods by which the software driving the AEGIS naval anti-aircraft missile defense system was written in the mid-1970s (based on the mainframe= today's entry level handheld computer technology of the time). It would be wrong to say that The Godfather (as some in Latvian IT circles affectionately call him) wrote the hyper-complex AEGIS target tracking and management system, but he did prove that a) it could be designed and written b) described how the task to be done. Teams of software engineers took it from there.
The other Latvian-American, recently deceased, was Mangulis, who was behind the design of the phased-array radar that is still a feature of all AEGIS cruisers. He apparently got the idea from earlier work with sonar.

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