One of the most popular posts on Reddit recently with over 50,000 likes was the one in the ‘Today I Learned’ section with the following title: “in the event that the Moon landing failed and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were stranded, NASA planned to end communication with the men, leaving them to either run out of oxygen or commit suicide with no further earthly contact” (link). The original source for that post came from a respectable official History article. One of the men whose calculations helped to avoid such a tragic turn of events and helped the astronauts return from the Moon’s surface to the station in the Moon orbit was a Ukrainian-born Professor of Mathematics at New York University Dr. Ihor Bohachevsky. He came up with the formula that would be given his name and become known to the world as the Bohachevsky Function. The formular is considered a benchmark test for the optimization algorithm. The NASA archives have the original description of some of his other works presented by Dr. Bohachevsky personally. I. Bohachevsky was awarded the NASA Design Award for the Apollo Project for his input into the Apollo-11 success.
Ihor’s life story sounds like a Hollywood inspirational film. Born in Western Ukraine in 1928, during WWII at the age 15, Ihor had to spend 2 years in a German labor camp. In 1948 he moved to the USA and went to fight in the Korean War. He entered New York University in 1953 right after his return from it. His Academic achievements and his Function speak for themselves.
Apart from contributing to the success of the Apollo mission, Dr. Bohachevsky worked on issues connected with the controlled inertial fusion process. He also worked as a mathematician at Bell Laboratories and Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International where he was engaged in mathematical modeling of nuclear thermal rocket propulsion.
After Ukraine regained Independence in 1991, Dr. Bohachevsly traveled to Ukraine often.
There was yet another Ukrainian whom Neil Armstrong thanked for his successfull return to Earth. You can read about it HERE >
“Ukraine & the United States” e-book has more stories about the Ukrainians’ input into the US achievments.