Dan Lickly graduated from MIT with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and started working at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory in 1957 on the Polaris Missile project. Moving to the Apollo program in 1961, Lickly focused on reentry, which included the guidance and later, autopilot, programs through 1964. Lickly then found himself in charge of Saturn V, programming the SA501 and 502 (Apollo 6). During the 502's flight, some of the engines were damaged and the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) took over to compensate for the failed burn.
He also lead of one of the many programming groups on the AGC. With nothing but equations and Newton’s laws, they programmed each phase of reentry and ran it through the simulation computers. Lickly was a “rope mother,” a reference to his supervisory position and the use of core rope memory in the AGC. Any final decisions about the programming code went through him.
Lickly left the IL and joined Intermetrics in 1969. He taught computer science at University of New Hampshire.