The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has ended. Final data was delivered to NASA in April 2017. McMoons (Building 596) has been vacated and the Lunar Orbiter tapes have been archived in another building at NASA ARC. Building 596 itself is likely to be demolished in the near future. The tape drives were donated to the Library of Congress several years ago. In 2017 the LOIRP Project received a NASA Ames Group Achievement Award and the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History from the American Astronautical Society. Further information on this project will likely be available from NASA SSERVI here.
Cara McCormick visited McMoons recently. According to her Twitter account (@caramccee) she is an “Independent archivist, specializing in analog sound, video and photograph preservation. Interested in digital storytelling, music and all things history.”
More of her photos from the visit are here.
— James (@star_avi8r) July 25, 2014
Calling Back a Zombie Ship From the Graveyard of Space, New York Times (front page story)
“For 17 years, [ISEE-3] has been drifting on a lonely course through space. Launched during the disco era and shuttered by NASA in 1997, the spacecraft is now returning to the civilization that abandoned it. It seemed destined to pass without fanfare, except for a slight chance of slamming into the moon, and then loop aimlessly through the inner solar system. But now, a shoestring group of civilians headquartered in a decommissioned McDonald’s have reached out and made contact with it — a long-distance handshake that was the first step toward snaring it back into Earth’s orbit. … Mr. Wingo and Keith Cowing, the editor of NASA Watch, a sometimes cantankerous website covering news and gossip about the space agency, had previously collaborated on a project that resurrected equipment to read 50-year-old magnetic tapes, extracting high-resolution images taken by NASA lunar orbiters in the 1960s — a task NASA had also regarded as infeasible. Mr. Wingo and Mr. Cowing decided ISEE-3 was another worthy effort.”
A Week With Techno-Archeologists, Static Made
“I’ve spent the past week in Mountain View, California, hanging out with a group of Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) hackers who are working out of an abandoned McDonald’s on the NASA Ames base. For more than five years, LOIRP technologists (or techno-archeologists, as they prefer to be called) have been reverse-engineering analog tape drives and developing new software in an attempt to unearth some of the first images of the moon that were taken by unmanned lunar orbiters in advance of the manned Apollo missions of the late 1960s. Upon entering the building (affectionately called “McMoon’s” by those who work within it) for the first time, I was greeted by familiar architecture. The drive-thru windows, menu light boxes, stainless steel counters, fiber glass tables and the ghosts of corporate brand ephemera all remain. However now they coexist under a jolly roger with a literal mountain of vintage 2-inch tape reels that contain trapped data, refrigerator-sized Ampex tape drives, an army of Mac workstations and a seemingly endless supply of analog tape decks, monitors, cables and soldering supplies.”
Images from the Carnegie Museum of Art team’s visit to McMoons last week on Flickr
Dennis Wingo: We have had some great visitors over the last couple of days. One group is Dave Martinez and Ana Huante from Dave Martinez Technologies. Great group of folks who are key evangelists and designers of the Google Glasses. Here is a picture of them visiting us yesterday! Click on image to enlarge.
Dennis Wingo: Today we had a real treat. One of my mentors from Huntsville, David Christensen, one of the early members of the von Braun team in Huntsville, came by to visit LORIP today. Dave is one of my hero’s and inspirations for what we are doing here at LORIP. Remember hearing that the Saturn V drawings were lost? Remember that years and years later the story came out that one guy saved them? That one guy was Dave. Dave also has an extensive library of Army Ballistic Missile Agency (Where Von Braun worked) information about the early Saturn designs, the redstone, and space stations.
Dave also has an extensive library of commercial space documentation and he was one of the inspirations for what was called Code C (Commercial) at NASA in the 1980s. Also, he is one of the nicest humans you ever want to meet! Take a look at this picture, can you believe he is 81? He is shown here with our student engineering intern Jacob Gold, bridging the generations of space engineers. The second picture was taken in 1958 and shows Ernst Stuhlinger, von Braun, Hermann Oberth and others seated. Dave is the second from the right standing. Dave published the world’s first space age magazine devoted to telling the public about what was going on in space. One of the covers of “Space” is the third picture. Autographed by Oberth himself!
Dennis Wingo: “Michael Wright came by and picked up his image this past week and we took a picture of him with our FR-900 machine. We thank Michael for his support! He also brought by some pictures of paintings by LOIRP benefactor Don Davis, of the iconic L5 habitat images from Gerry O’Neil’s studies in the 70’s. Many of us are Gerry’s kids…”
McMoons is located here at NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, CA. Next to our building (Building 596) is a 50 year old Titan 1 ICBM that we’re helping students to restore, upgrade, and transform into a teaching tool. We like to make old stuff work.
Click on images to enlarge
More images below
(L to R) Bob Richards, CEO, Moon Express, Keith Cowing, SpaceRef/LOIRP Co-Lead, Dennis Wingo, SkyCorp/LOIRP Co-Lead, George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic. Photo taken at the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) facility at Building 596 (aka “McMoons”) at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, CA on 29 July 2011.