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The Beatles were warming up to play Shea Stadium at the moment it was being taken.”Between 1966 and ’67, five Lunar Orbiters snapped pictures onto 70mm film from about 30 miles above the moon.The satellites were sent mainly to scout potential landing sites for manned moon missions.
“There’s a certain spy program heritage to all this, but these guys went above that, because those spy satellites would send their images back. The results were pretty grainy, but clear enough to identify landing sites and potential hazards.
The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data tapes.
They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise (first slide above).
After the low-fi printing, the tapes were shoved into boxes and forgotten.
They changed hands several times over the years, almost getting tossed out before landing in storage in Moorpark, California.
So we started buying used parts on e Bay, Radioshack–I was sitting at a black tie reception at one point buying something on my i Phone.
We just buy and reassemble these things bit by bit.”The drives had to be rebuilt and in some cases completely re-engineered using instruction manuals or the advice of people who used to service them.
You won’t get a burger there, though–its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers who’ve rechristened the place Mc Moon’s.
These self-described techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the ‘60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites.
As the Apollo 8 command module rounded the farside of the Moon, the crew could look toward the lunar horizon and see the Earth appear to rise, due to their spacecraft's orbital motion.
The famous picture that resulted, of a distant blue Earth above the Moon's limb, was a marvelous gift to the world.
Each satellite would point its dual lens Kodak camera at a target, snap a picture, then develop the photograph.