The Remarkable Story of the Garden-Shed Project to Restore Lost NASA Moon Photos

By Chris Mills on at

Wired has a great feature today on the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, a group started by a NASA engineer and a space enthusiast to restore stunning images taken by the first lunar orbiter, using antique machinery to scrape together historic images that had been languishing in storage on tape drives for decades.

The story reads like the typical tale of government inefficiency: after images were beamed down from Lunar Orbiters between '66 and '67, they were stored on tape drives with "remarkable fidelity", but the drives were then dumped in storage and forgotten about.

That changed in 2005 when NASA engineer Keith Cowing and space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo were able to find the antique tape drives, painstakingly restore them, and then start piecing the images back together. NASA funding followed, and the team set up shop in an old McDonalds (now dubbed 'McMoon'), from where they've been working to digitise the images. You can view the archives online on their site here, and read the full story on Wired. [Wired]

Image credit: LOIRP