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40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moonwalk and the loss of data

Filed under: archival practices,data storage,history,oral history,video — 2009-07-17 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2009-07-17 by Richard L. Hess

There has been much discussion over the last few years about finding and saving original tapes of the Apollo 11 Moonwalk videos downlinked from the moon. There is also an exciting project going on to restore and digitize the Lunar Orbiter tapes from more than 40 years ago.

The Lunar Orbiter tape digitization folks have just posted a commentary that bears reading by all archivists who are holding tapes. You may link to it here. The main site is

NASA, in their press conference yesterday held at The Newseum, admitted that the original 14-track 1-inch instrumentation (IRIG) tapes that contained the slow-scan video direct from the moon were most likely recycled and reused for later missions. Apparently, over 350,000 reels of instrumentation tape were recycled by NASA over time. No one apparently thought to preserve the 45-odd reels of the original moon walk. (more…)

Sony APR-5000 head assembly problem

Filed under: parts,Sony APR-5000 — 2009-07-14 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2009-07-14 by Richard L. Hess

I was having slightly intermittent connections on one head assembly on a Sony APR-5000 and was concerned as to the cause because the 78-pin head connectors are essentially unobtanium and a headache to change.

As I installed and de-installed the head, I got to thinking that the connector might not be positioned correctly (i.e. perhaps the wrong hardware had somehow found its way into the connector mounting system.

When I measured the bottom (oriented as if the head were mounted in the machine) face of the connector mounting flange referenced to the bottom of the mounting posts (using a straight-edge across two of them), I discovered that, indeed, this connector was recessed about 25 mils (0.025″) further into the head assembly than several other ones. Adding a 25-mil thick washer should solve the problem.

This is posted in case you’re scratching your head with a similar problem. This is something I wouldn’t have immediately thought of. I don’t know if this was caused by aftermarket work or if it perhaps represents a manufacturing error.

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