Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP)

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project Overview from SpaceRef on Vimeo.

In the late 1980's Nancy and Mark Nelson from Caltech began a project to obtain surplus FR-900 tape drives, refurbish them, and digitize the analog data on the tapes. This project was partially successful in that they were able to obtain raw analog data but due to lack of funding they were unable to continue their efforts.

Nancy Evans subsequently retired from JPL and Mark Nelson returned to private industry. They obtained the tape drives as government surplus hardware in an attempt to raise private funds for digitizing the lunar images. They were not able to get the funds and the drives sat in a barn in Sun Valley, CA for the next several decades.

In 2007, Nancy Evans tried to find someone to take the drives. Dennis Wingo heard about this and contacted Keith Cowing. Wingo and Cowng subsequetly obtained the drives and tapes and brought them up to NASA Ames Research Center.

For more on the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project visit LOIRP at


So.... Why does the LOIRP project matter?

Preserving information always seems easy at the talking stage.  The problem is that SNIA's 100 year archive study showed that about 50% of the information managed by corporate enterprises has an indefinite retention so that to be prepared we have to be able to handle media, hardware obsolesence, software obsolesence, and many other factors that are simply unknown right now.  The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project is a real project that addresses the issues that we all needed to be prepared for if we intend to retain information in a durable, long-lasting, state. 

Watch, learn, and hopefully avoid mistakes.