Preserving the Apollo 15 Flight Data Logs

In 2017, Emory University took the unique opportunity to create a digital learning hub centering around the Apollo Space Program. Emory Library and Information Technology Services borrowed materials from the 1971 Apollo 15 mission (NASA’s fourth manned mission to the moon) to use in creating an interactive website featuring the digital archives from the mission.

The bulk of these unique items consists of the original Flight Data Logs used on board the spacecraft and lunar lander during the successful Apollo 15 mission. Emory received 18 binders and several information “cue cards” containing valuable mission parameters, technical data for the shuttle systems, capsule and lunar lander operations. The binders were in various states of condition, thus there was a necessity to create viable digital surrogates of each flight log in its entirety.  The collection of images and relevant metadata creates an accessible, comprehensive database of these unique artifacts for researchers.

Emory Libraries Digitization handled the digitization of the entire collection of Flight Data Logs and Cue Cards.

I meticulously photographed each of the binders and cue cards using a high resolution archival Phase One camera system. Several large fold out schematic diagrams were also digitized in order to accurately capture the exact data the 1971 mission astronauts used to complete their journey to the Moon. The digital surrogates for each item I photographed were then processed through OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to create searchable text for each image.  Since the physical versions of the Flight Data Logs will not be available for public use, it was important that the images captured were accurate and complete before including them in the forthcoming Apollo Learning Hub. Users will be able to access each Flight Log in its entirety by using the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship Readux repository when the website launches in early 2019.

– Brian Methot

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