UT Dallas Researchers Save Historic NASA Recordings

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas are making history even as they help preserve it.

The team has been entrusted with 19,000 hours of NASA analog recordings from the Apollo 11 moon mission and three others.

"The bulk of how everything got accomplished was through audio. People had to talk to each other," said Dr. John Hansen, the founder and director of UTD's Center for Robust Speech Systems.

The project includes audio from all of the Apollo 11 mission, along with most of Apollo 13, Apollo 1 and Gemini 8 missions.

Hansen and his team have spent the last five years digitizing the recordings and transcribing them for the public.

"When NASA was launching a mission, everyone was miked up. They also had handsets," Hansen said. "They were all recorded on various loops, so you would have anywhere from three to 33 people speaking on any one track at a time."

The team received 200 14-hour-long decades-old tapes, each with 30 tracks of audio.

NASA saved the recordings with a now-outdated analog system, which Hansen estimates would have taken the team at least 170 years to digitize the audio by using it.

Hansen and his team developed their own technology to capture all 30 tracks at once, cutting the process to just four months.

"Developing technologies to pull that audio off, digitize it, but also start to learn how people worked collaboratively when they didn't see each other and how to solve these problems was a major challenge," Hansen said.

Some of the audio recordings are now available online at the following links.

Online:

NASA -- Apollo 11 HD Videos
NASA -- Apollo Missions
UT Dallas - Audio Transcripts
UT Dallas - Researchers Launch Moon Mission Audio Site

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