History of Space Technology

History of Space Technology

This is one of the most fascinating discussions I’ve heard on a podcast. The discussion of early space technology brought back many memories of my early electronics education.

I subscribe to O’Reilly Radar podcasts on iTunes. The company has begun a new series, Solid, based on its Solid conference. Here is the description of the conversation.

In the first episode, we discuss the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, which has rescued NASA’s first high-resolution images from satellites orbiting the moon. Dennis’ team reverse-engineered the extraordinary analog image transmission system that the satellites used in 1966 and 1967, digitized 14 tons of magnetic tape, and interpreted them to compose imagery at vastly higher resolution than NASA was originally able to recover from the satellites.

Before the invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD), collecting and transmitting images was an electro-mechanical enterprise. The process required to get images from the moon to the earth highlights the ingenuity of NASA’s early engineers — and the relative ease of working with electronics today, when crossing between physical and virtual is straightforward.