Hi I am Dennis Wingo and I am the founder of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) and the CEO of Skycorp Incorporated. We specialize in doing things that are hard and have focused a lot of effort in recapturing original data from NASA legacy space missions over the past several years,
This effort has spawned a new word technoarcheology, (literally the archeology of technology) and a new way of looking at our past. Think for a moment how much better off our world would be today if some of the ancient engineering marvels of the past like the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the formula for concrete from the Roman empire, and the millions of books from the great library at Alexandria had not been lost? How much farther would we be along the road of civilization? How many mistakes could we have avoided if we had the wisdom of the ancients to consult?
By preserving our technical past as we have with the LOIRP project we help to provide a snapshot in time of our nearest celestial neighbor in a way that can never be repeated. This has also been a way to bring our older retired engineers together with young, eager science and engineering students to provide a mentoring effect that has been so lacking in our culture of late. It is the continuity between the generations that is as important as understanding our deep past that will allow us to move forward into the future.
Now we are taking a great leap into the future to try and save an active spacecraft the International Solar-Environment Explorer (ISEE-3) renamed in 1983 the International Cometary Explorer (ICE). Through a master stroke of orbital dynamics calculations and engine firings, project leader Robert Farquar in the 1980's retargeted the ICE/ISEE-3 spacecraft to return to the Earth in 2014. Like the Lunar Orbiter project, much of the documentation has been lost, hardware scrapped, and the ability of NASA to contact the spacecraft eliminated in favor of newer missions.
However, the ICE/ISEE-3 spacecraft in theory still has working instruments (they were still working in the 1990's and for these spacecraft, the equipment can last for decades), and the propulsion system still has enough fuel to get it back into Earth Orbit. The problem is that we must fire the thrusters before June 20 to be able to get a good orbit.