NASA's Original Lunar Images Are Housed in a Former McDonald's

"This is the world's most unique [ex-]McDonald's." 

At an old McDonald's at NASA Ames Research Park in Moffett Field, California, there are no Big Macs or chicken nuggets.

Instead, there are reels and reels of original footage from the five lunar orbiters NASA launched in 1960. It's all part of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, an effort by Dennis Wingo and colleagues to digitize the old tapes

What it means is that the first image of Earth as seen from behind the moon is located in this former fast food joint, known colloquially as "McMoon's."

"We even had someone come in one time, and we said, this is not a McDonald's anymore. And they said, well, can we at least get a coke?" Wingo, co-founder of the project, says in the video above made by YouTube host Veritaserum. "And I said, well, I can get one out of the fridge." And a coke was served.

A McDonald's may be a banal setting for such profound work, but how charming too. Who needs grandeur, when you have something so grand?

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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