This is not a NASA Website. You might learn something. It's YOUR space agency. Get involved. Take it back. Make it work - for YOU.

NASA Has A Strange Way of Sharing Data

By Keith Cowing
August 2, 2006

ESA Huygens Scientific Archive Data Set Released, ESA

“The unique data obtained by the six Huygens experiments are now being archived in the ESA Planetary Science Archive (PSA). A copy of the archived data set is also available in the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS). Access to the Huygens archive is open from today to the wide scientific community.”

NASA MSFC’s Lunar e-Library Puts Space History to Work, Marshall Star (NASA MSFC)

“The free DVD document collection is available to NASA and aerospace professionals and can be obtained by filling out two forms …”

Editor’s note: This article is a little misleading. When you go to the links in this story you learn that “this DVD knowledgebase contains 1100 (.PDF) items with an emphasis on documents produced during the Apollo/Saturn era”. But when you see how to get a copy you get a stern warning that “Distribution: Available upon request to US citizens only” and that “All software developed or provided through the SEE Program server has been determined to have export restrictions.”. You also have to sign some scary agreements.

I’ll be willing to bet that most – if not all of the material included in this compendium is easily available without restriction elsewhere – and has been so for decades (look here). If there are some truly sensitive things in there why not deal with that stuff on a case-by-case basis separately – instead of just dumping everything into the “U.S. Citizens-only” category.

This is most curious. Data (much of it public domain) from a lunar program completed more than a third of a century ago is still considered too sensitive to share with other countries – yet we are trying to get them to join in on the VSE and go back to the very same Moon. At the same time we openly share things on ISS using much more recent hardware – and ESA is willing to share all that it learned from Huygens. Something is a little lopsided here.

I spent 3 minutes and started an annotated version of this page showing materials available online. Anyone who has some links to add (or comments about this secrecy policy) send them to me at

This DVD knowledgebase contains 1100 (.PDF) items with an emphasis on documents produced during the Apollo/Saturn era. Full text is available for 870 documents, and abstracts with source information are included for 230 documents that are copyrighted or limited distribution materials. The Lunar e-Library includes

  • Apollo Mission Reports (missions 4-17)
  • Apollo Preliminary Science Reports 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17
  • Saturn V Flight Evaluation Reports
  • Saturn I and IB Flight Evaluation Reports
  • Lunar Roving Vehicle documents
  • Lunar data and experiment documents from Surveyor, Apollo, Clementine, and Lunar Prospector missions
  • Lunar studies and reference documents including Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) and First Lunar Outpost (FLO) documents
  • Lunar environment and space vehicle design criteria documents with an emphasis on lunar dust, radiation, and orbital debris
  • Web links to and descriptions of web sites that include document sources, databases, images and video, and oral history interviews
  • Information on 16 focused interviews with lunar Subject Matter Experts conducted for the project.

Dear Keith, This is to help you with your list of links to the material that’s contained in the Lunar e-Library. I’ve been tracking down the Saturn Flight Evaluation Reports online, and have found a good few. It would be very nice to see a list that’s as complete as possible. I do hope that you keep collecting them.

[from the UK]


Apollo 4:

Apollo 13:

Apollo 14:

Apollo 17:

Skylab 4:


Skylab 1:

Skylab 2:

Skylab 3:

Keith, Like you, I find the restrictions on decades old Apollo material silly and disturbing. I had always thought that one of Apollo’s shining features was that it was conducted in the open. Our industrial/ technical might was proudly on display for the world.

Wasn’t one of the intended political purposes of the Apollo program was to scare potential enemies? I’m sure the Kremlin thought : “Gee if the Americans can put a man on the moon, they could put an H-bomb in stall # 4 of the Men’s room on the second floor of the Politburo.” Spysat capability could be inferred from the remote sensing abilities of NASA’s planetary probes. I’m quite sure this was intentional. Perhaps this information should be readily available to our enemies once again. Maybe our enemies will say: “Gee if they could do this 40 years ago, what can they do now?”

I’m willing to bet that during the Cold War this information was relatively easily available ( Internet not withstanding) by perusing any university library. I even remember looking at NASA tech documents during my college years of the early 80’s.

I hate the fact that our government is hiding behind post 9/11 paranoia. Let it out in the open, show what free people can do!

You may be aware of some of these already: (lots of stuff, including flight manual) (lots of good stuff, here – stuff that one might think would have been sensitive years ago). (the mother lode)

Hello Keith, here you can find a wealth of pdf documents about Apollo (and a lot more):

From Germany

Try Wikipedia – lots of great links to NASA sites


I bet what they are ‘offering’ on CD can be found on both of these sites – combined or otherwise.. Without being asked to complete paperwork as well..

Many of the documents in NASA’s list (and plenty more from the Shuttle era) were recently posted in the alt.binaries.e-book.technical Usenet newsgroup. Thanks to this world-wide distribution I have them on a DVD of my own. I’m not a US citizen, and I’m not in the US.

I never would have imagined that this information was secret. It’s something that Americans should be damn proud to show to the rest of the world.

Winnipeg, Canada

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.