Lockheed Martin Corporation has announced the donation of a class 10,000 clean room to the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP). The clean room will help protect the refurbished 1960’s era Ampex FR-900 tape drives from NASA’s Ames Research Park Building 596 aka “McMoons”, originally constructed to house a McDonalds restaurant.
In the 1960’s these tape drives were operated in an old style computer room, with raised floors, scrubbed air, and tight climate control. Since the building’s air conditioning system was scaled for the heat of a busy restaurant’s kitchen and dining room, near-optimal conditions were attained. However, dust and dirt were still a problem, as one large dust particle can break the tip off of a tape head under the right conditions, so Lockheed’s donation of a 10 x 12 foot clean room will provide a more optimal environment for both of the tape drives.
The clean room has a positive air pressure and airtight filtering protocols to eliminate dust particles from the air. Positive air pressure also prevents outside floor dirt from making its way into intake fan ducts that cool the machines.
Dennis Wingo, LOIRP project lead said “This generous gift from Lockheed Martin will help us to keep the our tape drives operating better in an environment similar to what they were designed for.”