In time for the 43rd anniversary of Apollo 17, the all new Apollo17.org is now live!
A few months into the process I had gone as far as I could go. The site was completely functional, had a new layout, the navigator interface was singing, but the site still looked like it was built by a developer (me). I reached out again to my good friend, Chris Bennett for help. Chris is a very talented, multidisciplinary guy. I knew he had both the coding and design skill to take the site to the next level. Chris took the layout I had arrived at (from his original recommended approach of photo-first) and applied his own visual design concept to the site. It’s truly rewarding to work with people of complimentary talents. As the site took shape with Chris’s design, it went from being a personal hobby project of mine, to having a life of its own. Chris also trimmed down (greatly) a lot of the copy I had written while trying to explain things on the site. The simple summary of “A real-time journey through the Apollo 17 mission. Every moment relived as it occurred in 1972.” was really all that needed to be said. I couldn’t be happier with the results of Chris’s efforts. I owe him huge.
Update: Dec 12/2015
The response to the website has been nothing short of amazing. Thousands of people have visited throughout the anniversary so far, and I have received many notes of compliments and thanks. I heard through a friend close to the mission that Jack Schmitt, the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 17 saw the site and thought it was great. I never thought any of the crew would see the results of my efforts and it’s humbling to know that Dr. Schmitt saw it. I also heard that Gene Kranz, Flight Director of the mission said that I have “made the mission come alive once again.” Fantastic!
NASA’s Johnson Space Center shared apollo17.org on Facebook and Twitter. This drove a big spike in traffic and really got the word out among those interested in the history of spaceflight. It was a real compliment that they thought the site was share-worthy. Some people even thought NASA had made it. Nope.
I have also received a lot of positive feedback on the user experience. While there’s plenty of opportunity to make the experience more palatable to a broader audience, the vast majority of people not only understood how to use the site without instructions, but loved how the navigation enabled them to consume such a vast amount of content. I have some ideas on how to improve the interface, but these can wait. For now, I’m going to keep spreading the word about the site during the mission anniversary as best I can.
This is incredible. Thank you for this, thank you a lot.
This is not only beautiful, but it is art. I will certainly find myself listening and watching it during breaks, being able to pause it or head to a specific elapsed time. This was the first mission as a child where I recall the late night launch and pieces of the complete mission. Thanks for your hard work in bringing history to life once more.
Thank you very much. I’m really happy that people are enjoying it. Oh, I should point out that starting at 9:55pm EST tonight, the anniversary of the mission will have started. Watch the site in “now” mode and you’ll be synced to exactly 43 years ago to the second!
WOW! I have been sitting here for the past 30 minutes thinking about how to describe how amazing this is. Speechless I suppose is a good start. I could read a book about Apollo 17, or watch a documentary about it, or read it on a website, or even visit a museum, and yet none of these can compare to the experience of watching and listening to this unfold in real time right before my eyes. I feel as though I am sitting right with the crew, as if they were currently up heading towards the moon right this moment and their messages are being sent right to my house. It truly is a raw, unedited, real experience. No fluff with dramatic music or recreations with actors and what not. There is beauty in just the way the events unfolded. I’ve been listing to it for about 3 hours now, joining in about 20 hours into the mission, realtime with the anniversary I might add. Listing to them talk about procedures to joking around to Schmitt asking Mission Control what his heart rate is, it all just is simply incredible. Even when Cernan began thanking everyone on the ground for their hard work brought a tear to my eye. Not to mention, the brilliant functionality of the website really ties this all together with a virtually seamless unmatched experience.
I’d just like to thank you for all your hard work, seeing that you’ve spent several years putting together 13 days worth of content. I plan to listen to every minute of it. Well perhaps not if there are any 8 hour pauses, but still. The only unfortunate bit is that my discovery of this great site lines up with my finals week at my college. It’s easy to get lost in this but I must hold out for just a few more days…
Thanks for you kind note! The way you describe it as unpolished and raw is exactly what I was going for. There are beautifully done summaries of this mission and the Apollo program in general (When We Left Earth comes to mind) but my thought was in the age of the Internet this material doesn’t need to be editorialized. I’m hoping that people, like yourself, will take the information for what it is. After all, the drama of a landing on the moon is much greater if you’ve been along for the ride for 3 days!
As for your finals week problem, just study during the crew’s sleep periods. As I write this, you have 90 hours to study before they touch down.
Wonderful job on the website folks. Thank you for your hard work. It is truly appreciated. I look forward to checking in many times over the next several days. RS in SC
Pingback: Astronauts oversleep, too: follow Apollo 17 live!* – kicks from science
Absolutely amazing – mesmerizing! Watching it “live” really shows the dynamics in the entire NASA crew – on the moon and on earth.
And the production you folks performed tying all this together in a very user-friendly interface–I compliment you both! Everything is laid out logically–don’t need any help to get going. My only change would be “Mission Control” to “CapCom” and have a way to find out who the other voices are (EVA CapCom was Bob Parker?).
I’ve been pushing this website on my Tumblr blog (along with Google Moon).
Thanks Tom. I’m glad you find the interface usable. It is a bit complex and I was worried people wouldn’t get it. It was CC, then capcom, then I changed it to mission control. I’m going to put the real names of the capcoms in at some point and have to come up with a way to make it clear to non-enthusiasts that they were at mission control. What’s your tumblr blog? I haven’t seen any activity at all coming from tumblr.
Thanks! It’s http://missionstepstothemoon.tumblr.com (or click my name). I’ve only been at it since spring, and since I tend to write up kinda long items and don’t do much reblogging (disrupts the flow), it’s not the busiest place on Tumblr! That’s fine, I have fun with it and get to be a bit unusual at times.. Got some neat stuff (I think) planned for Apollo 8 next week.
Please grab yourself a copy of my free 2016 Mission Steps To The Moon calendar while you’re there.
Forgot to add that for today’s post, I used some screen caps and stills from EVA 3 from here (with a link back). Hop you like it.
What a unique experience this has been (yes, I jumped ahead for screen caps for my Tumblr blog!). The surprise at the end was the coverage of the return: plasma thru the CM window all the way to COD (real end of mission) and the speeches. I’ll be back for more insights into this flight.
Ben–please visit my Tumblr blog (click name) and send me a note from there. I have a few questions that I’d like to discuss offline (I don’t do Twitter!).
Thanks again to you and Chris for the years of hard work–it certainly was worth it.
Watching Ron Evans’ EVA to the SIM – why does he have the red stripe on his helmet? I thought that was for the CDR when on the moon.
Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for putting in them time to create this! This has been like traveling back in time and reliving an experience which I was born a little too late for! I have to second the comments regarding the raw, unedited, real experience feeling. Real enough to leave you feeling that it indeed is 1972 and those guys are indeed up there right this second.
The user interface is excellent, everything is very well laid out, and the synchronization of photographs at the appropriate elapsed mission times is a great idea and a great complement for the times video is not available. I enjoyed very much being able to follow the EVA’s, and I used Google Earth in Moon-mapping mode to follow the routes the astronauts followed and the various landmarks they pointed out. It was particularly fun after the did the TEI burn and were giving the folks at Mission Control a description of all the landmarks they were seeing.
Another fun thing to do was to adjust the playback position before going to sleep, so the folks of Mission Control woke me up with their music as well at the appropriate time.
I can’t imagine the amount of effort that went to put all this material together, organize it, transcribe all the audio dialogue…I’m simply blown away. Thank you so much again for putting this together.
Is there any chance it will remain online some time even after the mission is “over”? I truly hope so, I want to go back and see more of the footage I missed!
Hi Marcel. Thanks so much. You’ve left your comment just a few minutes before splashdown!
What a great idea to use the wake-ups as an alarm. That’s hilarious.
The site will stay online in perpetuity. There’s still more material that could be made part of the experience if I can source it. I also plan on adding maps similar to what you describe for the sections of the mission with blank video. But first, a xmas vacation! Thanks again.
Dude, this was pure bliss. I will be making 13 solid days of time available to re-listen to every second, every precious moment of static and dead air from this thing. You’ve done humanity a great service. Any chance you could string together the other missions for us?
The other missions would be possible, and theoretically would be easier than this one was. That said, I’ll have to shore up this mission and the coding of the web experience before taking on any others. Thanks for writing, it means a lot to hear from people who are “getting it” to the extent I did when I was making it.
You are awesome and insane.
This is extremely impressive work, and is an absolute joy to listen to. I’m at GET 107 hours, post LOI and a few hours before PDI for the landing. I’ve had it going almost non-stop since discovering it a few days ago. I have to admit that I, too, would love to see the other Apollo missions that involved TLI (8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16); maybe some organization could fund you to make that happen?
About my ONLY criticism is a web technicality… I cannot find a way to “bookmark” and continue where I left off when it freezes or I have to reload my browser; even the address in the URL bar doesn’t seem to change, so there’s no way to interject metadata to specify a time point (such as with a “t=” tag, like Youtube does, for example). The workaround is easy, I just note it in a text file and navigate back to the point.
Thanks for producing this!
It’s great to hear that you’re following along and enjoying the experience. There is a way to jump back to a particular segment: use the share icon and email the current share point to yourself–or just copy the URL generated by the share functionality–this url creates a t= parameter that takes a GET. So t=100:00:00 would jump you to 100 hours into the mission.
I would love if someone wanted to fund my efforts on other missions, but I don’t know where to start in order to make that happen. It’ll have to stay a hobby for now.
LOVE THIS. REALLY REALLY DO! – Why not start a Kickstarter campaign? I would certainly donate.
WOW, this is simply amazing. I only just began to look at this massive, fantastic work a few minutes ago but felt compelled to leave this initial feedback. Thank you so much for making this available! I think this (Apollo) era of the American space program was the last thing that the United States could be proud about.
I am going to spend a lot of time here in the coming days.
Help yourself! I’m glad you’re enjoying it; that’s why I built it!
Great work Ben!
Any thoughts about making this available on DVD or Blu Ray so internet connection isn’t required?
It could be built to be run offline, but it would be many Blu Ray discs in size. Perhaps for a museum installation some day, but for now it will have to stay online.
If you would like DVD videos of the mission footage, you can buy them from http://www.spacecraftfilms.com/
Is just the audio available as a series of .mp3’s? I’d like to just line it up on continual playback in my nerd bunker. Willing to pay of course.
All audio is housed at the Internet Archive in mp3 (among other formats). Here it is in all its raw glory https://archive.org/details/Apollo17/v2
Ben, if I see you on the streets of Toronto, I think I might just buy you a drink.
I love the website. My one suggestion is to make it a little easier to navigate to specific timelines of the mission. Right now it is a bit of a process for me to find the start of the first EVA or the lunar liftoff for example. It would be nice if there was a table of contents or something where I could just click on an event and get straight there. Thank you.
Thanks for taking the time to write, Ian. Maybe I didn’t do a good job making it obvious enough, but you can access exactly what you’re asking for by pressing the “Guided Tour” button. It brings up a list of points of interest. The items in blue are the major events, and the other items are things that I thought were interesting along the way.
Thank you for making this. It’s awesome stuff and layout.
I am just l o v i n g playing with this site: really opened my eyes to the level of detail involved, the checklists, the process.
Wanted to pass on that I would love to see some of the animations NASA made at the time showing some of the maneuvers: perhaps for some of the stage separation sequences, and especially during the lunar module move during the initial lunar orbit injection burn sequence leaving earth orbit.
Thank you for this!
Thank you for the kind words. Can you point me to a YouTube video that contains the animations you’re referring to? I’ll integrate them if they make sense within the context of the mission.
Hey, Ben. Just did a search and this is what I imagined. NASA likely has better source and I bet they’d be happy to provide. At about the 1:13 mark.
I was imagining what they would have shown on newscasts.
immediately after 126:32:21 the response of the crew is missing in the transcription, I know this isn’t the place to report things, but I couldn’t find another place to do it, the site is awesome, you have made a great job with it and I’m enjoying every minute of it
I’m glad you’re enjoying the site. You have found an illusive bug that I have been trying to track down for the better part of a year. If you reload the site and navigate back to the same section, the missing item will be there.
I think your site is awesome. I plan on having an Apollo 17 virtual re-enactment in a few weeks to coincide with the 44th anniversary exactly.
One Question,.. The upper left of the screen says the mission launches on Dec 7 @ 12:32 AM, Other sources say that the time was 12:33 AM. Can you elaborate?
The launch occurred at 12:33 AM. The site displays 12:32 AM when it’s 1 minute to launch 🙂
Fantastic website. Minor suggestion: I’d recommend you put the entire transcript through Word and spell-check it. I’ve only noted one error so far (though it was done repeatedly), “spurrious” instead of spurious. Also, I noted some inaccurate times around the 0:51 minute mark. You might look for similar misalignments.
Thanks for the help. I’ve fixed the two “spurrious” instances. The 0:51 mark contains missing audio which is the cause of the inaccuracies. As this audio becomes available form JSC, it will be added here. Spell checking is out of the question due to the vast amount of technical and abbreviated conversation.
I’m very late finding this. I was idly searching for footage of Apollo missions, having found audio snippets, pondering the idea of patching some bits together for my own enjoyment. Then I stumbled over apollo17.org and I’m blown away! Your execution of this project is magnificent. To take on such a massive project and not only complete it but in such an engaging, easy to digest format is amazing.
Thanks very much. The equivalent site for Apollo 11 is nearing completion. Watch this space.
I literally found your work at the 11th hour, last week. Arrived at the office in the morning on Tuesday and thought, I wonder if anyone has a 50th anniversary replay of the day’s activities I can listen to? Google brought me right to apolloinrealtime.org, and just like that, I tuned in to Apollo 11, about 30 minutes before launch. I really hit the jackpot, didn’t I? I have not done anything else this past week but work, sleep, and relive this mission thru your site. Gene Krantz is correct, your work has brought this to life for me, and all week I felt as if it were a live event. Although I knew I could pause, rewind, replay at any time, I didn’t want to lose that feeling, so I would actually time certain events like my commute, grocery shopping, laundry, etc., to happen during lulls in the action, so I could get them done & get back to listening and watching in real time. Even fell asleep one or two nights with Fido or Retro conversations playing on my tablet. Really impressed with this work, and plan on taking the Apollo 17 ride this week as well! As a lifelong Apollo fan who doesn’t know any other Apollo fans, can’t thank you enough for putting this together. I’m also glad to read your story here, and hear that your hard work has paid off. If you ever get the itch to do another mission, i’m kinda partial to 12, which launched on my 4th birthday & I’d gladly lend a hand! Thanks Ben for all your efforts, I really love it.