Princeton, New Jersey: 1971-1972. Apollo 15 & 16 Photo Archive with Papers of RCA Astro-Electronics Division Engineer Leo Weinreb, Princeton, New Jersey 1971-1980.
Collection includes approximately 425 Polaroid Photographs from Apollo 15 and 16, plus 7 linear inches of files, manuals, memos and personnel documents for RCA Engineer Leo Weinreb. Archive has been stored in a clean dry environment and is in very good condition.
Much of the following information is derived from the archive and from an RCA website devoted to their role in providing live feed television for numerous Apollo Missions including 15 and 16 in 1971 and 1972.
The RCA Astro Electronics facility in East Windsor, New Jersey was awarded the contract to provide live feed for the lunar surface operations of Apollo missions 15,16, and 17.
The RCA system used a new, more sensitive and durable TV camera tube. The improved image quality was obvious to the public with the RCA camera's better tonal detail in the midrange, and the lack of the blooming that was apparent in the previous missions.
The system was composed of the RCA color television camera (CTV) and the television control unit (TCU). These were connected to the lunar communications relay unit (LCRU) when mounted on the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV).
This RCA camera photographed the Lunar Rover Vehicle (LRV) being deployed. Once the LRV was fully deployed, the RCA camera was mounted there and controlled by commands from the ground to tilt, pan, and zoom in and out.
Leo Weinreb (1922-1996) of Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania was the Director of the Space Camera Program for RCA since 1967 and in charge of the upgraded cameras for Apollo 15, 16 and 17. For the first time in the Apollo program the camera used will be operated, moved and focused entirely from the Houston Space Center. The camera will stay on the moon and document, for the first time, the lift off of the LEM landing craft takeoff from the moon.
NASA developed a variety of cameras for use in space. Proponents of space travel understood not only the scientific value of space photography but the public relations value and freely distributed their images. Official NASA photos used a special Kodak paper with a red NASA stamp and catalog number on each print. This collection of photos apparently was outside the purview of NASA and are truly rare and have never been on the market.
These polaroid photos of Apollo 15 and 16 photography were apparently captured by Weinreb and his team working at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston during the missions. Weinreb was responsible for the operation of the 1.6-million-dollar camera and was on hand to trouble shoot problems.
Based on notes of one envelope containing the Apollo 15 photos, the polaroid photos are "Monitor Pictures taken during mission". Most of the photos are identified in the photo as to mission and which Extravehicular Activity (EVA) was in the image. Many have annotations in pen on the margins. Almost all the Apollo 15 images include annotations on the verso. Apollo 15 astronauts spent 19 hrs. 9 min. on EVA lunar time while Apollo 16 spent just over 20 hours on the lunar surface.
While we find no documentation as to exactly why these photos were taken, we can surmise that Weinreb, and team wanted to document the live feed their RCA cameras produced and likely took these polaroid photos on a regular basis.
While the quality of a polaroid black and white photo of a TV monitor may not be the highest quality, this collection of approximately 425 images are one-of-a-kind artifacts from two moon landings. Many photos are remarkably clear action shots while others show the moon surface. Most appear to show astronauts going about their work of the several EVA missions.
The paper archives range from technical papers and flowcharts related to Weinreb's work to personnel papers. We assume most of the more technical papers would be classified and likely not kept by contractors. Nonetheless, this collection played a role in the Apollo missions. See photos for examples. Item #351