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Johannes Kemppanen/Issa Tseng/Robin Wheeler, writers
David Charney, interface designer
Chris Bennett, design director
Ben Feist, interactive creative director/interactive technical director/project design and development/client
Jeremy Cooper, programmer
Bill Barry, database programmer
Ernie Wright, visual effects artist
Greg Wiseman, music
Stephen Slater , producer
Dan Rooney, agency producer
Ben Feist/Johannes Kemppanen/Robin Wheeler, researchers
Noah Petro, scientific consultant

Launch Site

“I was impressed by the work that went into creating this experience that now serves as a great historical resource for all to appreciate.” —Jill Toloza

“Incredibly impressive in the sheer amount of attention that went into the details to create a truly immersive experience for the viewer.” —Aruna Mall

Overview: The most complete collection of Apollo mission data ever assembled online, Apollo in Real Time is an interactive representation consisting entirely of historical material from three Apollo missions—Apollo 11, Apollo 13 and Apollo 17—as they occurred. Launched in April 2020 for the mission’s 50th anniversary, Apollo 13 in Real Time includes never-before-heard mission control audio discovered in the National Archives that was digitized and restored for this project. By using the power of the internet, Apollo in Real Time provides the world with direct access to the detailed reality of the Apollo missions through a truly multimedia experience.

  • The three missions currently online include 727 hours of video, 20,000 hours of audio, 6,200 photos and 63,900 searchable utterances.

  • Since the audio was made publicly available for the first time via this project, a forum encourages visitors to share moments of interest they have discovered in the content.

  • Without any marketing campaigns, traffic to the site spread purely by word of mouth, garnering more than two million unique visitors since Apollo 17 in Real Time’s launch in 2016.

Comments by Ben Feist:
How did the use of historical content inform the project’s creation? “During development, our mantra was to ‘get out of the way’ of the material. Rather than taking the usual approach of weaving a story from raw material, we removed all narrative and just let history speak for itself—possibly for the first time. Books and films contain the point of view of the author or filmmaker, and, as such, they include some amount of bias. This project endeavors to remove all bias.”

What is the thinking behind the navigational structure? “We had to create an interface where visitors could navigate through hundreds of hours of parallel content easily and intuitively. For a solution that didn’t require instruction, we had to break many user experience best practices for something new. A graphical navigational scheme that reacts to mouse movements shows the entire mission from countdown to recovery. Plus, two levels of zoom magnify and activate the current mission time. This keeps the mission representation down to less than one second per pixel.”

What software, back-end technology and programming languages were used? “Apollo in Real Time is written in vanilla JavaScript with no back end. This has a large advantage of making the hosting challenge entirely about delivering data to a visitor’s browser rather than server-side processing of data. The nature of Apollo in Real Time creates an unusual shape to the hosting of web traffic. During a mission’s anniversary, all visitors follow the mission in real time. This means that during Apollo 11, for example, a million visitors all needed the same image at exactly the same time. To address this, we partnered with KeyCDN for primary content delivery and to withstand the onslaught. YouTube provides the mission video stream, greatly reducing the bandwidth burden on our volunteer project’s hosting costs.”

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