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Houston, We've Got a Storage Problem

5:30 PM -- The words "tape" and "data breach" have appeared in the same sentence on an alarming number of occasions over recent years, from the storage snafu at Los Alamos National Lab, to an unfortunate incident involving Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM), and a missing truckload of tapes. (See Los Alamos Fallout Continues, A Tale of Lost Tapes, Time Warner Talks About Lost Tapes, The Personal Side of Tape Loss, and The Year in Insecurity.)

Now, NASA is getting in on the act. The space agency has joined the growing list of organizations unable to keep track of its stuff, somehow managing to misplace 13,000 magnetic tapes containing data from the Apollo space missions. As well as moon buggy performance data, this includes astronauts' biomedical information, and, sadly, footage of the most famous step and (flubbed) line in history.

Unlike the grainy footage of Armstong and Aldrin that appeared on TV screens in 1969 (the result of power constraints at mission control) the tapes offer much sharper, higher definition images, more like the famous still photos taken by the astronauts themselves.

Incredibly, it appears that NASA actually lost track of this data years ago. The tapes were returned from the National Archives outside D.C. to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland sometime in the mid-80s, and then disappeared off the archive map.

"It appears that the tapes did come back here to Goddard," a NASA spokesman told me earlier today, adding that "there's a possibility that some commercial storage facility was utilized and we just lost track of the paperwork."

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