This proved a great opportunity to see the hardware first hard, which was far more informative than the analysis of pictures and text descriptions. A great deal of knowledge was captured by such previous missions, and even mission studies. By studying this space heritage we can avoid past design mistakes, reducing the cost and risk.
The National Air and Space Museum is without doubt a mine of information, and is a must-see if you happen to be in the DC area, especially for Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competitors, but also for the general public.
We took the chance to use some modern technology for capturing this space heritage. This new technology developed by Microsoft's Live Labs named PhotoSynth allows recreation of a hybrid 3D model that anyone can view and explore over the internet. We preferred using our cameras to build the 3D models we didn't think the security guards and curators would appreciate us crawling over the hardware with a 3D scanner!
Below are two great examples of what can be achieved. The mouse controls are similar to Google Maps, but PhotoSynth also includes a funky damped motion feature.