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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Donald D. Viele Lunar Orbiter Collection

Identifier: 2017-11-06
The Donald Viele Lunar Orbiter Collection contains two hundred and sixty-nine (269) photographs and numerous documents primarily relating to the construction, launch, and mission of the five Lunar Orbiters. Some of the materials relate to the Viking Program and the Minuteman Missile launch, but the bulk of the collection relates to the Lunar Orbiter. The collection spans from 1950-2016.

Series I, Lunar Orbiter, features photographs transmitted to Earth from the Lunar Orbiter, technical documents about the Orbiter’s construction, the NASA request for proposals for the Agena Class Lunar Orbiter Project, and a DVD featuring the 2016 reunion of the crew who worked on the program. Photographs are primarily in black-and-white and include images of the moon taken by the Lunar Orbiter, as well as images of the build and equipment used. These photographs range in size from 4x6" to 21x41". Posters are also included in the series. These posters primarily feature enlarged moon scenes. They also include promotions for the Lunar Orbiter Missions and project history information.

Series II, Viking Satellite, contains the official Landing System and Project Integration technical proposal.

Series III, Minuteman Missile, includes meeting documents and photographs of the instrumentation used in developing the missiles.

Series IV, General, includes items relating to Viele's career at Boeing that could not be attributed to one specific program. This includes a record produced by National Geographic magazine titled “Sounds of the Space Age,” employment forms for Viele, and a set of illustrations featuring Air Force planes. The bulk of the series consists of research files and publications organized chronologically, featuring articles originally published in National Geographic, as well as symposium papers by academic institutions such as the American Geophysical Union and the Langley Research Center, and technical reports by NASA, Boeing, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the American Astronautical Society. This also includes Donald Viele's articles for Scientific American.


  • 1950-2016
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1970


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


5.5 Cubic Feet (6 full-width legal-sized boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 folder of extra oversized items, and 1 rolled oversize item. )


Donald Viele was a Systems Engingeer with Boeing who worked with NASA on the Lunar Orbiter Program (1964-1967). This collection contains documents and photographs collected and authored by Viele during his time on the Lunar Orbiter team.

There is also some documentation relating to Viele's work with the Minuteman Missile program.

Biographical Note: Donald D. Viele

Donald Viele held a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder, and was a Systems Engineer for Boeing from 1952-1984. He worked on the B-52 instrumentation as the lead engineer, and went on to work on the proposal team for the Minuteman project. He worked on the Lunar Orbiter team from 1962-1967. During the First Lunar Orbiter mission launch, he was in Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to troubleshoot the photography aspect of the mission. After working on the Lunar Orbiter project, he worked on the proposal for the Viking project for one year before going back to the Minuteman project in 1968. He retired from Boeing 1984. Prior to working at Boeing, Viele had worked at the Williams Manufacturing Co. in Chicago, Illinois. designing pinball games. In 1952, during the Korean War, Viele noticed an employment ad for the B-52 program with Boeing, which is how he got his start with the company.


Biography derived from collection materials and donor.
Historical Note: Lunar Orbiters From 1966-1967 NASA launched five unmanned Lunar Orbiters to take photographs of and map the moon, in preparation for the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in 1969. The Lunar Orbiter was the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit the moon and obtained over 200 photos of the moon’s surface. In 1964 Boeing was contracted to build the Lunar Orbiters at their Seattle, Washington missile facility. The five Lunar Orbiters were able to photograph and transmit images that showed 99% of the moon’s surface.


"Historical Snapshot." Boeing: Philip M. Condit. Accessed September 19, 2018.

"The Lunar Orbiter Program." Explore Space Science Activities. Accessed September 05, 2018.
Historical Note: Minuteman Missile In 1958 Boeing began working on one of its largest and longest projects. The Minuteman Missiles were designed for defense during the Cold War. These intercontinental ballistic missiles were housed at sites throughout the Great Plains and set to launch at a moment's notice. The first successful tests of the Minuteman system was conducted in 1961. Minuteman II, the missile referenced in this collection, was launched in 1964. The Minuteman project concluded in 1978, though Boeing has continued to contract with the U.S. Air Force.


"Historical Snapshot." Boeing: Philip M. Condit. Accessed September 19, 2018.

"The Minuteman Missile (U.S. National Park Service)." National Parks Service. Accessed September 12, 2018.

Note on Arrangement

Arranged in four series:
  • 1. Lunar Orbiter, 1961-2016.
  • 2. Viking Satellite, 1959-1975.
  • 3. Minuteman Missile, 1959-1979.
  • 4. General, 1950-1984.
Materials within each series are organized in chronological order.

Records within each file have been maintained in their original order whenever possible. Oversize items have been removed from their original folders and grouped together in box 7 and flat file 15-5.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Related Materials at the Museum of Flight

Boeing Film Collection (1987-03-26.B) Collection of films donated by Boeing on Apollo and SST. Contains film relating to Lunar Orbiter.

William Murphy Boeing Aircraft Photograph Collection (1993-12-18.A) One hundred twenty-two (122) Boeing photos, including Lunar Orbiter mock-ups.

Robert Moreland Minuteman Missile Photograph Collection (1997-04-25) Prints relating to Minuteman Missile

Boeing/NASA Moon Base Research Collection (2001-04-06) Drawings and news releases pertaining to Boeing/NASA's lunar exploration efforts.

Lunar Orbiter Documentation (2006-03-06.B) Documents related to the Lunar Orbiter.

Francis Earl McDevitt Minuteman Missile Photograph Collection (2013-02-05) Black-and-white photographs relating to the Minuteman Missile project

Boeing Photograph Albums and Scrapbooks (2018-00-00.98) Boeing Album of Photos from Lunar Orbiter 1 taken August 18-29, 1966 processed by Langley Research Center

Separated Materials

Numerous newsletters, periodicals, and books were sent to the Library. For the full list of publications sent to Library, contact the repository.

The following materials were separated from the archival component and are kept in Objects Storage:
  • Model of Minuteman II
  • Strain gauge
  • Badge
  • ring of numbered tags
Guide to the Donald D. Viele Lunar Orbiter Collection
Completed - Level 3
H. Kolesar
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
2nd Edition

Revision Statements

  • 2021 March: Added press kits found with library materials

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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