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Decades of NASA photos, video coming to the Web

With the space shuttle Endeavour safely back on the ground, the space agency is working on showing the world its photo album in partnership with the Internet Archive.

With the space shuttleEndeavour safely back on the ground, NASA is working on showing the world its photo album.

The space agency and the Internet Archive said Tuesday that they plan to scan and archive more than 12 million NASA photographs and 100,000 hours of film and video footage for free access online, under an five-year agreement. As part of the deal, the Internet Archive will host the media album on a new Web site,

The two organizations didn't say when the site will officially launch, but the project will presumably be well underway and public before NASA's 50th anniversary next year. (The anniversary of space flight is next month.) They did say that the archive will feature more than 50 years of NASA history, including audio files, computer animations and images on experimental rocketry dating from as early as 1915. Archiving all of that might take a while.

The project is novel because it will finally give people a central outlet for viewing stellar photos and videos from NASA. That the space agency chose the Internet Archive as its partner is also remarkable, given that NASA has been working with Google in various capacities for more than a year. NASA has teamed with the search giant to develop Google Mars, for example.

After all, the Internet Archive, a site that offers access to digitized books and other media, has roughly the same mission as Google: making "all human knowledge" available digitally.

NASA representative David Steitz said that the project was no small endeavor, one best suited to the Internet Archive.

"This important public service, bringing online and making available probably the most important scientific imagery collection in the world, is a task we feel is most appropriately managed by the people of Internet Archive," Steitz said in a statement.

Due to incorrect information given to CNET, this article inaccurately identified the terms of the deal. It is a nonexclusive agreement.