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NASA admits to losing moon landing tapes

Ian Harvey

On July 16th, 1969 former President Lyndon Johnson, First-Lady Bird Johnson, and then Vice-President Spiro Agnew watched the launch of Apollo 11 at the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex in Florida. Apollo 11 was the first manned mission that landed on the moon. It was launched 40 years ago and carried U.S astronaut Neil Armstrong, Mission Commander and the first man to take steps on the moon. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin had been the Lunar Module Pilot. Micheal Collins was also on the team as the Command Module pilot.

The original recordings of the first landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used. Yet the restored copies of the original broadcast are looking even better, as stated by NASA officials.

NASA has released the first glimpse of the complete digital makeover of the original landing footage. It helped clarify the grainy and blurry images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking around on the surface of the moon.

Apollo 11 moonwalk unconverted slow-scan television image, before conversion to NTSC.
Apollo 11 moonwalk unconverted slow-scan television image, before conversion to NTSC.

The full set of recordings is being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital. It was released in September.

NASA admitted that in 2006 nobody was able to locate the original video recordings of the July 20th,1969, landing. Since then, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, Rich Nafzger, has overseen the television processing at the ground tracking sites during the mission of Apollo 11. He is also looking for the missing tapes.

Thankfully, he was able to find out where they went. But, unfortunately, a part of a batch of 200,000 tapes was degaussed, meaning they were magnetically erased and re-used to save money.

Nazfger told a news conference that their purpose was for live TV. He also stated that they should have had a historian present to demand that the recordings be saved rather than reused.

They found the good copies in the archives of CBS News. Some of the recordings, called kinescopes, were found in film vaults at the Johnson Space Center.

Lowry is best known for restoring old Hollywood films and has been digitizing these NASA films to have a new rendering of the original landing.

Nafzger has no worries about using a Hollywood-based company, although conspiracy theorists believe the whole lunar program that landed people on the moon between 1969 and 1972 was faked on a movie set or secret military base. He stated that this company is restoring a historic video – it doesn’t matter to him where the company was from. Lowry Digital Chief operating officer Mike Inchalik added that the conspiracy theorists are going to believe what they want to.

Photo of the high-quality SSTV image before the scan conversion
Photo of the high-quality SSTV image before the scan conversion

There may have been some unofficial copies of the original broadcast out there that were taken from a NASA video switch center in Sydney, Australia. This was stated by the space agency, and Nafzger also stated that someone else in Sydney has made recordings. These tapes aren’t in the system, but researchers are certainly open to locating them.

There is a NASA image that shows Apollo 11 U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing on the Moon next to the Lunar Module “Eagle” on July 20th, 1969. Neil Armstrong took the picture.

A NASA remote camera filed an image on July 16th, 1969 of the launching of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon. The astronauts launched from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex in Florida.

Another picture that was taken is of Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard the Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage. This was taken from the Command and Service Module in lunar orbit.

A NASA file image dated July 20th, 1969 demonstrates one of the first footprints of astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on the moon. Another NASA file image shows U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong standing next to the Lunar Module “Eagle” on the moon on July 20th, 1969.

One of the very happy images from the flight shows controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. This was at the Mission Operations Control Room located inside the Johnson Space Center on July 24th, 1969. On May 1st, 1969 another image shows Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins walking around on the moon.

Here is another NASA story from us:NASA’s “chief sniffer” smells everything, this has included bibles, family photos

Several outstanding photos were taken during the mission of Apollo 11, probably one of our greatest accomplishments – “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as said by Neil Armstrong.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News