The Missing Moonwalks

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the dual anniversaries of the Viking I landing on Mars and the first humans (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) to walk on the moon. Well, NPR has video footage of Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s lunar jaunts. The only problem is that they’re pretty shoddy copies. So NPR is looking looking for the original footage.

LandingAlmost everyone on the planet who had access to television watched the first moon landing, back on the night of July 20, 1969. What the TV viewers didn’t know is that they weren’t seeing the best images.

The astronauts actually beamed higher-quality footage back to Earth, but it was only seen by a small number of people at three tracking stations.

Those original images were recorded and put into storage — somewhere. Now, a small crew of retirees, space enthusiasts, and NASA employees are searching for a moon landing that the world has never seen.

The NPR piece goes on to describe how the images most Americans saw on their televisions sets back in 1969 were so degraded — compared to what the folks in Houston’s mission-control saw — and incompatible with television broadcasts that they had to be converted to the right format. Afterwards, the original footage was recorded onto 14-inch reels, which disappeared into the National Records Center in Maryland before NASA brought them to Goddard for "permanent retention." They haven’t been seen since.

The folks from the Apollo team would like very much to see the footage again. Actually, so would I. For the first time, of course.


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