The original video of the historic moonwalk is probably lost forever, but to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first humans to reach the lunar surface, NASA and a Hollywood film company have culled a backup tape, CBS archival footage and NASA kinescopes to release a newly restored version of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's romp on the moon.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the July 20, 1969,
walk on the moon, NASA July 16 released newly restored video of mankind's first
excursion to the lunar surface. The initial release, part of an Apollo 11
moonwalk restoration project and posted on NASA's Website
, features 15 key
moments from the trip.
"The restoration is ongoing and may produce even better video,"
Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement. "The restoration project is scheduled
to be completed in September and will provide the public, future historians and
the National Archives with the highest quality video of this historic
That's good, since apparently the original video is lost to history.
The black-and-white images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descending and
walking on the moon were provided by a single small video camera aboard the
lunar module. The camera used a nonstandard scan format that commercial
television could not broadcast, so NASA used a scan converter to optically and
electronically adapt these images to a standard U.S. broadcast TV signal.
The tracking stations converted the signals and transmitted them using
microwave links, Intelsat communications satellites and AT&T analog
landlines to Mission Control in Houston.
NASA engineers recorded the data beamed to Earth from the lunar module onto 1-inch
telemetry tapes. The tapes were recorded as a backup if the live transmission
failed or if the Apollo Project needed the data later. Each tape contained 14
tracks of data, including bio-medical, voice and other information; one channel
was reserved for video.
No one has seen those telemetry tapes for years, and NASA has conceded they
are probably lost forever, most likely written over years ago.
For the restoration project, a team of Apollo-era engineers who helped
produce the 1969 live broadcast of the moonwalk acquired broadcast-format video
from a variety of sources. These included a copy of the tape recorded at NASA's
video switching center; original broadcast tapes from the CBS News archive
recorded via direct microwave and landline feeds from NASA's Johnson
in Houston; and kinescopes found in
film vaults at the Johnson Space
The restoration was done by Lowry Digital, of Burbank,
Calif., which specializes in restoring
aging Hollywood films and video. Lowry took the highest-quality
video available from the recordings, selected the best for digitization and
significantly enhanced the video using the company's proprietary software
technology and other restoration techniques.
Under the initial effort, Lowry restored 15 scenes representing the most
significant moments of the 3.5 hours that Armstrong and Aldrin spent on the