NASA Loses Track of Original Moon Landing Tapes

NASA officials are searching for the original videotapes from the first moon landing in 1969 in the hopes that they can use modern technology to produce sharper images of the event.

The video, including footage of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon, was transmitted from the moon to tracking stations in California and Australia.

The images that were then sent to Houston — and seen by the rest of the world — were substantially degraded.

Space program veterans believe the original tracking station recordings are stored somewhere at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Telephone calls Monday night to NASA and Goddard spokesmen were not immediately returned.

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"I would simply like to clarify that the tapes are not lost as such, which implies they were badly handled, misplaced and are now gone forever. That is not the case," John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia, told the Web site.

Sarkissian also rejected any suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"The archiving of the tapes was simply a lower priority during the Apollo era," he said.

In a paper published in May, Sarkissian wrote that the use of digital processing techniques on the tapes would make it "possible to recover the original high quality TV of the first lunar EVA [extravehicular activity] and make it available to the public for the first time."

"The Apollo 11 mission represents a defining moment in human history," Sarkissian wrote. "For the sake of posterity and the benefit of future generations, it is imperative that the search for the Apollo 11 magnetic data tapes be more vigorously pursued."