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NASA Releases Restored Apollo 11 Video, But Originals Lost 173

Posted by timothy
from the next-year-comes-the-box-set-of-studio-masters dept.
leetrout writes "I attended a media briefing held by NASA at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. this morning where they released restored video of the Apollo 11 mission. The clips released are about 40% of the total footage to be restored by September by Lowry Digital in Burbank, CA. Wired has all the clips. A couple remarkable comments made during the briefing included the opinion from the original footage search committee that the original slow scan footage (stored as a single track on telemetry tapes) has been lost forever as the tapes were likely recycled by the mid '80s (apparently common NASA practice). Also, that someone from the applied physics laboratory was in Australia converting the slow scan directly to video. This differs from NASA's goal of merely broadcasting the event, at which it was successful. Unfortunately, no one knows where those tapes of approximately two hours of footage are located."
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NASA Releases Restored Apollo 11 Video, But Originals Lost

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  • Tape shortage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PeterM from Berkeley (15510) <petermardahlNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:27PM (#28722185) Journal

    I read somewhere else that NASA had a tape shortage at some point, so they recycled the moon landing tapes to store other data.

    I wonder if advanced data recovery techniques could recover the previously written data well enough to be useful.

    --PM

  • Incredible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigJClark (1226554) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:30PM (#28722245)

    Its incredible to me that NASA wouldn't think far enough ahead to save these tapes for posterity's sake.

    Incredible. One of the defining moments in our history, and they didn't think to hold onto it? The whole goal was to only shoot for live feed?
  • Re:Tape shortage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:34PM (#28722303) Journal
    One has to wonder at the penny-wise/pound-foolish confluence of circumstances that would lead to NASA erasing mission data because they couldn't buy more tapes...
  • by warmgun (669556) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:42PM (#28722441)
    A story [slashdot.org] appeared on /. 3 days ago that they were found. WTF? Thanks for getting our hopes up. :(
  • Re:Incredible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbarr (2233) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:47PM (#28722515) Homepage

    While it does seem incredible today, those were very, very different times.

    People were far more concerned and enamored with "seeing" an event than how they might see it again. Heck, most people didn't even have colored TVs at that time, and because so much was live broadcast, if you wanted to see something like the moon landing, you planned for it.

    Gone are the days of just savoring the moment and keeping the memory alive.

  • by athakur999 (44340) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:53PM (#28722577) Journal

    The conspiracy nuts will say the reflector on the moon just proves there is a man made object on the moon, it doesn't prove it was actually physically placed there by a person. It could have been dropped on the moon by an unmanned rocket, for example.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:58PM (#28722651) Journal
    I'm still wondering what the conspiracy theorists say about the retroreflector experiments that have been conducted daily since Apollo 11.

    "The lasers are bouncing off crystal formations... duh!"

    The laser retroreflector defense will only work if you have proof that there was no retroreflection happening BEFORE Apollo 11. Since you can't prove that, you can't prove that the retroreflection that's happening now is of man-made origin. In short, it's only circumstancial evidence.
  • Re:Tape shortage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BobNET (119675) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:10PM (#28722769)

    If we can send a man to the moon, why can't we store the damn tapes of the event properly?!

  • Re:Incredible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:23PM (#28722941) Journal
    Remember everything that was meticulously preserved from those days were on non-erasable, non-rewritable medium. Magnetic tapes that could be erased and reused were pretty new, and practices for backing important data for posterity, for ever etc were not well thought out. I am sure NASA has meticulously archived and stored the blueprints of Saturn V rockets and wiring diagrams of command modules and such things printed on paper.

    On a related note people restoring and cleaning and analyzing old masters and paintings by students of old masters find they were recycling the canvases. Many layers of paintings, some by great old masters, are washed over and painted again.

    philosophical rant

    Strange, when an object is too close to you in space, it appears bigger than same size object at a distance. But when it is very close to you in time, we don't think it is any big deal. Only later we realize how big whatever that thing was.

    /philosophical rant

  • And worst of all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by qwerty shrdlu (799408) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:37PM (#28723153)
    "If we could send a man to the moon, why can't we send a man to the moon?"
  • Re:Pink Floyd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:54PM (#28723361)

    Are you kidding? Can you imagine how that would be abused? Answer: HILARIOUSLY.

    1)Post Epic Troll.
    2)Let a few responses build up.
    3)Replace Epic Troll with deeply insightful post.
    4)
    5)Profit

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:11PM (#28723609) Homepage

    The BBC "recycled" tapes in the '70s and '80s, losing many episodes of well-known programs forever *coughdrwhoandmanyothers*.

    Much as the BBC should be smacked about with a blunt instrument for wiping, they at least have the defence that these were low-budget productions that were seen as ephemeral in nature at the time and of no obvious use. (Legal agreements meant that they couldn't be retransmitted, and there wasn't a home video market as such).

    NASA spent billions (in *60s money*) getting the first human being to walk on the moon- which would have been an obviously massive historical event even before it happened- yet thanks to some beancounting jobsworths and bureaucrats, rather than being treated as a valuable historical document and archived as they should have been, the high-quality originals have been lost.

    This both defies belief and is all too believable; but that doesn't make it any less of a disgrace.

    After initial jubilation, I was right to be sceptical about that the Sunday Express's accuracy [slashdot.org] (they were the ones who broke the- incorrect- story that the original tapes had been found).

    Anyway, getting this digitally tarted-up version of the existing footage instead is a $50 consolation prize after being incorrectly told that you'd won a million on the lottery. Even if the image quality is good, the reprocessed footage still likely won't look as good as the original slow scan would have, and it certainly won't have the same veracity.

    And that's the most important thing. They lost the damn originals, and regardless of how good the remasters *look*, they're not the damn originals.

    You'll excuse me if I don't feel like breaking out the party poppers at NASA's DVD-age PR fluff hyping the remastering of their crappy fourth-generation footage as a minor success instead of the non-reversal of a massive loss of historical material.

  • Re:Incredible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:45PM (#28724007) Homepage

    people restoring and cleaning and analyzing old masters and paintings by students of old masters find they were recycling the canvases. Many layers of paintings, some by great old masters, are washed over and painted again.

    They probably didn't know they'd be considered *quite* as important as they are today (very high, even if one doesn't consider the obscene millions some paintings sell for as their true "worth".)

    The major historical nature of the moon landings would have been glaringly obvious even before they happened.

    It was The. First. Damn. Man. On. The. Moon.

    I think you're cutting NASA way too much slack- and patronising the people of 40 years ago too much. Old 60s episodes of Doctor Who- bad loss in retrospect, but *almost* understandable in the context of the time (ephemeral, low budget, non-established medium, not reusable).

    First man to ever land on the moon- that's blatantly important by itself. The fact they spent billions of dollars to get there you'd think was an added impetus. 40 years doesn't make *that* much difference to people's judgement.

    Even if the cost of storing the footage was relatively high, it would have been trivial in comparison with what NASA spent on the programme overall. And even more trivial given its priceless historical and non-repeatable nature.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:56AM (#28727353)

    Because only select entities were allowed to keep the copies or display them, the works they considered "so valueable" that they and their siblings being pirated cost the world quadrillions each year, were destroyed because they couldn't be arsed letting go of it.

    THIS is why copyright of 5-10 years IS ENOUGH.

    After 10 years there would still have been people who had copies they'd taken. The originals could be opened up and left for someone else to keep or transfer, rather than be destroyed because storage costs whether you're making money from the work or not.

    After 95 years or life+75 DVDs will be unreadable. VHS would be rusted. People will have cleared their homes out several times.

    10 years.

    Tops.

    If you haven't made your money by then, you suck.

    As for the five years trying to get a publisher, use an NDA. They NEVER expire, so are better than copyrights. They also have higher penalty costs than copyright has against a corporation.

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