NASA Is Stumped in Search For Videos of 1969 Moonwalk





As Neil Armstrong prepared to take his "one small step" onto the moon in July 1969, a specially hardened video camera tucked into the lander's door clicked on to capture that first human contact with the lunar surface. The ghostly images of the astronaut's boot touching the soil record what may be the most iconic moment in NASA history, and a major milestone for mankind.

Millions of television viewers around the world saw those fuzzy, moving images and were amazed, even mesmerized. What they didn't know was that the Apollo 11 camera had actually sent back video far crisper and more dramatic -- spectacular images that, remarkably, only a handful of people have ever seen.

NASA engineers who did view them knew what the public was missing, but the relatively poor picture quality of the broadcast images never became an issue because the landing was such a triumph. The original, high-quality lunar tapes were soon stored and forgotten.

Only in recent years was the agency reminded of what it once had -- clean and crisp first-man-on-the-moon video images that could be especially valuable now that NASA is planning a return trip.

About 36 years after the tapes went into storage, NASA was suddenly eager to have them. There was just one problem: The tapes were nowhere to be found.


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