Apollo 11 moon landing master tape (lost original SSTV footage; 1969)


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Apollo 11 moon landing (original SSTV footage)
A screenshot from the original SSTV footage.
A screenshot from the original SSTV footage.
Status Lost

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 landing capsule with its crew of two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, touched down on the moon. The footage has become world famous and will be preserved, most likely, for the entire future of human history as one of the most significant achievements of the species. Therefore it is strange, and not generally known by the public, that NASA has lost their original SSTV tapes of the event.

The journey and landing of Apollo 11 were filmed by the astronauts that went on said mission: Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins. For the scientific purpose, the experience was recorded on high-quality 16mm film Super-8 camera, that covered the moonwalk from the window of the lunar module. For live pictures to a general audience, the signal from television camera on the surface was broadcast live back to Earth, along with other mission data via a signal encoding known as SSTV. SSTV allows for an image to be embedded into audio data and transmitted as a radio signal. This SSTV signal was picked up on multiple telescopes on earth, one in Goldstone, California, the other one in Parkes, Australia. Additionally, Australia provided a tracking station in Honeysucle Creek.

At the telescopes facilities, a raw signal with all data telemetry and SSTV images was cloned into two branches: one branch of the signal went straight to a backup tape recorder capable of storing the incoming information at the telescope facility. The other branch immediately proceeded signal and decoded SSTV images that was designated to be shown to the public.

However, as the data coming in from the astronauts' cameras was incompatible with TV image broadcasting standards (namely NTSC), a conversion had to take place. Curiously, this occurred in one of the most primitive ways imaginable; the signal was fed to a high-quality screen, capable of displaying images from the astronauts' cameras. The light emissions from this screen were recorded by a camera, putting out image data compatible with contemporary television sets. The (now TV-friendly) signal was then send from Australia via satellite to Goldstone, California and from there via microwave transmission to the Mission Control Center.

It was then only that an image signal arrived at the Mission Control Center in Houston. Here the signal was distributed further to TV stations. However, the only video from the moon landing broadcast that day was in severely worse quality than what a few technicians could witness at the ground station before any crude conversion took place. In recent years, interest in the original SSTV data recorded at tracking stations Goldstone, Honeysuckle Creek and Parkes has risen. However, after extensive research, no copies of the original image signal, along with mission data, has shown up.

The loss of the Apollo 11 footage has done nothing to quell persistent conspiracy theories claiming that the moon landings were an elaborate hoax and that the footage was filmed in a studio. On subsequent missions of Apollos 12-17 NASA improved quality, and as cameras produced NTSC standard signal, there was no need for conversion. Footage from the subsequent missions have been successfully retained by NASA and as such are available in much higher quality than the Apollo 11 footage. This fact should put to rest any claims that NASA 'conveniently lost' the footage to prevent close analysis of the film, as subsequent landing footage is available for analysis in high quality.

Comments


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Anonymous user #1

17 months ago
Score 1++
I think it was discovered they actually wrote over the tape. Only the smartest minds at NASA.
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Anonymous user #2

17 months ago
Score 3++
"We'll be back soon, we don't need this crap... plus, this tape is REALLY expensive..." -Engineer at NASA, 1969
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Anonymous user #3

16 months ago
Score 1++
Just go back to the moon again
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Anonymous user #4

13 months ago
Score -14++
i wonder the moon landing on tv was just filmed in a hollywood basement
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Anonymous user #5

13 months ago
Score 6++
It wasn't, you idiot
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Anonymous user #7

10 months ago
Score 1++
Hahaha! I can't stop laughing right now!
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Gorillaz27

9 months ago
Score 2++
Hollywood basement? Ha!
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TigerMan1995

1 months ago
Score 0++
It would've been impossible to pull off with the lighting
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Anonymous user #6

11 months ago
Score 7++
you idiots! the moon landing was filmed on mars!
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RelevantRose

3 months ago
Score 2++
Exactly! They hired Kubrick himself to direct it
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Anonymous user #6

11 months ago
Score 0++
you are all idiots! the moon landing was filmed on mars!
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Anonymous user #6

11 months ago
Score -1++
crap posted twice
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Anonymous user #8

8 months ago
Score 0++

"Filmed in a Hollywood basement"

And Alderaan's not very far, it's californiacation.
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Sethenstien

6 months ago
Score 0++
i found a promotional vinyl record from Phillips called scenes from the moon that says it was recorded from the original tapes on it. Its not the video, but it is high quality audio of the landing and conference afterwards. I'll post the audio next week if anyone wants it.
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Anonymous user #9

6 months ago
Score 0++
that would be really cool... I know good quality audio does exist and I'd love to hear it... the truth is "good" 2" video tape used to be VERY expensive... thus lots of old shows were "lost"... many of the original doctor who episodes no longer exist... and since this was captured at a facility in Australia, I can imagine good quality tape was at a real premium... hard to imagine that in our world of unlimited digital storage ;)
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Gorillaz27

6 months ago
Score 3++
You're implying that the moon landing was faked? Again? Jeez, this is the LMW, not the Conspiracy Theories Wiki.
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Anonymous user #10

6 months ago
Score -6++
Moon landing was staged.
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Sf95

6 months ago
Score 1++
This is not the place for spreading conspiracy theories
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Toolkitz

2 months ago
Score 1++
Thank you LMW for giving me the ability to block out commenters based on their IP. Now I can ignore such ignorance with a peace of mind.
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Anonymous user #11

4 months ago
Score 0++
Video is private now.
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Anonymous user #12

2 months ago
Score 0++
How in God’s name could NASA loose the footage of one of the most important moments in human history.
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