For Your Eyes Only
The Missing Moon Tapes
And Other NASA "Stories"

From Project Horizon...

5. Degree of Urgency.

To be second to the Soviet Union in establishing an outpost on the moon would be disastrous to our nation's prestige and in turn to our democratic philosophy. Although it is contrary to United States policy, the Soviet Union in establishing the first permanent base, may claim the moon or critical areas thereof for its own. Then a subsequent attempt to establish an outpost by the United States might be considered and propagandised as a hostile act. The Soviet Union in propaganda broadcasts has announced the 50th anniversary of the present government (1967) will be celebrated by Soviet citizens on the moon. The National Space policy intelligence estimate is that the Soviets could land on the moon by 1968.

Note: This is part of the justification for the Apollo Mission...

Lunar and Planetary Rovers
The Wheels of Apollo and the Quest for Mars
Anthony H. Young

In the midst of Project Gemini in 1965, Dr. Wernher von Braun, the first Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), arranged an impromptu meeting with some of the astronauts. Most of them had yet to fly into space. The astronauts were among the third group selected by NASA in October of 1963 for Gemini and the upcoming Apollo program. One of the astronauts sitting across from Dr. von Braun was Capt. Eugene Cernan, who was training for his upcoming Gemini IX flight the following year. It was just an informal meeting, but von Braun knew some of the men he was looking at would one day walk on the Moon. The famous rocket scientist had even bigger plans for the astronauts who would eventually realize the long-held dream of traveling to and landing on the Moon. It was at this meeting that the astronauts learned what Dr. von Braun really had in mind.

BBC Apollo 11 Missing Tapes
Sir Patrick Moore

Moore has undertaken significant research in astronomy. It was revealed in a TV programme that when the Russians wanted accurate information on the Moon over a number of years, they first went to America then other countries for the information but could not turn it up. Then someone suggested Patrick Moore and on going to his house and asking him, they were invited in. Moore left them and returned with a pile of exercise books with all the necessary information in, his records of observations over many years which is how in 1959, the Soviet Union used his charts of the moon to correlate their first pictures of the far side with his mapped features on the near side and he was involved in the lunar mapping used by the NASA Apollo space missions. In 1965, he was appointed Director of the newly-constructed Armagh Planetarium, a post he held until 1968. During the Apollo programme, he was one of the presenters of BBC television's coverage of the moon landing missions. The tapes of these broadcasts no longer exist: conflicting stories have circulated as to what precisely happened to them, or whether the broadcasts were recorded at all.


Tale of the TV Tapes:
Apollo 11 Mission Archive Mystery Unspools
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 13 August 2006 09:44 am ET


The highest-quality television signal from Apollo 11's touchdown zone in the moon's Sea of Tranquility--from an antenna mounted atop the Eagle lunar lander--was recorded on telemetry tapes at three tracking stations on Earth: Goldstone in California and Honeysuckle Creek and Parkes in Australia.

Scads of the tapes were produced--and now a search is on to locate them. And if recovered and given a 21st century digital makeover, they could yield a far sharper view of that momentous day, compared to what was broadcast around the globe.

But Apollo 11 is a memory rewind--now over 37 years old. Nobody is quite sure just how much longer the original slow-scan tapes will last ... that is, if they haven't already been erased.

Handled and archived

"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," explained John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's (CSIRO) Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia.

Original Article

'One small step for man,' 700-box tape loss for NASA

Original recordings of Apollo moon missions are missing

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Posted: 12:38 p.m. EDT (16:38 GMT)

Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the moon and his speech was among the 20th century's defining moments.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," a NASA spokesman said on Monday.

Armstrong's famous space walk, seen by millions of viewers on July 20, 1969, is among transmissions that NASA has failed to turn up in a year of searching, spokesman Grey Hautaloma said.

"We haven't seen them for quite a while. We've been looking for over a year and they haven't turned up," Hautaloma said.

The tapes also contain data about the health of the astronauts and the condition of the spacecraft. In all, some 700 boxes of transmissions from the Apollo lunar missions are missing, he said. 

"I wouldn't say we're worried -- we've got all the data. Everything on the tapes we have in one form or another," Hautaloma said.

NASA has retained copies of the television broadcasts and offers several clips on its Web site.

But those images are of lower quality than the originals stored on the missing magnetic tapes.

Because NASA's equipment was not compatible with TV technology of the day, the original transmissions had to be displayed on a monitor and re-shot by a TV camera for broadcast.

Hautaloma said it is possible the tapes will be unplayable even if they are found, because they have degraded significantly over the years -- a problem common to magnetic tape and other types of recordable media.

The material was held by the National Archives but returned to NASA sometime in the late 1970s, he said.

"We're looking for paperwork to see where they last were," he said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Original Article CNN News:

The Saga Of the Lost Space Tapes
NASA Is Stumped in Search For Videos of 1969 Moonwalk

By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 31, 2007; Page C01

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.

What started as an informal search became an official hunt through archives, record centers and storage rooms throughout NASA facilities. Many months later, disappointed officials now report that the trail they followed has gone cold. Although the search continues, they acknowledge that the videos may be lost forever.

Determined sleuths Richard Nafzger and Stanley Lebar once thought they were close to finding the lost Apollo tapes.
Photo Credit: By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post
Related Article: The Saga Of the Lost Space Tapes, page C01

"When we sent our camera up on the mission, everything about it was a first and a big unknown," said Richard Nafzger, an engineer with NASA who was involved in the original transmission of the Apollo 11 images to Earth and is now part of the search to find them. "Would the camera work? Would we get TV of that first step? We just didn't know what to expect.

"In the same way, we're doing a kind of massive tape and document search that's never been done before," Nafzger said in a recent interview. "We might discover the tapes tomorrow, or we might reach a point where we have to say we can't go any further. Right now, I would have to tell you their fate is pretty much a mystery."

Stanley Lebar, who had been in charge of developing the lunar camera, is also involved in the search. He can recite all the understandable reasons why he and his colleagues did not give the tapes the attention they deserved back in 1969 -- they were cumbersome, a highly specialized format that appeared to have limited value in the pre-digital age -- but he nonetheless is kicking himself now for not getting a copy for safekeeping.

"We all understood the importance of this event to history, to posterity, and so we all should have made sure those tapes were safe and secure," said Lebar, 81. "I ask myself today, 'Why the heck didn't you think that way back then?' The answer is that I just assumed that NASA was going to do it. But, unfortunately, that was a bad assumption."

The tale of the missing Apollo 11 tapes is made all the more awkward because televised images of subsequent Apollo missions were greatly improved. It was only for Apollo 11 that an unusually configured video feed was used. It was transmitted from the moon to ground sites in Australia and the Mojave Desert in California, where technicians reformatted the video for broadcast and transmitted long-distance over analog lines to Houston. A lot of video quality was lost during that process, turning clear, bright images into gray blobs and oddly moving shapes -- what Lebar now calls a "bastardized" version of the actual footage.

The original video from the moon was in an unconventional "slow-scan" format, made necessary because almost all of the broadcast spectrum was needed to send flight data to Earth. The format scanned only 30 percent of the normal frames per second, and it was done at a much lower than normal radio frequency.

The images would probably have remained forgotten and of little consequence to Lebar, Nafzger and NASA but for the initiative of a retired California ground station engineer and several Australian technicians who meet regularly for reunions.

In 2002, one of the men who had worked at Australia's Honeysuckle Creek ground station in 1969 -- and who had seen the high-quality Apollo 11 video originals back then -- found a 14-inch reel of tape in his garage that seemed to be from that period. He brought it to a Honeysuckle Creek reunion and passed it around.

At the next year's reunion, several more Honeysuckle veterans brought in mementos from the Apollo era, and this time they included actual moonwalk photos they had taken as the video played on their special monitors. The photos were of the original images -- not the ones reformatted for television -- and they were clearly much better than what everyone else had seen. An American engineer had similar pictures taken at the Mojave site.

The Australians were eager to learn whether the tape was of the actual Apollo 11 moonwalk, but they had no way to play the ungainly reels. Convinced that the tapes could have historical and educational value, they tracked down Nafzger, 66 -- one of the few Apollo 11-era people still working at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, where most Apollo data had been processed.

The good luck continued when Nafzger found that the soon-to-be-mothballed Data Evaluation Lab at Goddard still had one of the few seven-foot-tall analog machines that could play the Apollo video. The Australians sent him the tapes and he put them into the recorder with great anticipation. But what came out was just chatter and computer data from an earlier Apollo mission.

The Missing Tapes

It was disappointing, but the seed had been planted: Not only was NASA reminded of the original moonwalk tapes, but the agency had a machine that could play them. It also had two men -- Nafzger and Lebar -- who still lived relatively close to Goddard and were willing to spend hours of their own time looking for the three hours of video.

They spent weeks searching in the vast National Records Center in Suitland, where the tapes once were housed. They came up empty until finding documentation that some 26,000 boxes of Apollo tapes were requested by Goddard officials between the early 1970s and the early 1980s. Considering that the 45 videotapes from Apollo 11 would have been stored in just nine of those boxes, the odds against finding them were clearly daunting. Nonetheless, Nafzger and Lebar were optimistic.

Back at Goddard, however, they found no trace of the missing tapes, nor of anyone who knew much about them. Clearly someone at Goddard had forwarded the Apollo tapes to other storage, dispersed them to other NASA centers or had them destroyed, but Nafzger and Lebar have had little luck identifying who that might be. The fact that all this happened about 30 years ago made the task more difficult, since some of the most likely decision makers are deceased.

The missing tapes are now something of an embarrassment to NASA, which last August put Goddard's deputy director, Dolly Perkins, in charge of the search. She is overseeing the hunt for the tapes and, perhaps more important right now, for memos and directives that might yield clues to their fate.

"As far as we know, all the tapes were handled properly from a mission perspective," she said. "Typically, when we record at a ground site, we don't preserve data tapes. The scientific investigators will get what they need and then erase. But here there is some indication that we didn't destroy the tapes but stored them for some period of time."

But as Perkins well understands, there is a difference between the "mission perspective" and the historical and social value of these particular tapes. The missing videos could help excite a new generation about exploring space, and they offer significant commercial possibilities as well.

"Maybe somebody didn't have the wisdom to realize that the original tapes might be valuable sometime in the future," she said. "Certainly, we can look back now and wonder why we didn't have better foresight about this."


The Apollo Vault

At the National Archives, 13,000 reels of data are nowhere to be found - Apollo Hoaxists take note 


SOURCE: Popular Science

Honeysuckle Creek
Honeysuckle Creek
Credit: ACT Library and Information Services, Australia

Fridge-sized tape recorder could crack lunar mysteries
By Nic MacBean

Posted Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:00pm AEDT
Updated Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:08pm AEDT

Audio: Restored tape recorder could hold lost moon data (The World Today)
Map: Perth 6000

A 1960s tape recorder the size of a household fridge could be the key to unlocking valuable information from NASA's Apollo missions to the moon.

An archiving error by NASA has meant 173 data tapes have sat in Perth for almost 40 years, holding information about lunar dust that could be vital in expanding science's understanding of the moon.

But after almost four decades, a donation from a Sydney computer society looks set to breathe fresh life into a long-neglected field of lunar science.

The Apollo 11, 12 and 14 missions of the late 1960s carried "dust detectors" that were invented by Perth physicist Brian O'Brien. This information was beamed back to earth and recorded onto tapes.

Dr O'Brien had access to the tapes at Sydney University, but the couple of papers on moon dust he published with the preliminary findings failed to spark as much interest from the scientific community as he was hoping for.

"These were the only active measurements of moon dust made during the Apollo missions, and no-one thought it was important," he said.

"But it's now realised that dust, to quote Harrison Schmitt, who was the last astronaut to leave the moon, is the number one environmental problem on the moon."

Dr O'Brien's work on lunar dust took a back seat when he started working for Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority, and when NASA lost their copies of the tapes it meant the information was basically laying fallow.

"NASA, in the words of their website, misplaced the tapes before they were archived," Dr O'Brien said.

The revelation of the loss only came two years ago. Dr O'Brien says there is no indication as to when exactly the tapes were lost, but he guesses that it was "way, way back".

When Dr O'Brien learnt of the tape loss, he was contacted by Guy Holmes from data recovery company SpectrumData, who offered to try and get hold of the information.

Mr Holmes has kept the tapes in a climate-controlled room since then, and it was only when he stumbled upon a 1960s IBM729 Mark 5 tape drive at the Australian Computer Museum Society that his company had the ability to unlock the information.

The computer enthusiasts who run the Sydney-based group agreed to lend the almost archaic-looking recorder, which is in need of tender love and care, to Mr Holmes.

Mr Holmes jokes that a 1970s Toyota Corolla fan belt could be used to get the recorder up and running.

"The drives are extremely rare, we don't know of any others that are still operating," he said.

"It's going to have to be a custom job to get it working again. It's certainly not simple, there's a lot of circuitry in there, it's old, it's not as clean as it should be and there's a lot of work to do."

Mr Holmes is hopeful of getting the tape recorder working again in January, and then he says it should only take a week to extract information that has been locked away since the early 1970s.


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