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  Apollo 11 original telemetry tapes are missing

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Author Topic:   Apollo 11 original telemetry tapes are missing
Naraht
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posted 07-14-2006 03:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A sad story, but perhaps the publicity on Slashdot will jog someone's memory.
On July 21st 1969, Honeysuckle Creek observatory brought us the first TV pictures of men on the moon. The original signals were recorded on high quality slow-scan TV (SSTV) tapes. What was released to the TV networks was reduced to lower quality commercial TV standards. Unfortunately John Sarkissian of Parkes Observatory Australia reports that 698 of the 700 boxes of original tapes have gone missing from the U.S. National Archives. Even more worryingly, the last place on earth which can actually read these tapes is scheduled to close in October this year. The PDF contains interesting comparisons which show that if all you've seen are the TV pictures from the landing, you really haven't seen the first moon walk in its full glory.
If they lost track of these, it makes me wonder what other things have been lost/never saved/never transferred into more modern methods of data storage. The flight directors' loop for Apollo 11 was lost for a while too, it seems.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-15-2006 07:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE (via Space.com): Sleuths search for missing Apollo tapes
Wood hasn't been happy of late with some reports saying that they are looking for "missing Apollo videotapes" -- as well as tabloid claims that NASA had somehow bungled a task.

"That's the furthest thing from the truth," Wood told SPACE.com. "There are no lost Apollo video tapes," he emphasized.

Dwight
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posted 08-15-2006 07:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The good news is that there have been some new bits of info which are helping to bring postive results. For the sake of astounding video quality, I hope the tapes are located soon. The worst case scenario is that the tapes were recycled for other material.

My hope is that they are residing in a dark corner of the storage facility, and are just waiting for their rediscovery.

spacecraft films
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posted 08-15-2006 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The TV on the other missions was handled in a different way. 11 was the only one with slow-scan TV on the surface.

To be clear, these are telemetry tapes, not videotapes, and the slow-scan TV could be extracted from the telemetry tapes and since this would be prior to processing would be better than existing material. It would still have to be converted to regular television, but can be done without the issues that diminished the picture in July 1969.

Specifically the trail ends when they were transferred from NARA back to NASA Goddard in 1984.

spaceuk
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posted 08-15-2006 07:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This search for the Apollo 11 film is quite a big news media story at the moment and is being carried by most news wires and most large newspapers.

Do a search on Google News to find the stories.

nasamad
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posted 08-15-2006 08:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A former employee of Honeysuckle Creek made a DVD of his original footage. The clips I saw were much better than I had ever seen before.

Scroll to bottom of this website's menu for DVDs.

Space Cadet Carl
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posted 08-15-2006 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the DVD footage is better, but they say it's from a Super 8 movie camera film that was pointed at the 10" slow scan monitor. If the original slow scan data tapes were found, you would see a huge difference.

Space Cadet Carl
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posted 08-15-2006 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow... every media service in the world is publishing their stories regarding the "lost" Apollo 11 SSTV raw data tapes.

Mark Gray (Spacecraft Films), if you're reading this... you have to be both elated and a little frustrated at the same time to see the nearly tabloid style attention this story is suddenly receiving!

And wouldn't it be incredibly cool if we DO actually locate those tapes? That would be huge.

tegwilym
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posted 08-15-2006 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With all the hype about the tapes, maybe they will be found soon!

Dwight
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posted 08-15-2006 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The search was kept low key until the main avenues had proven fruitless. In an attempt to hopefully reach some NASA ex-employees who may have insight into the last known placement of the tapes, the story was made more public.

Unfortunately an unwanted by-product is that the moon-hoax crowd are crying foul despite the fact that all video is currenty available, albeit in 1969 scan converted quality. Curiously they believe the tapes will reveal HDTV quality when the camera was limited to 320 lines of resolution.

What the tapes will provide is a pre-scan converted image that is without satellite, kinescope and optical conversion noise.

Using this story to validate the hoax, is like arguing the Beatles were a fraud because the multi-tracks for "Revolver" went missing, despite the fact that a 1/4" mixdown master still exists.

spacecraft films
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posted 08-15-2006 02:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In answer to the above, I'm mostly frustrated at the inaccurate turn most of these stories have taken, and I know NASA HQ and public affairs isn't too thrilled with it either.

I hope this doesn't come off as a rant, but here you are.

If it weren't for Stan and Bill and some others who thought about the fact that the slow-scan TV might be retrieved from the telemetry tapes nobody would have thought anything of the Apollo 11 video. As it is they've been after these particular tapes now for several years, and THAT is the real story. These guys have been working and working to try and improve the record, and all the media can get out of it is to take the low road and try and make NASA look stupid. I'll always be baffled by a media that thinks the government should run everything and then rejoices in reporting government's shortcomings, all without checking any facts.

The facts remain that no videotapes are missing... that while the slow-scan video which could be retrived from the telemetry tapes would be of better quality than the converted footage now available, one still couldn't characterize it as "high-quality" video. The resolution limitations will still be there.

Yet because of the sensationalism that has become rampant through the media - and not just the tabloids, but all media - stories are all over the place this week about how "NASA has lost the Apollo 11 videotapes." Rubbish.

This kind of journalistic garbage doesn't do anything to get us back to the moon any sooner, that's for sure.

Personally I've tried to help the searchers wherever I can, though with their knowledge of the original systems and how the telemetry was stored that help has been miniscule. The only way I could really help was try to point out things I had seen or heard about at the archives, etc.

I hope they haven't been recycled, can be found, and can yield a clearer view of the Apollo 11 EVA. The Apollo 11 EVA material is some of the more frustrating that I've come across. But once again - whatever happens the real story here is the guys who have been working to make this happen. Good show. Let's hope the end result is positive.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-15-2006 10:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has now posted news of this story to their website:
Update: Apollo 11 Tapes

NASA personnel continue to sift through 37-year-old records in their attempt to locate the magnetic tapes that recorded the original Apollo 11 video in 1969. The original tapes may be at the Goddard Space Flight Center, which requested their return from the National Archives in the 1970s, or at another location within the NASA archiving system. Despite the challenges of the search, NASA does not consider the tapes to be lost.

sts107fan
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posted 08-21-2006 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts107fan   Click Here to Email sts107fan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I may have missed this... did NASA say which film of the Apollo 11 landing is missing, that is, is it one they've shown publicly before or not?

Dwight
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posted 08-21-2006 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is the telemetry tapes which are unable to be located. The TV downlink kinescopes are all intact, and there is nothing on the missing tapes which hasn't been seen before. The downlink material is available from Spacecraft Films.

The telemetry tapes contain the raw data as recorded at the tracking stations and each tape has 15 minutes running time.

Naraht
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From: Oxford, UK
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posted 08-21-2006 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dwight:
The TV downlink kinescopes are all intact, and there is nothing on the missing tapes which hasn't been seen before.
Except that the missing tapes are of a much higher quality.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-24-2006 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE (via Space.com): Search for Apollo tapes now in high gear
In responding to a SPACE.com query, Perkins said that part of the detective work is a physical search of any facility thought to have been used to store Apollo tapes, including the National Records Center, buildings at Goddard, or any storage facility that contractors may have used back then, or since.

"We are even pulling old phone books from the 1970's and 1980's so we can contact as many people as possible who worked in records management, or for the manned spaceflight program, to see if they have any information that might be valuable to our search," Perkins said. "We've received hundreds of calls and e-mails from people who think they may have important clues, and we're following up on all reasonable inputs," she added.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-03-2006 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE (via Space.com): Apollo TV tapes: the search continues
Vintage Apollo space missions tapes uncovered at a university in Western Australia are not what a team of experts are trying to locate.

"These aren't the tapes we're looking for," said John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's (CSIRO) Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia.

dom
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posted 01-11-2007 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More on the continuing search for the Apollo 11 moonwalk NASA tapes.

Reminds me of the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark! Will they ever be found?

Dwayne Day
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posted 01-31-2007 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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.

spacecraft films
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posted 01-31-2007 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They may be lost forever. I am hopeful that someday they'll turn up when least expected, that whoever finds them realizes their importance, that there's some way to read them or the tapes haven't degraded too badly to recover the data.

But this Washington Post article is by far the most accurate description I've seen as to the nature of the tapes and the participants in the search. Nicely done on this story (finally!).

Dwight
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posted 02-05-2007 07:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The best place to see for yourself the difference in quality from SSTV, scan-converted Australian feed example video, scan converted TV example kinescope, and scan converted TV USA (world) feed example kinescope is this website.

Colin (the webmaster there) is part of the team doing the search, and has uncovered many a useful bit of information regarding TV footage of Apollo 11. (The most intriguing was Ed von Renouard's 8mm home movie footage off the SSTV monitor at Honesuckle Creek tracking station).

Richard Easton
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posted 06-28-2009 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Easton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's hard to know if this is a genuine story or a hoax.
The Sunday Express can now reveal that the missing tapes containing the original high quality images have been found.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-28-2009 12:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This story is incorrect nor is it the first time that the claim of the "lost tapes" being found has been made.

On Twitter, Bob Jacobs, NASA's Associate Administrator for Public Affairs, is cautioning those who link to the article:

There is a search that is winding down. We hope to release an update publicly in the next few weeks. The UK report is fiction.
Suffice to say, if and when NASA is ready to make any such announcement, it will be touted here for all to read...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-17-2009 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For further updates on the fate of NASA's "lost" slow-scan TV tapes -- and NASA's effort to restore the best quality broadcast recordings -- see:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-04-2009 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has released the final report documenting the search for the Apollo 11 telemetry tapes.
Although a search for the VR-660C recordings at the National Archives and the WNRC has yielded nothing, Nafzger, Wood, Lebar, and other members of the Goddard search team are hopeful that APL will one day find them in their holdings. If APL finds the recordings, NASA will be ready: it is maintaining its capability to playback and view one- and two-inch tapes if they are ever found.

ScotCar
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posted 12-13-2009 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ScotCar   Click Here to Email ScotCar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The original ABC film footage of the recovery operation, taken on board USS Hornet, is also missing. ABC held an exclusive contract to collect that data, and did so by simultaneously recording onto two 2" magnetic reels - from the time President Nixon's helicopter arrived, through the arrival of the astronauts, the welcoming ceremony in the hangar bay (remember Nixon interviewing the astronauts through the window of their MQF?), and the retrieval of the CM. ABC's Keith W. McBee couriered one set of reels back to Hawaii for processing/dissemination, and left the other in the care of Hornet's XO, CDR Chris W. Lamb. ABC chopped its original footage up during editing, and then misplaced or destroyed it. Lamb kept the other original. Lamb died earlier this year. The ABC reels are now retained by Lamb's children. The 'loss' of this footage to the public is obviously not as great as the loss of the NASA footage of Armstrong/Aldrin on the moon, but a loss nevertheless.

Go4Launch
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posted 12-13-2009 07:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm a little confused by the above post; ABC did serve as video pool producer aboard the Hornet, but that coverage was relayed live via satellite to New York for distribution to NBC and CBS for their live broadcasts.

If you are referring to actual film footage, I would think NBC and CBS would have been quite upset that the government signed a film contract with ABC and excluded them. I guess it's possible ABC gathered film for the pool as well -- but then ABC would have given the other nets prints before editing...

In any event, magnetic tape wouldn't have required "processing in Hawaii."

Dwight
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posted 12-19-2009 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Acording to the Western Union press release they were responsible for the TV signal from the Hornet using a portable uplink placed on gyro stabilizers on the ship to counter the rocking on the ocean.

They uplinked from the ship to Intelsat III F4, 22,300 miles above the Pacific. The signal from Intelsat could then be received by earth stations in Hawaii, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and at Jamesburg, California. From Jamesburg, the signal was sent on via land line to New York where it was than distributed to the major TV networks, to the Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston, and to Etam, West Viginia where it was beamed to another commercial satellite, Intelsat III F-5, over the Atlantic for reception by earth stations in Panama, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Goonhilly Downs, England. From Goonhilly Downs it was sent to European TV networks via the landlines of the European Broadcast Union.

All times are CT (US)

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