NASA officials think they still have them, but aren’t sure where several thousand original recordings of the 1969 Apollo Moon Mission are stored. As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, finding the lost tapes could mean an enhanced replay of the day astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.
There are thousands of reproductions of that moment, like this one.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
But the original recording of Armstrong’s words and hours of tapes from other parts of the Apollo 11 mission are missing, misplaced possibly as long ago as the mid-1970’s, when they were borrowed by the National Records Archive, and then returned to Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Richard Nafzger is an engineer who has worked there since 1968 and will head a new project to find the tapes.
“Where they went at that point is a paperwork tracing. To be honest with you, this is what this project that’s been authorized this morning will allow me to do, to set aside the time and effort and funding to go find them and determine if we have them or don’t have them and where they went.”
Nafzger says if NASA does find the tapes, we could get a better look at what happened on July 20th, 1969.
“If we find those tapes, that slow-scan television is considerably better than what anyone saw and with today’s digital technology we can obviously produce in broadcast quality a much better picture than anyone has ever seen of that historic event and that has always been our goal to provide to the American people the highest quality record of what happened that historic day.”
A total of 2,600 tapes are missing, but only between 10-15 of those tapes contain the historic Apollo 11 footage that NASA is looking for.