NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has released a tantilizing preview of their newly-restored video footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. NASA’s working with restorations specialists Lowry Digital to greatly enhance the quality of the best available broadcast source, bringing it up to never-before-seen quality.
But why must they work from a recording of the broadcast? It’s heartbreaking: NASA accidentally erased the original tapes.
NPR has a great report on just how such a seemingly monumental mistake could be made. After a three-year search for the lost original magnetic tapes from the TV cameras on the moon, NASA concluded that they were accidentally erased during a period when such tapes were being repurposed to record satellite data.
Starting from the original tapes, and not from a signal that had to traverse 200,000-plus miles of space and the Earth’s atmosphere before being recorded probably would have resulted in an even more breathtaking restoration. But the current works are still pretty great.
The material released today is just a teaser–NASA hopes to release a restoration of every minute of Apollo 11 video later this year.
You can download the original files, including some upscaled to HD resolutions, here.
And in another interesting use of the Apollo 11 archival material, the Kennedy National Library has created a site called We Choose the Moon, which is re-enacting the mission via archival photos, videos and radio transmissions in real-time.