The Space Age in high def

By Phil Plait | May 8, 2008 10:30 am

Last year I wrote about how some Apollo footage had been remastered in high definition. Now we’ve got even more: Discovery Channel has remastered more than 100 hours of footage from the early space age into high definition!

But what’s cooler than that is that this footage has been given to NASA and will be available for free from their archives!


It’ll come out in June in conjunction with a series on Discovery called "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions", a show I will no doubt be watching. The link above to MSNBC has a few minutes of the footage, though currently it’s not streamed in HD. Still, it’s purty.

This is very exciting. I remember very little of the early space age, except for the Apollo missions (I was 6 when I went to Florida with my family to see Apollo 15 launch), so this will be a fantastic way to live through it all.

Tip o’ the visor to Yishai Mendelsohn for sending me the link.


Comments (19)

  1. madge

    Amazing. Makes it look all fresh and new again. I will DEFINITELY be watching this when it airs. Thanks for the heads up Phil : )

  2. I’ve always wanted to see a live launch. Haven’t managed one yet, though. I’ll check it out when it airs on Discovery — thanks, as always, for the heads up!

  3. Jonathan

    The video preview in the second link was absolutely awesome. I can’t wait to see this. If only I had an HDTV, it’ll still be awesome in standard definition, oh well :(

  4. Jeff G.

    It’s all a conspiracy to remove the telltale signs of shooting the footage in the New Mexico desert. ūüėČ

  5. Jeff G9Y

    >so this will be a fantastic way to live through it all.

    Not as fantastic as it was to live through it then… ūüėČ
    Even it if it looks better now.

    I agree with my namesake above… it’ll just feed the morons!
    SEE!!!! It KNEW it was all faked! They did it again! – That crowd… sigh

    It was great to grow up in a time when it was cool to be into rockets (Estes and Centuri), play with Chemistry sets…, have a digicomp (look it up), and use a 60mm f/15 refractor in a driveway in the winter with temps in around -3C. Saturn in Taurus in the winter… it was cool… but I digress… alot

  6. Only 6 when you saw Apollo 15? Just a babe in the woods. :-)

    While I never saw an Apollo launch in-person (though I was 8 when I watched Apollo 11 on TV), I did see a shuttle launch (STS-26, the first post-Challenger mission) in-person.

    Wow… 100 hours of high-def video. I’m sure glad I have broadband! Now, all I need is one of those 1TB drives they have in stores.

  7. sirjonsnow

    I would have liked it if they hadn’t replaced Neil Armstrong with Hayden Christensen

  8. Cello Man

    Cool! Now Richard Hoagland will be able to spot invisible crystal temples on the Moon with razor sharp clarity!

    Or not.

  9. Jeff G9Y:

    It was great to grow up in a time when it was cool to be into rockets (Estes and Centuri), play with Chemistry sets…, have a digicomp (look it up)

    I never did finish my Saturn-V Estes model, but I certainly built plenty of others, including the ubiquitous badminton shuttlecock.

    As for the Digi-Comp, I had one, too. They go for well over $100 each on eBay nowadays. Of course, how many computers can you fix today with a plastic straw and some scissors?

  10. This sounds like the perfect opportunity to Photoshop those missing stars into the footage from the lunar surface. . .


  11. Matt

    Ummm.. Exactly how much improvement is possible?? In the real world, as opposed to CSI-land, very little extra information can be infered from an original image. Filters and the like may soften rough edges, but that is somewhat superficial.

  12. Michael Lonergan

    Oh goodie!!! Now I should really be able to see all the neato stuff Richard Hoagland has been trying to show me for years. It’s funny, I never could quite see what he was pointing at… :)

  13. I remember after Apollo 8 getting a call at 2:30 a.m. to got to the lab and see the footage as it came off the printer/processor. The little room was packed with those who were or would become the key players and flight crews in lunar exploration. What an exultation! But I was just a working stiff who wrote and directed the lunar mission films done in Houston (and later the only one). And now they’ve HD’d and we were able to further bury the shots that provex we shot in in the New Mexico desert.

    It used to bother me when people could “prove we shot it on Earth.” But, after a certain # of years on this planet, you learn to shrug it off. They will never be convinced. Neither will the anti-evolutionists. So I do my job in what NASA does, keep collecting evidence that make a rational case and not worry about religious or anti-religious philosophies. It might make us feel warm and fuzzy in our fury, but it doesn’t really accomplish much.

    In the early space program, we can say we accomplished something big.

  14. Is Rob Godwin (Apogee Books) behind this one, too? I couldn’t find his name anywhere on that MSNBC page.

    – Jack

  15. Don:
    Nice to meet you! (So to speak…)
    I just -HAD- to Google you and came up with this:
    You’ve had a fun career!

    This Discovery Channel program will have to be on my short list of Blu-Ray discs to get to feed to my new Sony 40″ 1080p screen.

    I’ll be in Houston week after next shooting Hi-def for GlaxoSmithKline, where is the best BBQ?
    Rich in Charlottesville

  16. Buzz Parsec

    Matt –

    Most of the original Apollo footage was film, not video, but most us have only ever seen it as NTSC scans. “Remastering”, to me, means going back to the originals (film, which is much higher resolution than TV) and re-digitizing it. That in itself will greatly improve the images. As for the live TV from the moon, I remember it as being extremely snowy and with way too much contrast, and digital techniques can improve that a lot!

  17. csrster

    My parents woke us all up in the middle of the night to see the first moonwalk. We sat up in their bed and watched the grainy images on a crummy old B&W TV. I’m 44 now and it’s still one of the highlights of my life so far :-)

  18. Bo Babbyo

    . . . Most of the original Apollo footage was film, not video, but most us have only ever seen it as NTSC scans. . . .

    Exactly — and most of it was/is very high quality 35mm film. Maybe even some 70mm. NASA didn’t kid around capturing all those images for posterity. It will look very VERY good, I’m sure. I’m especially looking forward to the super-slow motion Saturn V launch sequences.

  19. Richard: It’s been a good life. Back working at NASA (United Space Alliance) after 20 years in business for myself – not all it’s cracked up to be. Most of the Hollywood types feel about space guys the way many just plain folks think of stars.

    BTW I graduated from U.Va. back in ’57. Met my future ex-wife there.

    Best BBQ in Houston = The Goode Company. Not like Virginia bbq – better. There are several of them, but the best is the original.

    I’ll be at the Banjo Blast (Tucson) next week. Jazz, not country, doing a little playing and mainly emceeing.


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