NASA releases partially restored Apollo 11 footage

By Phil Plait | July 16, 2009 10:24 am

Today, NASA released a sneak preview of restored video from Apollo 11! The footage is digitally cleaned from archival tapes, and is part of an ongoing project (due to finish in September) to get all the video processed and restored for release.

The footage was obtained using archival tapes found at the National Archives as well as CBS archives. The tapes were scanned and cleaned using state-of-the-art digital techniques, and clearly show visible improvement. Many of the noisy artifacts from the archived tapes have been removed, and the new footage shows details not previously available.

I have uploaded a montage of the Apollo 11 footage to YouTube (the higher-def version can be seen at this link):

Let me be clear here: this video is not from any "lost" tapes! There were rumors that NASA had found tapes that were lost years ago, and these showed the Apollo 11 footage in unprecedented detail. These rumors are false.

The deal is that the telemetery from Apollo was downlinked from the Moon to two radio telescopes in Australia and one in the U.S. The data were recorded on tapes and then processed. The tapes themselves were stored for some time, but after the data were secured it was deemed that the original tapes were no longer needed. They were wiped and reused for LANDSAT and Shuttle telemetry — we’re talking hundreds of thousands of tapes here, so reusing them saved NASA a lot of money. That decision may seem silly now, but at the time was deemed necessary.

So no lost tapes were found, and no previously unseen footage has been found. What we’re seeing here is broadcast footage that has been digitally restored.

Still, there is value to this. For example, in the last few seconds of the montage you can see (I think) Aldrin moving across the lunar surface as he and Armstrong plant the flag. As he skips by, you can see the lunar regolith (the finely ground dust on the surface) scudding up from his boot. On Earth, that dust would billow up in the air, and travel perhaps a few centimeters. In the footage you can clearly see the dust moves on a ballistic path, barely arcing at all and moving a meter or two. Clearly this was filmed in an airless, low-gravity environment. Incredible!

It’ll be a few more months before all the video is cleaned up and released. I can’t wait to sit and watch the whole thing! Today marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Saturn V rocket that carried the first humans to the Moon, and this is a very fitting way of celebrating that pivotal moment in history.


Comments (189)

  1. JHGRedekop

    That’s great to see. I love the dust effect.

    I don’t remember the landing myself, but my parent told me that, at the time, I insisted that my crib be moved over by the window because I wanted to be able to look out and see the astronauts on the Moon.

    Either I was very disappointed, or my eyesight’s gotten a lot worse since then.

  2. Hey there Phil – just wondering:

    Now that we have extreme HD capability in small handheld devices, are we going to be able to get amazing imax footage from the moon next time we go over there? Also, what applications do you think it’ll have? I’d love to sit and watch a Planet Earth type show about the moon.

    -Alex Perry

  3. Virgil

    You mention the dust, and how it acts in an ” airless” environment , hmmm, then why is the flag blowing in the wind? there would be no wind in an airless environment !

  4. Virgil, why do you say the flag is blowing in the wind? Have you never seen something move with no wind? Try holding a belt out at arm’s length and swinging your arm back and forth. The belt will flap just like the flag did, and it’s clearly not due to air resistance. It’s simple inertia.

  5. Stu

    Taping over DR WHO – bad. Taping over your wedding video – very bad. Taping over the first Moon landing? Priceless… Seriously, who was in charge of storing and preserving those tapes? Homer Simpson? Would it have been so hard to slap a sticker on the boxes with “Do Not Erase: First Human Being To Walk On Another World… EVER – Rather Important” written on it? The restored footage is great, v impressed, but please, I beg you, don’t let NASA keep the originals once the restoration work is completer; someone will just tape “Lost” or “America’s Got Talent” over them…

  6. Darrin

    It’s a shame that on the anniversary of something so amazing, the idiots and loonies have already started to come out in force.
    Truly amazing to see that footage in good quality. Words alone can’t describe how incredible an achievement the moon landings were.

  7. This is way better than NASA’s previous Real Player media files. Real Player?>????!!!! Seriously.

  8. One reporter at the press conference asked something like “if the tapes were lost, why didn’t you just refilm them on the soundstage?” The panel looked confused, and she responded “that was supposed to be a joke”

  9. Just twittered this, but thought it’s an interesting question to comment about.

    Your article mentions: “The tapes themselves were stored for some time, but after the data were secured it was deemed that the original tapes were no longer needed. They were wiped and reused for LANDSAT and Shuttle telemetry”

    The NASA press release on the Apollo 11 restoration only mentions: A three-year search for these original telemetry tapes was unsuccessful. A final report on the investigation is expected to be completed in the near future and will be publicly released at that time.

    Where did you hear/read that the tapes were wiped?

  10. Virgil

    with no air, thus no wind, the flag would simply hang limp, you can see it is more than inertia, the flag is clearly being blown by wind, a wind that would not exist on the moon.

  11. Virgil, you are completely wrong. Did you actually try what I said with a belt? It doesn’t take air to move a flag. Your statement that it is “clearly being blown by the wind” is a judgment you that is in error. It’s not only not clear, it’s wrong. Try doing some research on this before making such flat statements.

  12. Darrin

    Why are you even bothering, Virgil? This nonsense has already been debunked a million times over, it’s not even worth our time to explain it to you yet again.

  13. Virgil

    sure the belt would move if you moved your arm, but it would still hang downward, the flag is erect, that wouldn’t happen even with inertia, it would still hang, and sway with your movements, it is being blown by wind, plain and simple, probably a nice warm Arizonian evening wind. Face it, it was all a hoax and still fooling most people.

  14. @Virgil,

    You have to be kidding.

    Otherwise, reading comprehension FAIL.
    Understanding of basic physics FAIL.


  15. During the NASA TV live coverage of the tape restoration from the “Newseum” a reporter asked “why didn’t you simply used the set from the original videos” making everyone’s jaw drop. Then she added blatantly about 10s later “oh… it’s a joke”.

  16. Virgil

    Darrin, the likes of you need not try explaining a single thing to me.

  17. Or maybe the fact that it’s hanging downward from a horizontal bar?

  18. Bill Roberts

    Virgil, the flag had a metal rod through the top holding it away from the pole. This kind of crap is cultural vandalism, pure and simple.

    Let’s take Virgil on the next manned trip to the moon so that he can see for himself. . . then leave his dumb @#$ up there.

  19. JHGRedekop

    Virgil, the flag doesn’t hang limp because it has a rigid metal rod going across the top to hold it up. You can see the rod quite clearly in this photo — it’s stitched into the top edge of the flag.

  20. This video came just in time for the world wide celebration!

    I’m going to add it to the presentation!

    Could someone point Virgil to the Mythbuster’s Moon Hoax Debunking episode on Youtube?

    I have the link for the Spanish-speaking version, not the English one.

  21. Virgil, could you confirm something I’ve wondered for a while? It seems like you folks who believe the moon landing was hoaxed, are using Google Alerts to search for terms like “Apollo 11”, then pounce on comment threads for blogs and forums and post one of your various cut-and-paste objections. Is that the case? Or are you genuinely someone new to this conversation who has never asked or seen the answer to the “why does the flag move” question?

  22. Face it Virgil… you don’t have a clue of basic physics.

  23. Darrin

    I’m sorry you fail at basic physics comprehension, Virgil. I’d be irate, too, if I didn’t know what every middle school kid knows.

  24. Aru

    @Bill Roberts – would you really want him to be in a position to make first contact?

  25. iMaxx

    If there was a strong wind moving the flag, that same strong wind would be moving the dust on the ground. But it isn’t.

    And if this is filmed on a sound-stage, as Virgil is obviously suggesting, why would they have fans blowing? To keep the ‘actors’ cool? They’re in suit for crying out loud.

    But Paul is right, these ‘hoaxes’ have been debunked many times over. The deniers will keep denying…for whatever reason.

  26. @Vigil, do you realize what the strength on the wind would have to be to make the flag flap like that? Wouldn’t that also moves all the dust on the ground? Why would NASA turn on fans in a set where there’s not supposed to be any air?

    the only thing that’s left to be said is: STUPID … IT BURNS

  27. Virgil,

    Here’s a great site explaining why you’re maybe just a bit misinformed.

    Long story short, they used wires woven into the fabric of the flag so it wouldn’t hang limp. The flag wiggled as it was being erected. It’s really quite simple.

    You really need to take off your aluminum foil helmet, and stop drinking the crazy juice, friend.


  28. Jason Wilson

    Virgil… were you given a directive to latch on to my hope for humanity and strangle it?

    Here is the full breakdown for you. If you find any scientific reason to dispute please let me know.

    1. Why is the flag erect if there is no wind? NASA knew there was no wind on the moon, in order for the flag to display properly they inserted a metal rod along the top edge to hold it out. You’ll notice the bottom of the flag flutters while the top is fairly rigid.

    2. Why does any part of the flag flutter without wind? The flag moves for the same reason your belt did. There was energy imparted in it during the act of planting it. Without an atmosphere on the moon there is little to nothing to actually act on that energy and inertia allows it to continue to flutter with little to no energy loss.

  29. Brandon


    I believe the top of the flag was attached to a rod of some sort and the rest was left to hang. So that supports Phil’s assertion of basic physics.

    Edit: Jason beat me to it.

  30. Virgil, in addition to what Phil has said to you, you should also remember that they were standing the flag in an airless environment. if you see the flag flapping after the astronauts let go of it, it is swinging periodically just like a pendulum. the pendulum will continue to swing until it has used all of the energy put into it by the astronaut who was adjusting it. if there were air, the flag would stop moving much sooner because it would need to expend more of its energy to overcome air resistance and continue moving. try Phil’s experiment, swing your belt, and see how quickly it will stop, then step inside a vacuum and try it again.

  31. Virgil, are you even looking at the same video as everyone else? The flag isn’t flapping.

  32. @Bill Roberts wouldn’t help, as Phil pointed out in one of his LRO/LCROSS posts, he’d accuse you of drugging him!

  33. The Other Ian

    Virgil, if you’re really interested in Phil’s take on the flag waving, read here:

  34. Brownian

    No, Virgil’s right. That flag is clearly blowing in the wind. Further, if you look down and to the left, you can see the shadow made by a second shooter. And why is that tower falling straight down? Can anyone say ‘controlled demolition’?

    Watch out for these guys, Virgil. They’ll send black helicopters after you before you can say “Illumimasonnewworldorder”.

    As for me, it’s back to suppressing the cure for cancer as a shill for Big Pharma.

  35. Tim James

    wait, but i thought moon landing hoax belivers thought that it was all filmed on a stage…. so the stage would have to be inside a studio building right? becuase they have to make the room mostly dark so there fake sun spotlight would work… right? so why would there be wind inside the studio? it dosnt make sense at all!

    also, if there was enoug wind to blow the flag, there must be enough to kick up all the dust on you nice fake moon surface…. I know im just a layman, and ive never read any of the text debunking the flag bit before… but, just a little bit of common sence is all you need right?

  36. Alex

    I wouldn’t mind Virgil. He’s a troll. Doesn’t even believe his own bs.

    These videos are fantastic. I missed the landing on account of not being born yet (I know, silly excuse) so I’m loving all the coverage all over the net. I can’t wait, really really can’t wait, for us to have a research station up there. It’s way past time we started settling the frontier!

  37. Great reproductions! I am a Florida Native and lived close to it all in the 60s. Watched every launch. After 40 years don’t you think we should be taking our family vacations on a Moon Vacation Spot by Hilton by now?

  38. Virgil

    face it yourself, don’t try and tell me what I do or do not have a clue about, since you don’t know me. watch the flag. of course your all forgetting the fact that if that landing attempt had actually occurred , no one, or even the capsule could have survived. reentry to our own atmosphere is difficult enough . I bet you all flock to star trek conventions as well

  39. “The flag is erect”… ah, I see, we have someone who hasn’t done even the simplest and quickest checking of any facts at all, but who can make profound statements about vast conspiracies.

    Hey Virgil, I’ll do a little work for you: try reading this page that has, y’know, facts about the flag. Maybe that’ll help you understand why your statement above is completely wrong.

  40. Ken Morrison

    As Bill says..metal rod supported the flag, and NASA vacuum chamber proved the inertia statement on Mythbusters

  41. Ah, I posted that comment before I saw Virgil’s above it. Virgil, read my commenting policy.

  42. Darrin

    Phil, is it possible to perma-ban someone? Because that’d be real handy right aboot now.

  43. rob

    at about 1:16 into the video (about the same spot as the still shot of the imbedded video above) you can clearly see hitler, just left of center, standing at a podium, wearing as s.s. officer hat! Phil will probably say it is a stalin mildew stain or something. it must have been faked, if hitler was there on the soundstage too!

    (yeah, yeah. hitler died decades earlier. maybe it is elvis?)


  44. Joe Daft

    They didn’t land on the moon. I mean, c’mon, everyone knows the moon is made of cheese. Look at the video – there’s dust and stuff all over, not cheese. Therefore, Virgil is totally right, it’s wind and it was filmed in arizona.

  45. Jason Wilson

    “your all forgetting the fact that if that landing attempt had actually occurred , no one, or even the capsule could have survived.”

    Please, explain. That is all I ask, explain with the same courtesy I have given you, how I am mistaken.

  46. Jen C

    Wow Virgil, just wow. If ignorance was a disability you’d get a full pension. Can you not even read what anyone is trying to tell you?

  47. I tell you, I love it when some conspiracy doofus with a sixth grade education tries to explain how inertia works to an actual scientist – especially an astronomer. That’s just a special kind of stupid right there.

    Thanks for the article, Phil, I remember watching Armstrong on my folks’ crappy little B&W TV set in 1969 as he jumped down off the LEM. Despite all of the amazing things that have happened to me since, it is still one of the defining moments of my life. I’m looking forward to seeing the restored video.

  48. Jason Wilson

    “Work on the lunar flag assembly began about three months prior to the Apollo 11 mission. Robert Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) (footnote 8) and a member of the Committee on Symbolic Activities, asked Jack Kinzler, Chief of Technical Services Division at MSC, for ideas regarding the EVA. Kinzler suggested that a full-size U.S. flag could be deployed using a specially designed flagpole. He drew up a preliminary sketch (Fig. 2) and the idea was presented to the committee. Working with Deputy Division Chief Dave McCraw, he worked out the details of the lunar flag assembly over several days. The design was based on a number of engineering constraints. For example, to compensate for the lack of an atmosphere on the lunar surface, the flag assembly included a horizontal crossbar to give the illusion of a flag flying in the breeze. (footnote 9)”

    Little did they know how convincing the illusion would be.

  49. @ Jason Wilson,

    Isn’t it obvious? The LEM would have burnt up in the LUNAR ATMOSPHERE!

    Jeeze! How stupid can you people be? Honestly, I really am shocked at you so-called SCIENTISTS!!!


    Stupid over.

    Now back to laughing at Virgil.

    Ha ha ha.

    Laughing over.

    Back to work.


  50. His Shadow

    Believe that thereis a secret and you become an initiate. It costs nothing. -Umberto Eco (sp?)

  51. Virgil

    put simply, it would have burned up. whatever , you folks have fun with your debate, or celebration. Wow!! I just saw MJ in my peanut butter sandwich!!!!

  52. Ray

    Virgil needs to watch the Mythbusters episode where they thoroughly and completely debunked the flag waving issue.

  53. IVAN3MAN

    @ Virgil,

    Dude, without air drag, those movements caused the free corner of the flag to swing like a pendulum for some time. A horizontal rod, visible in many photographs, extended from the top of the flagpole to hold the flag out for proper display. The flag’s rippled appearance was from folding during storage, and it could be mistaken for motion in a still photograph. Below is an animation of two photos that show the flag is not waving:

    Animation of two photos, showing that the flag is not waving.

  54. Just had to pop in and say:
    Humans, with feet on something other than Earth. How cool is that?
    How soon ’till we go back? From the looks of things, I’ll still be around when we do! I was only 3 years old for Apollo 11, it’ll be nice to understand what I’m seeing this time around.

  55. Oh Jason Wilson, you know as well as i do that what we have been told about the air in front of an object becoming heated, as opposed to the object itself, is just another lie being spoon fed to us by the intelligentsia who actually control everything. in fact, did you know that the twin towers are actually still standing and are just being hidden behind mirrors because the people who actually rule the world are using them as a starting point for building a “ladder to the moon?” not really a ladder, per se, more of a long tube that can accelerate a human being to unimaginable speeds without exerting any gravitational forces on them, hidden through stealth light bending technology, so they can build the items we supposedly “left” on the moon after the pretend visit there so when humans finally walk on it again they can show, once and for all, that man actually walked on the moon in 1969 (and a bunch of other times, never understood why no one calls them hoaxes) even though we have never actually been there.

  56. John

    So, I just read that in Cuban schools, history classes teach, without question, that the moon landing was a hoax.

    It’s pretty sad that entire generations of children are being indoctrinated with this nonsense from such a young age, and that one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments is being denigrated for purely political reasons.

  57. @Virgil “put simply, it would have burned up” … and would have caught on fire because … ?! I thought smoking was prohibited on all flights by 1969?!

  58. Stephen Mackenzie

    Fantastic! But why has it been cropped down to 16:9? Let’s see it in its full old school 4:3 glory…

  59. Jason Wilson

    “put simply, it would have burned up. whatever , you folks have fun with your debate, or celebration. Wow!! I just saw MJ in my peanut butter sandwich!!!!

    Not good enough, Virg. You are not citing facts, you are citing problems that would have faced the engineers, problems that they would have known about before hand. There are materials with heat resistance. If I heat my oven to 900 degrees (self-clean) it will burn up everything inside… but the stove is fine? There are ceramic materials that will survive the temperatures of re-entry and the capsules are coated in it for protection.

    @Grimmlock, I know, I’m part of a conspiracy that’s trying to get the people who found out to believe it is true so we can reveal it was false.

  60. Scott

    Well that was close.

    Just got home from lunch and I read this Virgil’s ramblings.

    Almost made me snort up my lunch in laughter.


  61. Bill Roberts

    @rob: Lee Harvey Oswald is holding the camera.

  62. @Virgil,

    “if that landing attempt had actually occurred , no one, or even the capsule could have survived. reentry to our own atmosphere is difficult enough”

    Are you saying that the astronauts wouldn’t have survived “reentry” into the Moon’s “atmosphere”? If not, that is what it sounds like. If so, you do realize that the Moon has no atmosphere, right? Once you’re above the Moon, landing and lifting off are (relatively) easy. In fact, since the Moon’s gravity is much less than Earth’s, it is much easier to lift off.

  63. I bet you all flock to star trek conventions as well

    TROOOOLL the ancient yuletide carol…

    (and yes, we do)

  64. Rob Lee

    @Virgil — You get an F- at life dude, please try to think before you speak. The waving flag is one of the easiest hoax claims to dismiss (although it’s kind of hard to pick just one — none are grounded even slightly in reality). Please, post a detailed analysis of every piece of evidence you have for us not going on the moon and we can refute every single one of them. But I keep forgetting, people like you don’t care about things like “facts”, “evidence”, “science”, or even “basic logic”. I am an extremely open minded person and if evidence had presented itself suggesting the we never landed on the moon, I would have to consider it. There has not, however, been a single shred of solid evidence suggesting that the moon landing was a hoax, and there are MOUNTAINS of evidence suggesting that it is not. Hopefully one of these days you will grow up and learn to use your brain.

  65. @TechyDad technically speaking, Moon DOES have atmosphere … although of negligible mass 10^4 kg with effective surface pressure of around 3×10^-15 atm – it still is an atmosphere

  66. @IVAN3MAN

    Beautiful! ’nuff said.

  67. Jason Wilson

    Oh, yeah, in all this fun, I nearly forgot, thanks for posting this vid Phil, and thanks for the BA blog. I caught the tail end of your interview with 96X last week, great stuff.

  68. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W.,

    Thanks! One can always count on Wikipedia!


  69. @Virgil,

    At first Virgil’s moon hoax assertions were amusing to me, but he doesn’t seem to have the same lasting humor that Neil has. I mean flag waving and burning up on reentry? That’s the best you can do? Where’s the Zionist plot angle? The Illuminati trying to conduct mind control experiments from a secret NASA sound stage? Use some imagination, people!

  70. Nigel

    I was going to stay out of this internet feud because it’s bad enough I’m supposed to be working and even worse that it’s on the internet, but Virgil, you’re disgracing my grandfather, a World War II B-24 flight engineer veteran and Apollo heat shield technician/engineer for NASA. How DARE you. I would say that the moon-hoax conspiracists are anti-American, but it’s not even that. They’re anti-humanity, incapable of believing for even one second that humankind is capable of great things.

    Which begs me to ask: Why are there still laws against euthanizing the obviously brain dead (i.e., the likes of Virgil, for any who might have misunderstood)?

    Phil, I apologize for the impolite and rude things that I’ve said to the obviously misguided, but it’s bordering on personal attack to claim that my grandfather could not have helped protect these brave men from re-entering the atmosphere.

  71. Venturefree

    Is there something like Poe’s Law for general use (as opposed to it’s usual application to Fundamentalism)? If so, I’m calling it on Virgil. Maybe it’s just because I’ve not really dealt with Conspiracy Theorists much, but I honestly can’t imagine someone actually being that ignorant, especially in the Google age.

    (I’m something of a newbie here, so maybe I just haven’t been properly exposed to real ignorance until now)

  72. T.E.L.


    What you and those like you fail to notice is that windblown flags on Earth don’t display STANDING WAVES. Virgil, please bother to even take notice of the naturalistic behaviors in the world around you. The flags on the Moon are just wrinkled because they were compacted for stowage; they aren’t fluttering in the breeze.

    And, Virgil, planetary atmospheres have been measured from Earth (via stellar occultations) for decades. There’s not enough atmosphere around the Moon to even fill a couple of party balloons.

    And I’m not willing to believe that you can’t figure out some of this stuff on your own, especially about flags and blowing air. People such as you are only about grasping for political power. You are that which you purport to condemn.

  73. Nomen Publicus

    We should not blame characters like “Virgil” for their ignorance, we must blame politicians for encouraging stupidity by playing with education policy. If “Virgil” is real and not just playing an idiot he/she/it seems to have no understanding of the world at all. Everything is a special case to such people, they have no way and possibly no desire to see the common fundamentals.

    We can however castigate “Virgil” for adopting the name of one of the Tracy brothers whose technology and bravery protect our world :-)

  74. RE: Mythbusters

    1) The Moon Hoax episode will be rerun on July 21st (check your local listings)

    2) A summary of the bootprint and flag are at the start of a ‘webisode’ about the feather/hammer experiment are online:

    Also airing: on TruTV (formerly CourtTV) on Sat 18th : Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?
    Sat 18th: NatGeo -Conspiracy Moon Landing ( I believe this is the one I recorded and dubbed to DVD some time ago)

    All also will repeat, check your listings

    28 minutes to CSM ignition

  75. This is cool, but the footage doesn’t look much clearer than I’ve seen before.

    This is also why we need to go back to the moon with awesome HD cameras and stuff.

  76. Virgil, I think cell phones are a conspiracy too. I mean, because, since hand held communicators were on Star Trek, all us trekkies just want them to be real.


  77. @scibuff,

    You know, as I was typing that, I wondered about the “no atmosphere” thing but decided not to look it up. I’m guessing that the minimal atmosphere that it does have poses no “burn up on reentry” risk (which, of course, is what Virgil seemed to be implying – that we’d burn up on reentry to the Moon).

  78. Urrghh… this is the third science/skepticism/TAM-related youtube-video that I see today where the first Google AdSense-Message to be inserted is by Scientology. Annoying. Nice video though :)

  79. rob

    the flat earthers are almost correct. it turns out that when the astronauts landed on the moon they found out it is really a flat disc. the same side always faces earth so we don’t detect the disc shape. THAT is what NASA IS COVERING UP!!!! the landings were REAL!! THE MOON IS NOT!! IT’S FLAT!!!!

    you wanna know what NASA found on the other side of the moon? they have photos, but refuse to release them. there is a picture of a GIANT prism with a beam of light shining through it with the refracted light coming out the other side. also, there is a message. the message says “mostly harmless.”

  80. The difference the restoration has made so far is incredible, especially as this is the broadcast footage they’re cleaning up.

    Still a shame that they’ve had to conclude the slow-scan tapes were likely all wiped and re-used. Surely someone made a sneaky copy somewhere along the line?

  81. This video only makes me sadder. The original star-trek tapes apparently have been better shot and better kept than the most important thing ever to be filmed. It’s fading. The moon landings are lost.

    For me that’s a great metaphor: you can try to restore it digitally but the moon tapes are lost, just like a lot of experience, know-how and pratical science that was gained and had been since lost badly translated into books. Virgil is a perfect metaphor – the moon adventure is today but a myth, a fading memory, digitally restored, artificially improved, but fading nonetheless, kept in some basement, in a obsolete analog technology subject to humidity and age. Fading.

    It’s one of those childhood adventures everyone had, that magical place you once visited but never went back, never forgot what you learned, lost the tokens you took from them, and now you we are not even sure if we ever really went there in the first place. You brought a gnome, a precious gem and a magical invisible unicorn. But we stopped believed the unicorn, lost the gnome and the gem turned out to be just and old rock you will one day find again in your drawer. Virgil is right – we never went to the moon. The child that went doesn’t exist anymore, he forgot his dreams, he grew old of the magical astonishement. We are not those who went there anymore. Or we did go, but it doesn’t make any difference anymore because it’s today but a myth, but a childhood adventure.

    We choose the moon. We had it. And we let it go. Time, the first girlfriend got in the way, then there was college, and we had bills to pay. And we let all fade.

    Take a look at that photography, of that brave man on another planet. He is not you. He is but a version of what you could have become had you not abandoned your childhood dreams.

    He is fading away to myth now. And we are all fading away to become just our normal selves, self absorved on our life. Maybe when humanity reaches some middle age crisis we will build a great porsch rocket and crash into the sun.

  82. @rob

    I thought the message on the other side, near the prism, was “Wish you were here”…

  83. T.Wilde

    Phil, you wanted Virgil to read your rule of posting? Look back and see that he only posted his opinion and asked a question. Then you and everyone else attacked and were the rude, insulting ones. So ban yourself and all theses other hypocrtits

  84. Everyone, please don’t violate my commenting policy when replying to Virgil. You can be firm, and even snarky, but don’t be rude.

  85. I see what Virgil did there…

    See, if everyone would have ignored him, he would have skulked away, but, since nearly everyone chose to respond, he got the attention he desperately seeks. Lesson: DON’T FEED TROLLS!!!!

    I saw the last part of the NASA News conference, and as far as the missing/erased tapes go, it appears that it was a case of the right hand not really knowing what the left hand was doing. I think one guy explained it by stating that everyone was so concerned about making the mission a success that they basically neglected to think about the historical significance of what was happening, and saving the original copies. Although he did mention that there are 2 tapes recorded in slow scan still out there that have not been traced. Those were not recorded by NASA, but by engineers from another organization working in partnership with NASA.

    @Liz D… nah, maybe snarky… 😉

  86. I think I was being a little rude :-(

  87. rob

    @Todd W: nah, that’s not it. that message is on the backside of pluto, along with a picture of a man on fire shaking hands.

  88. ZERO
  89. @rob and @Todd W:

    u r both wrong. It says “Made in China”

  90. What with the Santa Ana winds blowing and my sinuses on fire, I needed a good purge this morning. Between this footage and the hi-rez shots on The Big Picture I’ve been crying my eyes out.

    We can DO stuff like this.

  91. @TechyDad “I’m guessing that the minimal atmosphere that it does have poses no “burn up on reentry” risk” … of course, using the wikipedia’s figure of the mass of Moon’s atmosphere, i.e. 10^4kg and air’s density (at the sea level) of 1.2kg/m³ we are talking about a space of about 100x100x50 meters (roughly a volume of a smaller hockey arena)

  92. @Virgil – So you think the world is flat, too? And that the Earth is less than 6,000 yr old?
    ‘Bye, and do let the door hit you on the way out…

    Great job on the Apollo 11 video cleanup! Way too young for the actual event, but I have always been fascinated by what humanity has been able to accomplish!

  93. Dwight

    The restoration will use solely videotape sourced material where possible. This is to eliminate one further link in the long chain of image degredation which found its way into the archives. The result will be the cleanest version of the 1st lunar EVA possible.

    Unfortunately bureaucracy and poor foresight has seen the SSTV tapes get (more than likely) erased. However, as Dick Nafzger said in the conference today, no footage is missing per se, just a cleaner version of the same stuff we’ve been watching for 40 years. The 2″ test recordings at Parkes have not completely been ruled out, so we may be pleasantly surprised yet! In the meantime the EVA has never looked this good outside of the slow scan monitors at the tracking stations on the day of the moonwalk.

  94. TS

    alexandre van de sande said: “The original star-trek tapes apparently have been better shot..”

    I’m not only gonna get anal here, I’m also gonna get technical. Star Trek was not taped, it was filmed and that’s why we can now enjoy the original series in high definition. I say enjoy, that doesn’t quite apply to the third season, it’s more like pulling teeth.

  95. Daffy

    There is a foolish conceit, particularly in the U.S.—thanks to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk— that “my” opinion on any subject is just a good as anyone else’s, no matter what their education/background.

    That is a dopey notion, obviously. But it is one that keeps these HBs going: that their “common sense” is just as reliable as experts and their annoying facts.

  96. Jason Wilson

    @JVannini @rob @Todd W

    Taken by Apollo 11 astronauts as they passed behind the moon (they used a flood light)

    Sony Moon Rising

  97. John Baxter

    Virgil’s comments boldly go where far too many have gone before.

  98. T.Wilde, are you Virgil’s dad? Did the mean scientists hurt hims widdle feelings? There there now. Go have a good prayer and continue filling your child’s head with garbage. Everything will be ok.

  99. Doug Little

    This is quite simply one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. It’s hard not to get a little misty over it.

    BTW Virgil has gotta be a POE, not sure if I can apply the term to a hoax of a hoaxer but I’m willing to give it a try.

  100. T. Wilde,

    Nonsense. Rude is when someone like Virgil insists regurgitating his special brand of crap, despite the fact that it has been thoroughly debunked by every credible agency on the planet – most notably by our host here.

    Rude is insisting that this type of cockamamie garbage be given equal consideration with actual reality.

    Rude is claiming, repeatedly in every forum he can reach, that those brave men, heroes all, the 30 men who have flown to the moon and the 12 men who walked upon its surface and all of the astronauts and cosmonauts of all nations before and since, and all of those tens of thousands men and women who worked tirelessly to complete the engineering, to build the ships, to monitor and guide the missions all over the world, and those Navy Sailors who waited out there on the sea to recover the returning missions, and all of those scientists who worked on the moon samples, and all of those historians who have analyzed every second of those moon missions are nothing more than liars and frauds and charlatans.

    That’s rude, T. Wilde. That’s obnoxious to a degree that simply defies description. That’s rudeness that verges on pathology and a degree of delusion that should quite possibly belong in an institution.

    The Apollo missions are events that rival the greatest in all human history. They defined who we, as Americans, once were – and could be again. More than that, those missions defined who the entire human race could be, if they set their mind to it. Those missions brought the entire world together in awestruck amazement at the shear gobsmacking glory men could achieve if they only dare to do so.

    People like Virgil dismiss all of that out of hand. They dismiss the decades of work and struggle and persistence. They dismiss the ultimate sacrifice by men such Grissom, White, and Chaffee – men who believed in what they were doing so much that they gave their very lives to the program. Virgil, with his childish misunderstanding of basic science, dismisses all those who have the courage to ride the rocket, and all of those who died proving that it could be done – from the test pilots of the 60’s to those who died in both shuttle accidents, to those despite the losses still strap themselves into the shuttle and the soyuz and ride those ships into orbit. They dismiss the iron dedication of men such as Gene Kranz, and the brilliance of uncounted and unsung engineers and scientists and the average assembly line workers at Rockwell and Grumman and Northrup who felt honor and pride as Americans to build the ships that would take men to the stars.

    People like Virgil would condescendingly explain inertia to an astronomer such as Phil Plait – and get it utterly wrong and yet continue to blunder on clueless.

    Virgil and the rest of his ilk deserve no respect whatsoever. He has none for himself and none for the hundreds of thousands he so casually calls liars and frauds and fakes. He, and those like him, deserve nothing more than ridicule and scorn and contempt.

  101. Doug Little

    @Jim Wright


  102. Gunnar Arnkvist

    Yeah, yeah. Do not try to explain anything to Virgil. He isn’t able to understand the elementary facts about physics in air free environment neither in lower gravity compared to the Earth. Let him live with his believes far away from facts.

    I hope with the new orbiter around the Moon with high resolution images they will be able to find what remains of the equipment and tools left from all six lunar landings. Just wonder what fantasies those believers will come up with then to try to explain why facts isn’t important.

  103. Gunnar Arnkvist

    Jim Wright,
    It is 24 men who have flown to the Moon and orbiting it, 12 man standing on the Moon. 3 of them flow twice. Jim Lovell is the only one who have rounded the Moon twice and never landed with Apollo 8 and Apollo 13. John Young and Eugene Cernean went there twice and the second time they landed on the Moon Apollo 16 and 17 respectively. Their first mission close to the Moon was with Apollo 10.

  104. I'd_rather_be fishin'

    NO! NO ! NO! There’s NO way it’s been 40 years since people walked on the moon! I refuse to believe I’m that old. Check with my wife, she’ll agree I don’t act that old at all.

    Virgil, I’m sure some literate person will find the phone number of your local community college and get you registered in a basic physics course. You need it.

  105. Gunnar Arnkvist.

    You are, of course, correct. I miscounted. Thanks.

  106. Belgarath

    To comment on the tapes, and why they were reused: (I gathered this from watching the news conference)

    The Apollo 11 ‘tapes’ were different than subsequent missions. Essentially the video was stored as data on the telemetry tapes and not as separate and distinct video storage. So there were no tapes that said ‘Apollo 11 video here’

    That being said, the Engineer who did most of the talking (and I apologize because I don’t remember his name) indicates that they still are looking for some tapes which may have existed in Australia, but they have been unable to locate them. He seemed to give an indication that their existence may not be pure fantasy.

    As far as Virgil goes, he’s a True Believer and will not be convinced if you took him to the moon and showed him a flag behaving identically to the one we see in the video. The story would just change and the conspirators would get better: ‘Ahh see, they KNEW it would behave that way, so they simulated it on a sound stage! Those silly NASA scientists!’

  107. Lonny Eachus

    I wouldn’t mind people like Virgil so much if they would at least look at the evidence, and give it some genuine consideration. In my experience, most people will at least make some attempt to be reasonable. I wonder if Virgil isn’t really just baiting everybody here, and doing a better job of it than most… a REAL troll for a change.

  108. It’s long been my opinion that maroons who post their anti- this or anti-that drivel on blogs such as these don’t really care about the subjects they are ranting about. What bothers them is that other people care, care enough to achieve the sort of greatness the V___’s and N____’s of the world will never know. For these people are the mediocre, the sub-par, the faceless underachievers who will never do anything even remotely capable of making someone else point their finger and say, “Wow!” They troll about the internet, just as they used to troll about the playground, or the breakroom, or the corridor by the watercooler, talking the big talk and making noise, all the while trying to put down the people who actually matter, the people who do stuff, who can do stuff, in the hopes that maybe no one will notice how small and pathetic they are, despite their loud voices and their misunderstood catchphrases.

    And meanwhile, the rest of the world moves on, in fits and starts to be sure, but always onward, past these losers, in directions and to heights they can only dream about. If they could dream, that is, if they would dream.

    Maudlin Kuhnigget, over and out.

  109. @Gunnar Arnkvist,

    “Do not try to explain anything to Virgil. He isn’t able to understand the elementary facts about physics in air free environment neither in lower gravity compared to the Earth. Let him live with his believes far away from facts.”

    It’s not so much that he isn’t able to understand, but Virgil (in his short time here) and other Moon hoaxers have repeatedly shown that they aren’t willing to listen to scientific explanations and facts. They answer facts with their own homegrown “theories” of how things work. If the facts don’t agree with their theories, the facts must be wrong/faked!

    I wouldn’t mind if someone came on here, and legitimately asked “why did this happen this way during the Moon landing? Why didn’t this happen?” If they listen to the answers and see why things are the way they are, that’s fine. If they answer “why did the flag wave? It didn’t, but the crumpling from storage combined from continued inertia in the nearly-atmosphere-less environment of the moon made it seem like it was waving” with “you have no idea what you’re talking about! It’s clearly waving on a sound stage in Arizona!! My cousin’s neighbor’s uncle’s roommate from college was on the set that day!”, then they deserve scorn and ridicule.

    “I hope with the new orbiter around the Moon with high resolution images they will be able to find what remains of the equipment and tools left from all six lunar landings. Just wonder what fantasies those believers will come up with then to try to explain why facts isn’t important.”

    While I’m hoping for high res images of the landing sites for the pure cool-factor, I have no hopes that it would convince Moon hoaxers. After all, if you accept that the Moon landings were a big hoax that NASA pulled off 40 years ago, why would Photoshopping a few photos trouble them today? Nothing short of them going there themselves would convince some people (and even given that, some might claim that NASA’s fakery was just very impressive).

  110. Elwood Herring

    Nomen Publicus: The Thunderbirds puppet Virgil was actually named after Virgil “Gus” Grissom who died in the Apollo 1 fire. In fact the Thunderbirds Tracy family were all named after five of the original Mercury 7 astronauts; Scott (Carpenter), Virgil (Grissom), Alan (Shepard), Gordon (Cooper) and John (Glenn). Pity Deke Slayton and Walter Schirra were left out though, and I’m not sure about the father Jeff (or Geoff) Tracey – does anyone else know?

    Interesting that the two noisiest trolls here recently shared first names with prominent astronauts. Interesting, and highly insulting too.

    Edit (for clarity).

  111. Much of this footage that is shown here comes directly from the collection of Kipp Tague, who has spent the last 20 or so years amassing an extremely impressive collection of Apollo archival recordings.

    They are still working on restoring and pulling data off of some of the tapes, but it’s impressive how well they’ve done. I’ve seen the video that the first part of the EVA came off of and it was noisy as hell and had some very severe tracking issues. The tape is not first generation, so that made things difficult, but they did manage to correct for most of the tracking issues.

    There are a number of recordings in existence and they’ve been trying to pull the best data off of all of the sources to rebuild the frames, but it’s a very tedious and labor intensive process. We have video tape and kinescope recordings from ABC, NBC, CBS, the Australian Broadcast Commission and a number of others. Some recordings are better than others.

    The wide shot of the flag raising is extremely impressive, especially if you’ve seen the original archive copy.

    There’s definitely still some work to be done though. One thing that is quite annoying is the black smearing to the right of bright objects, especially during the first portion of the EVA. This can be reduced digitally, but it looks like they haven’t gotten that far into it yet. That was caused by the amplifiers in the microwave relay system from Honeysuckle Creek.

  112. Mark Hansen

    Belgarath (108), …That being said, the Engineer who did most of the talking (and I apologize because I don’t remember his name) indicates that they still are looking for some tapes which may have existed in Australia, but they have been unable to locate them. He seemed to give an indication that their existence may not be pure fantasy...

    The tapes were probably reused in Australia for recording a football grand final. Much as wedding and childbirth videos are.

  113. Nemo

    Nice footage, but it seems to be the wrong aspect ratio — 4:3 source stretched to 16:9. That kind of thing really bugs me.

    #98: More things that bug me, and in this case, spoil the joke for me:

    1. That’s the near side of the Moon. The far side doesn’t have mare.

    2. “They used a flood light” — suggests a Pink-Floyd style equation of the far side with the dark side, which is common, but so very, very wrong. One side of the Moon always faces Earth, but it has no such relationship to the Sun. When it’s a “New Moon” on Earth (i.e., the near side is dark), the far side is in full daylight; no flood lights required then.

    3. “They used a flood light” — also implies that humans could actually illuminate an entire face of the Moon with our puny technology. This grossly underestimates the size of the Moon. I have the feeling you know this, so it doesn’t bother me as much as point two, but I feel I have to mention it in light of a certain recent ad campaign that some poor saps seemed to take seriously.

  114. Stu

    Am I the only one who is getting royally hacked off by the fact that whenever an Apollo-related story is posted here, no matter how amazing, how stunning and how incredible it is, the shine is taken off it by frakking time-wasting trolls? I know the gut instinct of people with a brain is to post a rebuttal to a troll’s argument, because we feel a need to defend the truth, but I can’t help thinking that if everyone just stopped taking the bait it would be so much better. They’re not going to just shut the hell up and go away, that much is obvious, but we don’t have to play their games, do we? Enough, please.

    Back to the tapes. Wonderful way of celebrating the anniversary, thanks for posting the compilation Phil.

  115. Checking The Font Of All Wisdom (Wikipedia), Jeff was apparently not named for an astronaut. Also of interest:
    The main characters’ appearances were modeled after then-famous actors. Jeff Tracy was modeled after Lorne Greene of Bonanza fame, Alan after Robert Reed, Scott after Sean Connery, and John after both Adam Faith and Charlton Heston.


    Post Script: here’s the video of the flag debunk:

  116. Zyggy

    A little off-topic from the original post, but VERY appropriate to the plethora of postings…

    Is Discover considering any moderation techniques that may prevent these free-for-all battles of wits? Obviously, some of us are more equipped to do battle this way. Those such as Virgil, however, seem to have left theirs on the counter at home when they left the house this morning.

    Before anyone gets upset about the moderation comment, I meant some sort of user moderation. Some type of system that the readers of this blog can use to perhaps grade posts and/or categorize them as ‘flaming troll’, so that it is easier to read without having to deal with religious zealots and ridiculous conspiracy theorists. The type of system that I am thinking of has been in use on message boards like Slashdot for ages, and I find that trolls and such are much easier to avoid.

    The way their system works is basically as follows: readers and posters can (optionally) give a 1-5 rating to all posts and also classify them with a limited group of classifications. Then posts below a certain rating threshold or with a certain amount of negative classifications are not shown in their entirety. They are still there if you really want to read the nonsense, but are below the normal viewing threshold and don’t really clutter up the actual conversation taking place.

    While I enjoy a good intelligent debate, I hate seeing one person make a stupid un-informed incendiary statement, only to have that comment rule the rest of the conversation. Virgil knew what he was doing when he posted that original comment. He was trying to pick a fight…and he got exactly what he wanted, like several have mentioned, attention. In fact, I believe that he has been here before (hence the “MJ in a peanut butter sandwich” line) and he knew what to say to get folks agitated.

    anyway….Well said Stu. =)

    Thanks Phil for that post, was a good watch with my coffee this A.M.

  117. Jon B

    @Virgil: I still say Columbus’s journeys to the “New World” (ha!) were faked as well. Everyone knows that his ship would have been eaten by sea dragons or, if not, would have just sailed right off the edge and bounced off all those turtles.

  118. tarrkid

    I’ve always wondered how the guys on the CSM felt while the other two went down to the moon. I mean, to get THAT close… To have TWO OTHER GUYS go down to the surface, and you’re stuck up in orbit, obviously a key part of the mission, but NOT ON THE FRAKKIN’ MOON!!!

    I looked Michael Collins up on Wikipedia, and there was a quote…

    In his autobiography he wrote that “this venture has been structured for three men, and I consider my third to be as necessary as either of the other two”.

    I hope he honestly does feel that way… Obviously he’s still in a SERIOUSLY exclusive club, but… …I think it would bug me.

  119. Elwood Herring

    Ivan3man @53 – Is that two different astronauts in that composite photo? And from which mission? Good way of making the point though. Notice even the footprints are identical – no wind to erase them.
    Alexandre van de sande @82 – Stop it, you’re making me cry. Seriously! Nicely written, quite poetic.
    Jim Wright @102 – Well said. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    This 40th aniversary of Apollo 11 is bringing all the deniers out of the woodwork, and frankly it’s really starting to get up my nose. What I notice every time though, is that they always present the same old arguments without actually asking the people who can properly inform them. They prefer to wallow in their ignorance without doing any actual research. Think the flag’s waving? Then look at the video! Look at all the footage available from all the moon missions. Examine it all closely. Watch the Mythbusters programme, and other documentaries (of which there are plenty). See how much work went into the entire project, from space suit design to lunar lander construction to computer design and programming, to rocket thruster design, to orbital trajectory calculations… the list is almost endless.

    Think that was all faked? Think about it – it would have been much easier to go to the moon than to fake all that, and then get 400,000 people to keep quiet about it for 40 years.

    There’s dumb, then dumber, then moon landing deniers.

  120. Jon B

    @119: Somebody’s got to be waiting with the get-away car running.

    I’ve always wondered, though, how they decided who stayed up there and who got to go to the moon. Hm. Aldrin, Armstrong, Collins. Alphabetically, maybe?

  121. rob

    @Jason Wilson: LOL.

  122. Jeff

    @Alexandre: “We choose the moon. We had it. And we let it go. Time, the first girlfriend got in the way, then there was college, and we had bills to pay. And we let all fade.
    Take a look at that photography, of that brave man on another planet. He is not you. He is but a version of what you could have become had you not abandoned your childhood dreams.”

    This is my own feeling on the whole thing, I still have my newspaper clippings of Apollo 11 from 1969. What I remember is being exhilarated by the whole thing, then let down when they cancelled Apollo and started the boring shuttle. For me, it’s been a long extremely boring 1981-2010 shuttle program, time we could have been establishing a moon base. I remember in 1995 Carl Sagan lamented that the shuttle going around and breeding newts just wasn’t inspiring people.

    As for Virgil, I fell temporarily into the HB trap, but the BAUT forum took me back to school and showed me, point by point, why they did land on moon. His flag thing is just one point, but all the other HB points have been demolished by engineers and scientists. I partly blame NASA for the HBers, because they were going to have James Oberg debunk, but for a small sum they cancelled. Why hasn’t NASA had a 10 part series of 30 minute programs going through each HB point by point to show why they went to moon. Why did they pick such an inarticulate guy like Neil Armstrong to be the first? why not a stand up guy like Buzz?

    So it’s a bittersweet 40 anniversary. The rise and premature demise , of the moon program. Go figure.

  123. One question I have, is were later missions filmed in color, and did the quality of the TV cameras used improve in those later missions?

  124. Several points

    The first use of ‘cell’ phones I know of is in R. A. Heinlein’s Space Cadet, where one of the cadets mother(?) calls him.

    I think it was Arthur C. Clarke who first thought of using the moon as an advertising billboard, for Coca Cola, although again it may have been Heinlein in The Man Who Sold the Moon, for a soft drink named 6+.

    Video tape is very expensive, and was commonly reused. Usually intentionally but often in error. Tape Library staff don’t tend to be the brightest people in the business and in union houses the library is a dumping ground. Virgil is probably employed by one.

    Video Tape is not an archive material and has a maximum life of about 20 years. There are methods of extending this, by controling temperatue and humidity but when you are talking multiple 100,000 tapes it becomes impossibe, especially if the library is in regular use as a morgue, and there is a destructive read method for very old tape.

    Most Primetime TV into the 80s was shot on 35 mm film, news done on 16. With the advent of 1″ C-type video tape recording more production moved to videotape and TV type production although an independent reel is now recorded for each camera with the TD generating a reel in real-time that will be re-edited later from the independent reels in post production.

    Color video from space did not use NTSC color methods, the NBC method, but the field sequential system developed by CBS and orginally adopted for broadcast use prior to Korea. The FCC changed their mind later. The NTSC color method adopted in 54 was in use until a few weeks ago, which is an amazing length of life for the first commonly used color video. The reason for this is a relatively high quality color signal could be done with one or possibly two tubes instead of 3 or 4. Serious weight savings.

    NTSC is an acronym for Never Twice the Same Color.

    PAL, the European system, is an acronym for Problems Are Lurking

    SECAM, the French/Russian system, is an acronym for System Essentially Contrary to American Methods, it is the same in French.

    I think my handle is self explanitory. I’ve been in television since 1974, broadcasting since 1964. Engineering.

    IEEE’s 125th aniversary year

  125. @Nemo #1 Mare Moscoviense, Mare Ingenii, Mare Orientale

  126. T.E.L.

    Michael L,

    All the missions after Apollo 11 had color TV cameras; and the quality did get progressively better, though it never got up to what’s called “broadcast quality”. The bandwidth of the signal was too narrow. But, it was good enough to be watchable.

    A note about Apollo 12: the TV didn’t last more than a few minutes. Pete Conrad inadvertently blew out the imaging sensor by pointing it directly at the Sun.

  127. tarrkid

    @scibuff Thanks. Good read.

  128. Nemo

    @scibuff: Yes, I was overgeneralizing. My point was that the near and far side are so different that you can tell them apart at a glance, so it doesn’t work to substitute a picture of one for the other.

  129. @ tarrkid:

    (What scibuff quoted, and…) In Carrying the Fire, Michael Collins’ autobiography, he makes it very clear how important his role was. His attitude just emphasizes even more that this wasn’t about one or two or three men going to the moon, it was about all of us.

    Honestly, hokey politics and PR aside, it truly was mankind up there.

  130. 120. tarrkid Says:

    I’ve always wondered how the guys on the CSM felt while the other two went down to the moon. I mean, to get THAT close… To have TWO OTHER GUYS go down to the surface, and you’re stuck up in orbit, obviously a key part of the mission, but NOT ON THE FRAKKIN’ MOON!!!

    I looked Michael Collins up on Wikipedia, and there was a quote…

    Time to dig out my Jethro Tull.


  131. Doug Little


    I liked his answer about orbiting behind the moon and being cutoff from the rest of humanity. It must have been absolutely serene, that’s something that the others can’t lay claim to. Actually that brings up an interesting question.

    Who has traveled furthest from the surface of the earth?

  132. Doug Little

    Just Answered my own question.

    The farthest a human being has ever been from Earth was during the Apollo 13 mission, when Americans James Lovell, Fred Haise, John Swigert passed over the far, or “dark” side of the Moon at an altitude of 158 miles (254 km) from the lunar surface. This works out to approximately 400,171 km (248,655 miles) from earth. This record was achieved at 0:21 UTC on April 15, 1970. The record has stood for almost four decades, and seems unlikely to be surpassed before 2020, when both Japan and the United States are scheduled to return to the Moon. For comparison, the distance between New York and Tokyo is 10,878 km (6,760 miles).

    The record was achieved when the mission’s original objective, to land two men at the Fra Mauro Highlands on the near side of the Moon, was scrubbed due to an oxygen tank explosion. Instead of landing, the craft was sent into a free return trajectory, using the Moon’s gravity as a slingshot to return to Earth. Normally this would have been a simple procedure, but a significant course correction was required, and due to the explosion, ground operators didn’t want to risk firing the main engine. So, the lunar module’s descent engine was used instead.

    All the manned Moon missions involved one person of the three-person team staying in lunar orbit while the other two visited the surface. The orbital period was about two hours, and the altitude ranged between about four and a hundred miles. Therefore, at least several people came close to matching the distance from Earth record set by the crew of Apollo 13.

    There are no plans for a manned mission to the Moon until 2020, when both the USA and Japan plan to make a visit. The exact specs of these missions are currently unknown, so we don’t know for sure whether they’ll break the record for furthest person from Earth.

    Past 2020, the possibility of a Mars mission is open. If successful, this would shatter the distance record for a human from Earth by a factor of at least 100.

  133. Lonny Eachus

    An argument about whether the moon landing was real that I have liked to use is this: considering the state of the art in video and other technologies available at the time, it would probably have been a lot more expensive to fake a moon landing convincingly, than to just actually go do it.

  134. yeah, Michael Collins was no Buzz Aldrin who one day stormed into the office Eugene Cernan (Apollo 10 and 17) shared with Neil Armstrong, armed with all sort of evidence that it made more sense for the LMP to go down the LM ladder first …

  135. Stu said,

    “Am I the only one who is getting royally hacked off by the fact that whenever an Apollo-related story is posted here, no matter how amazing, how stunning and how incredible it is, the shine is taken off it by frakking time-wasting trolls?”

    Actually, I kind of like the responses to the those less educated.

    Whenever someone comes in here and makes a claim without any evidence, that claim is questioned several times over. Whenever someone comes in here and makes an extraordinarily stupid claim that has already been debunked a million times, the response is loud and numerous. Whenever someone comes in here and spouts utter nonsense, attacking science and those of us that base our lives on fact and reality, the response is thunderous, and usually ends with a smoking crater where that someone once stood.

    If someone comes in here and asks a legitimate question politely, and with sincere interest in learning, the responses are invariably polite, sincere, and thorough.


  136. Davidlpf

    It was Bean who pointed the camera at the sun.

  137. Cumbrian Sky blog has just stated that images if the Apollo landing sites imaged by LRO will be revealed tomorrow!

  138. BGC

    Listening to “live” stream of Apollo 11 mission on and heard this (maybe 30 min go):

    “Apollo 11, Huston. The ground computed values for your shaft and trunnion are just what you’re getting on the DSKY…”

    Translation anyone? I infer they were sighting stars to do course corrections, but how? Shaft and trunnion?

  139. They are mechanical terms, I think a trunnion is a type of bearing that a shaft can turn on. Gryo compass perhaps?

  140. Knurl

    @alexandre van de sande

    With a little more effort you would’ve made made Dirty Harry shed a few tears. I did, and I don’t mind admitting it.

    I was 12 at the time of Apollo 11 and fascinated by science (especially by my Gilbert 750x microscope and my brother’s 2″ refracting telescope). Starting in 4th grade (Fall 1967), when there was any daytime space launch, they would gather classes in the gym with a bunch of TV’s so that we could watch. The first moon landing definitely was the most incredible event that I can recall.

    Countless generations of people have stared at the moon and wondered what it is and what it is like. Suppose you could go back in time and talk to the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, too many others to mention, and convince them you were sending a few people to moon to find out about it. How would they react? What would they say? Would they want to go along too? Would they place you on a pedestal?

    I can’t help feeling sorry for people like #3. They just can’t comprehend what they’re missing out on. I don’t really care if they want to ignore reality, but I won’t let them rain on the parade. They’re best left alone in their world of denial.

    On a brighter note, http wechoosethemoon-org is doing a great job celebrating by recreating the Apollo 11 lunar mission. You can view photographs and videos from the archives, follow the entire event minute by minute on three separate twitter feeds, and browse thousands of pages of declassified mission documents.

    “The undertaking is pretty massive. We’re joking a lot about how sending millions to the moon in cyberspace in 2009 is going to end up taking just as much time as sending three guys to the moon in 1969,” said Joe Alexander, creative director at The Martin Agency. “But truly, we feel honored to be doing it. There’s a real sense of purpose, living up to JFK’s idea that the space race will bring out the best in us. We don’t want to let JFK – in a real sense, our client – down. So there’s a little pressure, which is good.”

    Check it out!

  141. robbak

    Still pretty poor images of the first step. You can really see the switch from Goldstone to Honeysuckle creek, a few seconds in. And the beautiful quality of the Parkes-sourced images later on. Why, oh Why, didn’t they switch to Parkes earlier – Or why didn’t the techs at Goldstone adjust their levels live! (the contrast was way too high, and I other equipment was clipping)
    (Anyone who is interested really must read “On Eagles Wings” – – to learn about how man saw the moon on that day.)

  142. IVAN3MAN

    #121. Elwood Herring:

    Is that two different astronauts in that composite photo? And from which mission?

    Both photos are of Buzz Aldrin — taken a few seconds apart — from the Apollo XI mission.

  143. BGC

    @ntsc I gathered that too. (googling trunnion only got me to auto mechanic-y pages).

    I was hoping some clever engineering-type can explain the process & equipment they were using to do the star sightings.

    I’m just a geologist; what the heck do I know…

  144. petra


  145. doofus

    Wow, and to think, at some point, moon missions were “commonplace”.

  146. With regards to the “trunnion” question, I believe the “shaft” and “trunnion” readings were measurements of the spacecraft’s radar antenna position. By recording the angle through which the antenna had rotated on its shaft, and tilted up or down on the trunnion, you could determine the position of what it was pointed at. This would then be compared to the coordinates from the manual astrolabe, which were entered into the DSKY (Display & Keyboard) of the onboard guidance computer.

    I think.

  147. @BGC a sextant and a scanning telescope were part of the guidance system, the scanning telescope has a huge field of view (FoW = 60 deg) and no magnification, on the other hand, the sextant has FoW of only a few degrees and high(er) magnification and is used to measure angles between two objects (the scanning telescope is used like a “finder” in a away). The sextant allows you to see two targets at the same time.

    One line of sight (LoS) is fixed (along the shaft) and the other LoS can be rotated around the shaft (shaft axis) by about 270 degrees and up and down (around the trunnion axis) about 60 degrees (if you think your shaft is pointed at zenith, then the shaft angle is the azimuth and trunnion angle is the altitude) – so basically those two values give you a direction in a given coordinate system

  148. petra


  149. T.E.L.

    Davidlpf Said:

    It was Bean who pointed the camera at the sun.”


  150. Jason Wilson

    “#98: More things that bug me, and in this case, spoil the joke for me:

    1. That’s the near side of the Moon. The far side doesn’t have mare.

    2. “They used a flood light” — suggests a Pink-Floyd style equation of the far side with the dark side, which is common, but so very, very wrong. One side of the Moon always faces Earth, but it has no such relationship to the Sun. When it’s a “New Moon” on Earth (i.e., the near side is dark), the far side is in full daylight; no flood lights required then.

    3. “They used a flood light” — also implies that humans could actually illuminate an entire face of the Moon with our puny technology. This grossly underestimates the size of the Moon. I have the feeling you know this, so it doesn’t bother me as much as point two, but I feel I have to mention it in light of a certain recent ad campaign that some poor saps seemed to take seriously.”

    You’re just part of the conspiracy 😛

    I’ll admit I didn’t think about #2, expected #1 and did know #3

  151. BGC

    @149 and 150

    Thank You!! All is now clear — and very fascinating….

  152. BGC

    Next Q (and more apropos to the thread), the astronauts apparently took video of the N. American coast at around 50K miles alt., which was later broadcast by mission control (?).

    Is that vid available anywhere or does it fall into the same category as the moonwalks — lost due to tape recycling?

  153. George E Martin

    @134 John Paradox said: Time to dig out my Jethro Tull.

    Yep, “For Michael Collins, Jeffery, and Me” on the Benefit album.

    I’m with you L.E.M.
    though it’s a shame that it had to be you.
    The mother ship is just a blip
    from your trip made for two.


  154. BTW, as I’m sure everyone here already knows, the LRO photo of Gauss crater is fan-freakin’ tastic! This is going to be fun!!!!!

  155. Daffy


    You might also try the Byrds’ song “Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins.” It’s on the Ballad of Easy Rider. Cool tune.

  156. javery56

    I’m just wondering where Virgil went?
    If your reading this, come back and continue with the “debate”. You started off so confident. You presented well thought out questions. There is no such as thing as a stupid question, without them we would not learn.
    What I learnt was that the flag has a rod holding it straight or “erect” as you put it.
    I also noticed that you didn’t even mention that question again when you where “schooled” by Phil.
    You have not been back since, and I thought that if your going to start a debate you should at least stick around for the rebuttal.
    Now I’m no engineer Virgil and it seems like you know what your talking about, so I was wondering, pleading rather if you could explain to me the logistics of a capsule re-entering our atmosphere and I promise to keep an open mind.

  157. Rome

    Why can’t we experiment with how a flag works in a weightless envirornment. Like one of NASA’s training chambers or something. There’s enough debate about this it should get alor of attention.

  158. adam poorshed

    The real tapes are gone?!!!! Tell that to any court and you will get a summary judgment in your favor and sanctions to boot.
    I do not need to argue with anybody, but when the most important piece of video in history is simply erased by “accident” by a custodian who claims it is real against claims of being fake, then it is fake. The burden is now on those claiming that it was real to show that the landing on the moon took place. Until I heard that the tapes are gone I was a skeptic. Now I believe those tapes were fake.

  159. TS

    140. Davidlpf Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    It was Bean who pointed the camera at the sun.

    Only Mr. bean would travel all the way to the moon, only to destroy the camera by pointing it at the sun.


  160. Andrew

    Didn’t astronomers from the Univerisity of Texas measured the earth-moon distance using a mirror which was placed on the moon by the astronauts themselves? How can you possibly say that it was faked? Were academics the world over in on the conspiracy? A geologist from the University of Melbourne, Australia was one of the first to analyse one of the rocks which were brought back. How can people honestly claim that this was a hoax, when scientists from every corner of the globe were involved? The mind boggles.

  161. Bill Bones

    Yeah… wiping out the single only original high quality recordings of how man landed on the moon in order to save money in tapes. Bright.

    Guess someone earned a promotion on that briliant thought, too. I picture guys around taping his shoulder saying “good work, those tapes cost a few bucks each one. Now let’s gonna buy some new coffee machines with what we’ll save”…

    Amerikan WTF (TM).

  162. jj

    Erased the most important video in history to save money? Seriously? And this forum isn’t skeptical? This is outrageous! To save money!

    I’m not a hoaxer, but I also don’t feel to good right now for the pro-landers.

    Disturbing observation – When did this forum become Phil’s sheep? I like Phil and agree with him often, but he isn’t god (if there is one of those). You all should be ashamed of yourself. People of science are supposed to have an open mind, but this discussion board is not much different then a jenny mccarthy anti-vax chat.

    Remember, invisibility used to be a joke? Now who is laughing?

  163. jj

    please ignore the grammar mistakes, its 3 am and i’m wicked tired. thank you

  164. Grisha

    To adam poorshed and other skeptics:

    These are original _data tapes_ of slow-scan tv, this is not VHS. It would take some tricky work to even read those tapes if they were found. That’s all that is missing. Everything else from Apollo 11 is located. No one ever intended to look at that data again since everything else was captured via kinescope or grabbing the signal from the Australia retransmission. It is only of archival interest that we cannot find the original slow-scan which would have had better quality than the restoration. NASA has not had a handle on where these tapes are for 40 years, it’s not like they just turned up missing.

    To the skeptics who find this “news” (it’s not news) further proof of some sort of conspiracy, what about Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16 17? We have ALL the data tapes from those missions as well as all the 16 mm and almost all of the Hasselblad (one exposed cartridge was accidently left in a rock bag on one of the missions, Apollo 14, I believe.) Were those missions a hoax too, or just Apollo 11? What about the 16mm film taken of Apollo 11 and the moonwalk? We have the originals of it? Fake? What if the original slow-scan data tapes of Apollo 11 do eventually turn up, will that turn you back into a believer? Or will you deem it fake too?

    Is the moon hoax just the conspiracy just keeps moving, or do all conspiracies do that?

    If there is NOTHING that would convince you that your conspiracy theory is incorrect, then why should we even be arguing with you? I am asking myself that question right now!

    I put it to the skeptics: List 5 things that you would accept that would prove to you that the moon landings were not faked.

  165. javery56

    Grisha nailed it. Well done.

  166. 162. Rome Says: “Why can’t we experiment with how a flag works in a weightless environment. Like one of NASA’s training chambers or something. There’s enough debate about this it should get a lot of attention.”

    This is exactly what the “Mythbusters” program last year did. Well, not a “weightless” chamber, but a vacuum chamber.

    163. adam poorshed Says: “The real tapes are gone?!!!! Tell that to any court and you will get a summary judgment in your favor and sanctions to boot.”

    To everyone who is amazed at this, and especially the ones making jokes about them recording soccer matches over the footage, remember that these weren’t video tapes (VHS, Beta, etc.) they were computer data tapes. The kind that come on 12″ reels and are the things seen in the background of every sci-fi show of the ’50s and ’60s to represent a “computer.” These tapes were not cheap and it was common practice to reuse them constantly. When I worked for an Air Force satellite program, the data tapes were stored in a vault with maybe a few hundred tapes in it. Considering that the CDC 3800 computers we were using had eight tape drives, and the vault was shared by two programs, that represented only a week or two of tapes. They were basically put into a large rotation and if some need for the tape hadn’t come up in the time it was “cycling,” the tape was reused.

    The data tapes were sent off to the Program Office where they’d be read for whatever information was on them and then returned. After the information had been distributed to whatever offices for data reduction and analysis, the raw data tapes weren’t needed any more (hence the return). If some problem showed up where they wanted to revisit the original tape, it was always very quickly, well before the tape was re-used.

    In the case of the Apollo 11 video, the data had already been “analysed” (i.e. video stripped out of the rest of the data stream) and “reduced” (sent to the network feeds). After the mission was complete, there was probably little reason to save the original tapes.

    – Jack

  167. Jack Hagerty: ” I worked for an Air Force satellite program, the data tapes were stored in a vault with maybe a few hundred tapes in it.”

    So you worked on a satellite program that used tapes to store telemetry?

    You are therefore the commenter in this forum most likely to been guilty of erasing them. Admit it – you screwed it up…

  168. javery56

    Religion is a much bigger conspiracy than 911, the moon landing and zero point energy all put together so why don’t you moon deniers put your focus towards that.

  169. perhaps a high quality hollywood movie.

  170. T.E.L.


    The laser reflectors have been used for precise Earth-Moon measurements. They are still in use today (they’re the only instruments left by Apollo still working). But, the mirrors can’t be pointed to as evidence of bootprints on the Moon. The mirrors could have been put there by robot spacecraft. In fact, the Soviet Union landed several robots which carried along their own reflectors.

  171. Oh, Jack, Jack, Jack….

    Only now fessing up to your role in teh konspiracy?

    Tch tch.

  172. T.E.L.

    Incidentally, erasing the Apollo 11 tapes is par for the course at NASA. The Agency has always been rather frugal internally. A somewhat well-known example is that Skylab was built partially from a leftover Gemini hatch and from surplus lunar module parts (landing gear struts).

    But if one goes here,, and flips to page 85, there’s a very interesting example. It has photos of the Apollo 17 crew during training. The top-right one has Gene Cernan practicing in an Apollo EVA suit out of doors. Here’s the caption:

    “Figure 102 – Astronaut Gene Cernan. This photo was obtained during the spring 1972 at a practice session intended to find any “bugs” in the various experiments. To save the cost of another astronaut suit, Cernan was practicing that day in the suit that had actually been worn on the Moon’s surface by Dave Scott. “

  173. Markus

    Just to clarify, if it hasn’t been already: the “Moon Landing tapes” that some people like to guffaw so much about weren’t video tapes that would have been stored as such. In the case of the first landing, the slow-scan video recording existed as one of fourteen(!) parallel data tracks on the telemetry tape rolls, and these rolls were later reused for other telemetry like it’s frequently done. That’s the only “lost” thing about it. No video in itself was lost, since everything that was transmitted from the moon has been broadcast and recorded multiple times, and no “so far unseen” video can be discovered, because it doesn’t exist. Every transmission from the moon has been seen already.

  174. T.E.L.

    Markus Said:

    “Every transmission from the moon has been seen already.”

    The transmission in my car is from the Moon, but I’m not sure anyone’s seen it.

  175. julie

    mythbusters proved that this is NOT a hoax. i cannot remember all details but look it up.
    there is even more proof on the show this isnt all

  176. Please check out my Apollo 11 documentary DID WE GO?..Funded by the State of Ohio, the film is a one hour cross-country whirlwind of interviews with Buzz Aldrin, Gene Kranz, Gene Cernan , plus Laser ranging the Apollo site, and moonrock experts. Film premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

    There are six parts on youtube…follow the links…I have posted it all at no charge

    here is link to Part one

  177. Nothing

    I wonder why people havent go back to the moon again …. with all the new technology and so on …. Why ..???

  178. Will the Brit

    I generally don,t bother entering into this kind of sh@ . (in fact i’m not, just going to leave a statement) Poor VIRGIL, could be just a monkeys nut, but, i’m definatly getting the feeling most of the opposition to his belief is mostly pride activated knee jerks. I’m not a propper scientist or an astronomer (isn’t that just anyone with a telescope and a star chart anyway?. I got a map of america, don’t meen i’m gonna start tellin folk what it’s like in arizona) but i did ok with the physics bit at school. dropped some balls and ashtrays, splashed in the bath with and without bubbles. seen smoke from chimneys and camp fires, run about with a few pieces of material in my time, even flown a kite once. Watched my world (and not alot of TV) is what i’m saying, and the whole moon trip you’ve all been on together didn’t look that convincing, bit of a joke in fact, well wonky. But then i havn’t seen the media proofs that debunk the theorists so what do i know. i do know of other things you yanks can’t hear though. Elvis wasn’t the first to do rock music. you weren’t the first playing baseball (it was an english kids game called rounders). Oh, and also, although another med’lin theorist called Darwin (think he was a brit too) says otherwise, that american bible of yours that tells us about the science of how we all came to be. also trys to tell you’s one of it’s most important message’s again and again. PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL Y’ALL! xxx. p.s. them big buildings crumpled, just because a couple of wee aluminium planes bumped into them? get down off it, watch less TV, do some looking, and think about what your looking at, then do a little more thinking. …and don’t go shopping, think people, THINK!

  179. Really good content, can you write your own blog posts?

  180. Garth

    Who saw at around -47 on the you tube clip as the two astronauts spoke a image/ thing fly between the helmets of the two astronauts when they were on the/ near the ladder.
    This is not a comment on hoaxes etc as I believe that the missions happen , it is just I saw a white speck fly between the two .


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