NASA’s Apollo 11 mission successfully landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The Moon landing, led by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, was watched live around the world. An estimated 650 million people watched Commander Armstrong walk on the Moon 50 years ago. And yet generations of conspiracy theorists have questioned the official story, branding the Moon landing a hoax.
Now, as the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing approaches, NASA has addressed some commonly held misbeliefs.
A popular conspiracy theory claims the US space agency has lost crucial video evidence of the Moon landing.
Another conspiracy claims NASA has also lost never-before-seen footage of the Moon landing.
Neither of these two scenarios, according to NASA, are true.
NASA said: “With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing approaching, reports have resurfaced that NASA lost precious video footage of that first moonwalk.
In case anyone thinks there is video out there that hasn’t been seen, that is not the case
Dick Nafzger, NASA
“Before diving into the details of two distinct events that seem to have become conflated, it’s worth emphasising three key points.
“NASA searched for but could not locate some of the original Apollo 11 data tapes – ‘original’ in the sense that they directly recorded data transmitted from the Moon.”
An “intensive” search through NASA records and archives did not reveal the tapes, leading NASA to believe they were wiped and erased simply because they were no longer needed.
Another point, NASA said, is the video data on these tapes was transmitted over to the Manned Spacecraft Center during the Apollo 11 mission.
The video was recorded there as well as other locations and, as such, there is no missing footage of the moonwalk.
NASA’s search has also uncovered high-quality video broadcasts from the moonwalk, which NASA restored in 2009 for the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing.
NASA said: “Data from the Apollo 11 mission was sent from the spacecraft to three ground stations, one in California and two in Australia, which retransmitted it to the Manned Space Flight Center in Houston.
“The ground stations also recorded the data on special one-inch, 14-track tapes, one track of which was for video.
“The video footage was recorded in ‘slow scan’ — 10 video frames per second — which meant it couldn’t be directly broadcast over commercial television.”
The video was instead converted for broadcast purposes and beamed to a satellite, patched through Houston and shared with the rest of the world.
NASA first led a search for 14-inch Apollo tapes following requests from retired NASA employees.
The space agency did not find the tapes, concluding they were repurposed in accordance with the standard practice at the time.
NASA engineer Dick Nafzger, who led the search, said at the time no additional footage from the Moon exists.
Mr Nafzger said at a 2009 press conference: “There was no video that came down slow scan that was not converted live, fed live, to Houston and fed live to the world.
“So, just in case anyone thinks there is video out there that hasn’t been seen, that is not the case.”
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