One Small Step For Duh...
Have you ever seen the classic Harrison Ford movie "Raiders Of
The Lost Ark?" If so, you're no doubt very familiar with the final,
iconic scene of that movie, in which a faceless government employee
pushes a wooden crate containing the fabled Ark of the Covenant
through a warehouse... surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of
similarly nondescript crates... to be lost forever in a sea of
Well, we can't confirm this... but rumor has it NASA has now
sent some of its best and brightest to that very warehouse, hoping
that rare videotapes of the Apollo 11 moon landing might be
contained somewhere therein, as well.
"It's the whole history of the entire mission, of everything
that went on," said retired NASA camera manager Stan Lebar of the
missing moon tapes. "They're not lost, it's just we haven't gotten
to the next step yet."
The person placed in charge Tuesday of that "next step" is
Richard Nafzger, who is heading the team now searching the
sprawling Goddard Space Flight Center -- the facility that
originally misplaced the tapes -- hoping to stumble upon the more
than 13,000 very important recordings.
The rare videos show footage far more detailed than the
now-famous images broadcast from Tranquility Base in July 1969.
Recorded at 10 frames per second, the images on the tapes are
reportedly so sharp, viewers can see Neil Armstrong's
reflection in Buzz Aldrin's visor.
The tapes have never been shown to the general public -- in
fact, no one except a few NASA technicians have ever seen the
images in all their glory. Nafzger says the tapes were shown to
technicians in Australia... but as televisions required 60 frames
per second for broadcast, each image was shown six times, which
resulted in blurred images and "ghosting."
"The quality ... is two, three or four times better than we ever
saw," Nafzger told the Associated Press.
As you might have guessed, NASA has actually known of the
missing tapes for some time... but only recently has an organized
search been mounted. That's partly due to NASA's renewed interest in the Apollo
moon missions... and partly due to the media picking
up on the story.
Lebar had hoped to find the tapes at the National Archives --
where the tapes were originally sent in 1970. After
searching that warehouse (which the 81-year-old compared to
the "Raiders" facility) only to come up empty, however, Lebar and
Nafzger determined the tapes must have been returned permanently to
Maybe. If not... well, we suspect the attics of former NASA
employees might be next. Or maybe George Lucas has them?