NASA announces official search for the missing Apollo tapes

Friday, August 25, 2006

On August 16, 2006 NASA announced its official search. "The original tapes may be at the Goddard Space Flight Centre … or at another location within the NASA archiving system. NASA engineers are hopeful that when the tapes are found they can use today's digital technology to provide a version of the moonwalk that is much better quality than what we have today."

The news that the tapes were missing broke to the public on August 5, 2006 when the printed and online versions of The Sydney Morning Herald published the story with the title One giant blunder for mankind: how NASA lost moon pictures.

The Apollo missing tapes are the recordings of the transmissions (television, sound and telemetry data) broadcast during the Apollo missions (including broadcasts from the Moon), referred to as Slow-Scan TV (SSTV). This raw data was recorded onto 1" wide magnetic tapes at the same time as it was converted for terrestrial TV broadcast. There are about 2612 boxes that might contain the tapes and whose location is unknown. It is estimated that about 13,000 original magnetic tapes are missing. They might be at Goddard Space Flight Center or another location within the NASA archiving system. Scientists believe that if the tapes are found modern techniques would allow these tapes to be turned into higher quality pictures than the ones seen by the public.