Apollo-11 Tapes Apparently Not Found

June 28th, 2009
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Big bummer.

I received word from those involved in the preservation of records of the Apollo 11 broadcasts from tracking stations in Australia (Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek) which indicates that the story about the tapes being found is false.   According to a source involved in the archiving of data in Australia:

The UK journalist was engaged in a piece of “creative writing”

More info debunking this has appeared on the Twitter account of one of the officials at the NASA office of public affairs:   http://twitter.com/bnjacobs/

On a somewhat related note:  There is an ongoing effort to preserve the memories, photographs, film and other information on the efforts made in Australia and elsewhere to make the reception of Apollo-11 television transmissions possible.  I suggest checking out this website for volumes of fascinating information on the topic.

While it’s impossible to be absolutely sure that some other party has found the tapes, all indications from those involved at the moment are that the report was false.

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 28th, 2009 at 9:05 pm and is filed under Announcements, History, Misc, Space. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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12 Responses to “Apollo-11 Tapes Apparently Not Found”

  1. 1
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I can confirm that researchers in Perth who had been looking for possible NASA tapes, as NASA did have a tracking station in the area, have noted that the tapes were NOT found

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  2. 2
    Bobby78 Says:

    Well that’s a shame. I’m not terribly surprised though. The article seemed a little too vague.

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  3. 3
    Robert Says:

    See this news article from 2006 http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200611/s1779983.htm

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  4. 4
    Zep Says:

    Sorry, you’re wrong. They HAVE been found. What is needed is the right equipment to read them. Being so old, special tape-drives are required. They are not 9-track 1600BPI or 6250BPI reel tapes.

    How do I know? Our computer museum is supplying those special old tape-drives… Stay tuned.

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  5. 5
    doodah Says:

    Hey Zep, can you contact me about this via email please?

    I’d really appreciate it.



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  6. 6
    Mister Fisk Says:

            Robert said:

    See this news article from 2006 http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200611/s1779983.htm

    That is a bit old, isn’t it? three years and still nothing. I know they did find some apollo era NASA tapes, but they didn’t turn out to be the ones with the video on them. They were from other missions or contained other data. I think we would have heard of it in the past three years if they did.

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  7. 7
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I’m really not worried about the ability to read the tapes. It is stated that the Goddard Space Flight Center is the only place that can play them back, but the fact is that really all that is needed is the ability to read the raw data off of the tapes. The rendering of the SSTV image is not a complex problem. It’s a fairly simple video signal and it could be done by just feeding the raw output of any compatible tape drive into an ADC and writing some software to render the base band signal into a raster image.

    In the event that there are no compatible playback decks in existence, it wouldn’t necessarily be all that difficult to fabricate one. Reading magnetic tape is not that difficult of a problem. It would be an issue of running the tapes over reader heads and reassembling the data. It’s not necessarily an issue whether or not the same standard of reading the tapes is possible. Even if the data pulled off of them is not kept in proper tracking by the machine, that can be done in software.

    There are examples of customized tape reading systems built to pull data off of tapes for forensic work. I recall seeing something about a company that had demonstrated retreiving voice off of degraded or erased tapes using a system they built where the tape passed over 12 different reading heads, each one reading a narrow area of the tape. They had suggested they could possibly retrieve audio from the famous Nixon “Tape Gap”

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  8. 8
    Bill Wood Says:

    The Apollo 11 EVA slow-scan television baseband was recorded on Mincom M22 Instrumentation recorders. The tape width was 1-inch, the reel diameter was 14-inches, the number of tracks was 14. The tape speed was 120 inches per second.

    Why do I know this?

    I was on duty at the Goldstone MSFN station during the Apollo 11 EVA. Mincom M22 recorders were also used at the Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek MSFN stations in Australia. Anyone wanting to read the straight scoop on what was done go to this ALSJ web page: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/ApolloTV-Acrobat5.pdf

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  9. 9
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Mr. Wood: I am honored by your visiting my website. Thanks very much for the pdf. That is really fascinating. I especially liked the description of the RCA scan converter. I was completely unaware that scan converter contained a delay line or disc storage system. I was also not aware that the video was recorded after conversion at the points of reception.

    I was wondering if you happened to know who the operator of the scan converter was and if he is still alive? I believe his name was Bob, but I’m bot sure. Apparently he wasn’t supposed to have been the one working at the time of the transmission but this changed when the EVA was rescheduled at the last minute.

    Regarding the original tapes, I’d like to know your opinion as to whether they exist and what you think happened to them. Having read quite a bit about it, I believe they probably are still around and are at Goddard. They were returned to there some time in the late 1970′s. I believe that the most likely case is that they were never properly cataloged and filed and that they are sitting in one of the many massive, disorganized, collections of tapes at Goddard.

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  10. 10
    DV82XL Says:

    Gee the plot thickens

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  11. 11
    Farmer Gary Says:

    You’re all wrong. The truth is obvious. The original tapes were destroyed by the Men In Black after filming on the sound stage. These new tapes must have been a copy they missed. Obviously, these new tapes showed proof that the entire thing was a lie. They probably show other cameras or a boom mic or maybe a director or stage hand that accidentally got in frame. But now the Men In Black have also found these new tapes and destroyed them too.

    And that Bill Wood guy, he’s obviously one of “them”.

    Sheesh. Sometimes I think you guys wouldn’t see the plain truth if it came up and bit you.

    P.S. And I don’t care what new tapes you show me, with today’s computer technology they could easily make a fake to further hide the truth.

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  12. 12
    Giordano Bruno Says:

    Good news for all!!



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