July 16, 2009—Apollo 11 has never looked better: See NASA's newly restored video of the first ever moonwalks in 1969—and find out what it took to capture it.
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© 2009 National Geographic; Video courtesy NASA
NASA has released enhanced video from mans first walk on the moon in 1969.
The video was broadcast on television at the time, but most of the video recordings have been locked away for nearly 40 years.
SUPER: NASA Video One Small Step
When Neil Armstrong made his first steps on the moon, it was viewed by what might have been the largest television audience ever--- more than half a billion people around the world.
But how the video was captured is a story in itself.
Because of skepticism of the time, NASA believed live video from the moon was crucial for credibility of the mission. And Stan Lebar of Westinghouse Electric was called on to develop the cameras that had to withstand the extreme conditions of plus or minus 250 degrees- AND they had to operate on very little power.
SUPER: Stan Lebar, Former Westinghouse Engineer And the power was totally 7 watts, which is the power that one Christmas light bulb would take.
The camera that captured Armstrongs first steps was mounted on a swinging door on the lunar module.
SUPER: Stan Lebar, Former Westinghouse Engineer When Armstrong came out on the porch, he pulled a D-ring which opened a door, large door that had the camera mounted on it, so when the door swung out, the camera was positioned so it saw the ladder, and thats how that image was taken.
The video seen by millions was actually transmitted through a tracking station in Australia, then back up to a satellite, back to earth in Houston, and then to television networks.
The video released today comes from various so-called slow-scan tape recordings made at the time found at NASA, the National Archives, and the CBS network archives.
The video was digitized and enhanced by the Lowry Digital Company.
SUPER: Mike Inchalik, President Lowry Digital Its 37 years after the invention of the very seminal technology, video noise reduction, that John Lowry pioneered on the Apollo 16 and 17 missions 40 years from the Apollo project, and now we have the privilege to take this new enhanced technology that takes quality at a premium and tries to extract everything possible from motion sequences and bringing it back to NASA one more time.
SUPER: VOICE OF: Dick Nafzger, NASA, Restoration Team Leader On the left is the available archive image now, dark image .. on the right, youre now starting to see the full body of Neil Armstrong coming down the steps. Its lightened up, theres more detail. You see his helmet now; you see the reflection in his helmet.
SUPER: Dick Nafzger, NASA, Restoration Team Leader There is nothing being created. Theres nothing being manufactured. We are restoring and extracting data thats in the video."
The release includes 15 key moments from Neil Armstrong's and Buzz Aldrin's historic moonwalk, including whats known as the flag-raising.
SUPER: Dick Nafzger, NASA, Restoration Team Leader On the left is a very good depiction of where were headed. The noise, the lack of detail in the upper part, bottom part of the lunar module. If you look on the right, you start seeing a lot of detail thats clean. The surface of the moon is lit properly. This is the sun. It was a camera and scan converter issues on darkness theres your archival this is what most of the world saw. Now were looking at restored video and the detail on the lunar module and the astronauts and the overall picture clarity and cleanliness is coming along just terrific.
Nafzger points out that while they are releasing newly enhanced video, there was no missing video discovered. He says all the video taken on the mission was transmitted to television in 1969.