MUST SEE – Restored historic Apollo 11 “small step for man” video – like you’ve never seen it. #MoonLanding50

Live video broadcast by TV networks in 1969 was not full resolution – it was a copy done by a camera pointed at a NASA TV monitor. This video is the original at full resolution.

Back on July 20th, 1969, blurry, grainy images of Neil Armstrong coming down the ladder of the LEM were broadcast worldwide to a huge audience. People marveled that we could get the live video at all, only a handfull of people knew that they were looking at a copy of live video.

The reason is that the way NASA sent video back from the moon also included data and telemetry embedding in the same signal. After all, the LEM only had one antenna for this purpose and the radio transmitter had to do double duty in sending both video and telemetry back at the same time. It also meant they could not send video at 30 frames per second like normal TV of the day. They had to sacrifice frame rate for data.

This creating an incompatibility between the specialized equipment NASA was using to view the video, and the standard RS-170 B&W analog video signal TV networks used. There was no way to connect the video from NASA to the TV networks directly. Frame syncs and digital video data converters that we take for granted today didn’t exist yet.

So, something had to be done in order to get the live moonwalk video to the world, and the solution was borrowed from some technology of the time called a “film chain” which was basically a big box that would take 16mm and 35mm film from movies, and allow it to be broadcast on TV. It basically was a TV camera pointed at a small projection screen for the film.

Here’s an example:

Source: https://www.smecc.org/rca-pics/rca_tk13.jpg

While there was no “film” coming back from the moon live, the problem was essentially the same; how do you convert an incompatible visual media to another form?

The answer was pretty simple: point a standard TV camera at the specialized NASA TV monitor, and send the video out to the TV networks. That’s exactly what they did.

While it worked, the downside was that we were all watching what amounted to “2nd and 3rd generation video” by the time it got to our living room TV’s. This made the video fuzzy and grainy.

But, the original recordings have been converted to digital format now, and we can watch the best quality video available of the moonwalk in this restored video below.

While the video quality still isn’t anything like what we are used to today, it represents the best it will ever be.

Compare these two panels below. The “what we saw” was taken from the CBS News video recording.

Thanks to the thousands of people that made this event possible in the first place.

Original Mission Video as aired in July 1969 depicting the Apollo 11 astronauts conducting several tasks during extravehicular activity (EVA) operations on the surface of the moon. The EVA lasted approximately 2.5 hours with all scientific activities being completed satisfactorily. The Apollo 11 (EVA) began at 10:39:33 p.m. EDT on July 20, 1969 when Astronaut Neil Armstrong emerged from the spacecraft first. While descending, he released the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly on the Lunar Module’s descent stage. A camera on this module provided live television coverage of man’s first step on the Moon. On this, their one and only EVA, the astronauts had a great deal to do in a short time. During this first visit to the Moon, the astronauts remained within about 100 meters of the lunar module, collected about 47 pounds of samples, and deployed four experiments. After spending approximately 2 hours and 31 minutes on the surface, the astronauts ended the EVA at 1:11:13 a.m. EDT on July 21.

Also, this WUWT post is well worth revisiting:

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42 thoughts on “MUST SEE – Restored historic Apollo 11 “small step for man” video – like you’ve never seen it. #MoonLanding50

    • Neil Armstrong had written what he planned to say when first stepping on the moon.

      He even read it to at least one person, and asked for an opinion (they loved it).

      But when he was “on stage”, Armstrong missed one word of his planned remark — either he forgot the “a” (likely), or some interference obscured that short word (his unlikely excuse).

      Here’s what Armstrong had actually written, and intended to say, which makes a little more sense:

      “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

  1. This is still as amazing to me now as it was when I was watching as an awestruck 14-year old high schooler 50 years ago. The greatest accomplishment in human history. All done with what we now consider to be rather primitive computer power.

    God bless everyone who made this famous event possible.

    • My parents got me out of bed (UK time) to watch it. It remains one of the strongest memories I am ever likely to have, because they understood its historical significance.

      It makes me more than a little sad to think that today’s children are only fed doom and despair about global warming.

    • Back then scientists and engineers were focused on the advancement of the human race. Today, we have scientists and engineers in the pay of politicians wanting to take the human race back to the stone age.

    • re: “All done with what we now consider to be rather primitive computer power.”

      And, advanced in some ways as well; the I/O interface (primarily for NAV purposes) stands out as an achievement in my book.

      I/O (input/output) beside the human-interactive ‘DSKY’ (Display and Keyboard) includes:

      (1) interface to the star-charting/sighting scope including the ability to drive the star-charting scope to sight on various heavenly bodies,

      (2) ability to download various navigation data directly from mission control (mission control could perform accurate ranging measurements through the Unified S-band radio system),

      (3) controlled, timed firing of the command module orbit-insertion rocket motor based on state vector calculation.

      I’m assuming the IMU (Inertial Measuring Unit) was also interfaced to the AGC and could be updated as required.

      The facet of being able to drive (move with a motor drive) as well measure the sighting angle AND do this with ‘marked’ time value in order to calculate the flight ‘state’ vector to me is quite impressive.

      ALL the elements in a classic ‘computer’ are present in the AGC (Apollo Guidance Computer) too. Quite an accomplishment the “first time around”, but they went through some number of iterations to get to the version of H/W and S/W that the Apollo 11 crew used to get to (and on, and back from) the moon.

      • You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch. You are now free to go back under the bridge and wait for more billy goats to come by.

        • this is a lot of propaganda
          no one from USA has ever set foot on the moon even today
          NASA claims they do not have the ability to get living humans through the van allen radiation belts .
          how did NASA get through the van allen belts 50 years ago ?

          what of operation fishbowl and operation starfish prime ?
          search for and watch
          “a funny thing happened on the way to the moon”

          thank me very much , spank you for promoting this hoax

          • The Greeks have a word for this: ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs ‘a private person, individual’, ‘a private citizen’ (as opposed to an official), ‘a common man’, ‘a person lacking professional skill, layman’, later ‘unskilled’, ‘ignorant‘ from ἴδιος, idios ‘private’, ‘one’s own’.

            From their word the modern word “idiot” was born. Thank you, fred, for this singular opportunity to expound on this term , this word …

            The preponderance of the evidence weighs in favor of an actual series of ‘space shots’ from Surveyor program to the Mercury and Gemini projects on through Apollo, and the moon landings, regardless of the single, little, unimportant facets the idiōtēs bring up …

            Independent proof exists that the missions took place too, but, the premise from which you start precludes your ‘searching out’ for those, for that independent proof.

      • You really believe that Richard?

        Not only were the Moon missions a big boost to science, it was a big boost to the economy as well, with a lot of new stuff to make and sell. Improved computer performance, better clothes and so on.

        Here are a couple examples:

        Four Ways Apollo 11 Paved The Way For The Internet Economy
        https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2019/07/19/four-ways-apollo-11-paved-the-way-for-the-internet-economy/#710fa2f775f3

        and,

        The Continued Socioeconomic Impact of Apollo 11

        Excerpt:

        Economic Impact
        The Apollo program delivered benefits to 6,300 inventions that we use on a daily basis such as microwaves, satellites, and computing to air treatment and countless other spinoffs. They launched industries such as Intel that were impossible before NASA. It created optimism in the public and in future consumers.

        50% of the U.S. didn’t want to fund the Apollo mission. This stunning achievement required the investment of about $25 billion, experts say – well over $100 billion in today’s dollars. (During the height of the Apollo program, NASA’s share of the federal budget was about 4 percent. Today, that figure hovers around 0.5 percent.)

        https://onlinelearningtips.com/2014/07/the-continued-socioeconomic-impact-of-apollo-11/
        ================================
        You are badly mistaken Robert.

  2. https://apolloinrealtime.org/11/ select NOW
    * Mission time 100h 11m 53s – Eagle lander undocks for descent ‘Eagle has wings!
    * Mission time 102h 46m 02s – Eagle touches down on Moon ‘Eagle has landed’
    * Mission time 109h 19m 18s – ‘On the porch’ preparing for EVA on Lunar surface
    * Mission time 109h 24m 26s – One small step

    • Watching landing on History Channel right now. Real drama as they were running out of fuel. Landing! Jubilation! USA! USA! USA!

  3. If in the next decade we establish a permanent presence on the moon, I have four recommendations for people I would like to see in those first 4 seats.

  4. I had an 8mm movie camera when I was in high school, a hand-me-down from my father when he stepped up to a “Super-8” format camera. So, I’ll go one better (or worse) on the blurriness – I filmed some of what came across the TV, including Armstrong’s first step. Now that’s blurry!
    I filmed bits of some of the later missions as well. Maybe it’s time to dig them out of the closet along with the old projector.

    • I, too, filmed the TV broadcast. I had a Super 8, but no sound, of course. Amazing how that technology lagged. Even more amazing is how today’s electronic and telecommunication consumer products exceed the expectations of science fiction of the Apollo era.

  5. My comment here isn’t worth a post, but I would strongly recommend a docucomedy called The Dish about the Australian radio telescope that relayed the images of the moon landing and the story behind the work that went into the transmission.

    I don’t know how historically accurate it is, but if it the script is accurate, Neil Armstrong, (unknowingly) risked the lives of the Australian telescope operators, by not sticking to the original timetable of the Moonwalk. This is not a commercial endorsement, but it is available for rent on Amazon and commercial YouTube.

    Original trailer.

    • Hmmm…looks like it might be historically accurate. I just found this:

      The 200-foot-diameter radio dish at the Parkes facility managed to withstand freak 70 mph gusts of wind and successfully captured the footage,

      Any more would be too much of a spoiler.

  6. Yes, Australia and NZ saw better initial pictures. Only Australia saw it live as it could not be live streamed across the Tasman sea.
    We sent an English Electric Canberra jet bomber (B57 to the Americans, they bought lots as they had nothing better at that time) to race a film back to NZ.
    At school I listened to the moon walk on a crystal set secreted under my jersey (sweater), just a single crystal, no tuner and earphones connected to the two wires at the end of the crystal and an aerial wire to one of the ends. Low tech listening to a (then) high tech event.

  7. The Dish was largly fictional. They never lost contact with the moon shot.The Dish did not transmit the pictures of the landing and walk.
    It was done by a smaller radio telescope at Honeysuckle Creek.

    ‘The movie The Dish claims it was the Parkes telescope which transmitted the world-changing images.

    But in reality it was a small telescope at Honeysuckle Creek, near Canberra.

    Alan speaks with author of Honeysuckle Creek, Andrew Tink, about his book which reveals the true story behind Australia’s involvement in the mission.
    https://www.2gb.com/alan-jones-tells-the-story-of-his-private-dinner-with-neil-armstrong/

    • I’ve seen reports that the Parkes telescope received the transmission, sent those on to Honeysuckle Creek, which relayed to the United States. I haven’t read your link yet. Will do later.

      • Actually it WAS the Parkes Telescope that picked up the transmission that provided superior quality, according to the Parkes Observatory:

        Operations at Parkes

        https://www.parkes.atnf.csiro.au/news_events/apollo11/parkes_operations.html

        It is talked about in the second page, there was indeed a lot of wind which they had to compensate for, and they also stated that it was PARKES that was so much better than the other two receivers that they were dropped shortly after the moonwalk started:

        Page three in the link,

        The International telecast via Houston TV:

        On 21 July 1969 at 12:54:00 (AEST) Aldrin pushed in the TV circuit breakers and activated the lunar television camera. Three stations were tracking the LM at that time: the 64 metre antennas at Parkes and Goldstone as well as the 26 metre antenna at Honeysuckle Creek. All three stations received the TV simultaneously. At Goldstone and Honeysuckle Creek the pictures were scan-converted to the EIA (NTSC) commercial standard TV at the tracking stations themselves, but the Parkes pictures were scan-converted at the OTC Paddington terminal in Sydney. The converted Honeysuckle Creek pictures were passed on to Paddington, where the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Centre employee, Charlie Goodman (Sydney Video), selected the best quality picture from the Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek signals, and passed it on to Houston TV. At Houston TV a controller then selected the best quality TV picture from the Australian and Goldstone pictures. His selection was distributed to the US television networks for international broadcast.

        Since the lunar EVA was commencing earlier than planned, the Goldstone dish assumed the role of prime receiving station for the lunar EVA TV. Consequently, as the broadcast commenced, NASA began by using the Goldstone pictures. ”

        “The timings from the NET 2 dialogue don’t quite match the timings from the video broadcast. The NET 2 tape obtained by the author was provided by Mike Dinn, who was the Deputy Director of Operations at Honeysuckle Creek, so it has mixed with it the internal Honeysuckle Creek intercom (‘Alpha’). The mistimings on NET 2 could simply be due to a poor recording of the master tapes. Whatever the case, the comparative timings are sufficiently close and the number and sequence of the video switches correspond. According to the NET 2 dialogue, in the first eight to nine minutes of the broadcast Houston TV was alternating between the pictures from its two stations at Goldstone and Honeysuckle Creek, searching for the best picture. Goldstone were having terrible problems with their TV, and the Honeysuckle Creek pictures had a very low signal-to-noise ratio, so both pictures were comparatively poor. When the Parkes main beam signals came in, they were of such superior quality that Houston did not hesitate to switch to them. They stayed with the Parkes main-beam pictures for the remainder of the 2 ½ hour moonwalk….”

        bolding mine

        • So those guys risked their lives in order to bring a better quality picture. Good on them.

          I guess I don’t have to do any more research.

        • You are right Parkes relayed the walk, but the ‘First step..’ was Honeysuckle Creek.

    • Canberra and Parkes are on the same longitude, which is to say that if your drive north from Canberra, you will eventually come to Parkes. This means that the moon rises over Parkes at the same time that it rises over Honeysuckle. But unlike Honeysuckle’s special tracking dish which could be angled down to zero degrees – to the horizon – Parkes’s much bigger dish could only be angled down to thirty degrees above the horizon. And this meant that the moon would not rise over the Parkes dish until just after 1 pm. Accordingly, Honeysuckle’s dish would be able to receive broadcast quality TV signals from the Eagle up to two hours earlier than Parkes.

      For almost two minutes, Tarkington persevered with Goldstone believing that its big dish, which was almost three times the size of Honeysuckle’s, would soon produce a better picture. All the while, Armstrong had continued his painstakingly careful climb down the ladder. And with that first step imminent, Tarkington finally said ‘All stations, we have just switched video to Honeysuckle’, whereupon for the first time, 600 million people could clearly see Neil Armstrong on the ladder.

      https://www.smh.com.au/national/how-australia-shared-the-moon-landing-with-the-world-20190717-p5284i.html

  8. Still a stupendous achievement by the 400,000 that worked on Apollo and the courage and professionalism of the three astronauts, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. I am old enough to remember watching it. I also remember it was a time when there was hope and optimism about the future and what science and technology could do. No wonder people are stressed when all we have is uninformed doom-mongering and divisive identity politics. I pity the youth of today.

    • I just happened to be looking through the tv channels available to me this morninig and I noticed a couple of channels that made me curious, one being “Aqua Kids Adventures” and the other was “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation”.

      I had no idea what the two channels were about and was surprised to hear pure CAGW propaganda coming out of what appeared to be a group of young people about 12-years-old The Auqa Kids talked about all the species that were in danger because of CO2 and then they said, “all we have to do is fix that one little thing (meaning CO2 emissions). One of the Aqua Kids also mentioned that 97 percent of climate scientists agreed that CAGW was real.

      So I watched the Aqua Kids for about five minutes and then switched over to The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation and was presented with another group of kids about the same age as Aqua Kids along with one adult, and they were all standing in a shallow mud flat and were picking up clams and the adult, whom I assume was a biologist was telling the kids that as the CO2 problem got worse clams like the one he was holding in his hand would see their shells dissovling because of ocean acidification caused by CO2.

      Everyone on both programs were definitely True CAGW Believers and it looks like they are pushing the CAGW propaganda hard at the children, so the youth of today are having a lot of pressure put on them.

      The biologist was so certain of his scientific position. True Believers are certain of their righteousness.

      I don’t know if all the kids programs are CAGW propaganda outlets but I suspect they are. Our children are facing a storm of lies and distortions every day on numerous subjects, not just CAGW, and it’s all coming out of the radical Left and the radical Left News and Entertainment Media, reinforced by the school systems. The kids have a lot of confusion to wade through. I don’t envy them. But all of them aren’t stupid, and some will reject the propaganda. Let’s hope that’s a large number.

  9. Just curious about the ‘original’ claim – I thought those films were taped over way back.

    So this is restored ‘copy’?

  10. I heard that the original video tapes were about to be thrown out by NASA when an intern asked to purchase them. The tapes had been in storage for years, and NASA didn’t know what they were. Is there any truth to this story?

    • NASA has stated they were taped over. Whoever did that should be shot, even at this late date.

    • I learned more from an article in the NY Times:

      “… On Saturday, the moon landing’s 50th anniversary, three reels of videotape will be auctioned at Sotheby’s, marketed as “the only surviving first-generation recordings of the historic moon walk” and “the earliest, sharpest, and most accurate surviving video images of man’s first steps on the moon.”

      According to Sotheby’s, a NASA intern named Gary George bought the recordings as part of a collection of 1,150 reels at a government surplus auction in 1976. He paid $217.77 for all of them. The bidding on Saturday starts at $700,000, and Sotheby’s estimates they will sell for over $1 million.”

      So the tapes bought by the NASA intern are the earliest and best surviving tapes, but not necessary the original tapes. “In the 2000s, NASA led a search for them and concluded that they had almost certainly been reused or erased during a tape shortage at NASA in the early 1980s.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/15/arts/moon-landing-tapes-auction.html

  11. Louis Hunt
    “…no problem there will be a thing called “Youtube” coming up in about 25 years or so… Reuse the damned tapes…” 🙂

  12. Thought I would park this here as well – it really is worth viewing if you’re into computer architecture, instructions sets, how addressing and the indexing of ‘data fetches’ and stores et al were accomplished –

    The ultimate ‘talk’ on the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) including a review of the instruction set/op codes et al and the software routines written for the various mission ‘segments’:

    “34C3 – The Ultimate Apollo Guidance Computer Talk”

  13. I tested insulation for the Saturn S-IVB at A-Plant and Sacramento, a very small (but necessary) part of the whole picture. I also tested other components that may or may not have made it to the final version.

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