'Lost' Footage of First Moonwalk to Screen in Australia
Slow-scan Polaroid taken at Goldstone tracking station reveals far more detail than publicly broadcast TV during Apollo 11 moonwalk. Search is underway to locate old Apollo tapes and freshen them up with new digital technologies.
Credit: Image Courtesy: Bill Wood

A screening of long-lost tapes from the Apollo 11 mission ? including footage of Neil Armstrong's iconic descent from the lunar module to the surface of the moon ? will take place in Australia next week, according to news reports.

This will be the first time the tapes are screened in public, the Agence France-Presse news service reported.

The showing will be part of the Australian Geographic Society Awards Oct. 6 in Sydney. Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin is expected to be the guest of honor at the event.

A set of tapes of the historic 1969 moonwalk was thought to have been either reused years ago ? erasing the original images in the process ? or lost somewhere in NASA's archives.

The space agency embarked on a full-scale search and found them, but in badly damaged condition. Workers meticulously labored frame by frame to give the black-and-white tapes a digital makeover.

The restored footage runs for a few minutes and provides some of the best images of man's first steps on the moon, Australian astronomer John Sarkissian told AFP.

Sarkissian, who was a member of the restoration project, is an operations scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia.

He said the footage, which was recorded in Australia, shows the first few minutes of Armstrong's descent.

NASA was relying on the Goldstone, Calif., station signal, "which had its settings wrong," Sarkissian told AFP, "but in the signals being received by the Australian stations you can actually see Armstrong.

"In what people have seen before, you can barely see Armstrong at all. You can see something black ? that was his leg."

The video forms part of a highlights reel of the now-digitized moonwalk footage. ?Because Aldrin, who followed Armstrong onto the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, plans to attend the event, the screening holds a particular poignancy.

"When we heard Buzz was going to be the guest of honor, we thought: What a great opportunity," Sarkissian said.

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