James Brolin, Sam Waterston, The Juice sought in disappearance of Apollo 11 tapes


"I would simply like to clarify that the tapes are not lost as such, which implies they were badly handled, misplaced and are now gone forever. That is not the case," explained John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's (CSIRO) Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia.

Translation: The tapes are lost. Original videos of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, due to be remastered to produce a much better image than the ones originally broadcast on televisions around the world, are nowhere to be found in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. For three years, an independent group of former tracking station workers have been looking for hundreds of boxes of magnetic slow-scan television tapes from the Apollo and Explorer programs—none of which are lost, though all of them cannot be found and may have been recycled. Other than that, they're readily available, which is good because there's a concern that these relatively crude recordings may be deteriorating; a digital transfer may be necessary to keep them from disappearing completely.

The characteristic pro-NASA answer? We were just too damned good! "The archiving of the tapes was simply a lower priority during the Apollo era," says Sarkissian. "It should be remembered, that at the time, NASA was totally focused on meeting its goal of putting a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No sooner had they done that, than they had to repeat it again a few months later, and then do it again, repeating it for a total of seven lunar landing missions…including Apollo 13." That should make the search for the tapes a breeze now, since NASA's employee workforce is less than half what it was in the Apollo era, and its contractor force less than a third.

NEXT: Taught a Lesson

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  1. This should give conspiracy types a lot to chew on. 🙂

  2. Can we please just eliminate NASA already? You know, lose them like they lost the tapes.

  3. Good riddance. There are too many historical artifacts already.

  4. Wait, you mean the government makes mistakes?

    Well, then, how can we trust them to torture only bad guys?

  5. Lost isn’t lost…a loss isn’t a loss…it’s a victory…g-speak at its finest…I wonder if John Sarkissian would be so, um, vague if he were discussing a situation involving an unlost, un-badly mishandled paycheck.

  6. thoreau, you don’t already know the answer?

    “Sure, maybe a few innocent guys get tortured, but that’s the price you have to pay when you’re conducting Jack Bauer-level operations.”

  7. Fucking pathetic. One of the greatest moments of human history and THEY LOST THE TAPES?!

    Maybe Nixon’s secretary erased them.

  8. MNG-

    Well, the guys responsible for this fuck-up had better go talk to Gerald Ford while he’s still alive.

  9. Have they looked under the cushions on the couch? Just the other day, I found my original tapes of the Apollo 12 landing under my seat cushions.

  10. That comes to make Sam Waterston in all this. Please answer me.
    ( I live in Paris in France)

  11. OK, losing the tapes was bad. Having said that, some perspective on the H&R commentary:

    It is perhaps understandable that after accomplishing the greatest human achievement of all time that some followup record-keeping details slipped through the cracks.

    Media do not archive themselves, and to properly store and track the tapes they should have been turned over to professional archivists or librarians. This would have required ongoing funds for maintenance and storage. The post-Apollo NASA budget was pretty slim, partially due to the efforts of a certain class of anti-tax enthusiasts. It is disingenuous to cut programs and funding, then to complain about the attendant lack of government services.

    The reason (ahem) that the Apollo program continued after the first moon landing is that there was lots of extra hardware in the pipeline, since NASA had expected more failures than actually occurred and wanted to make sure they got there ahead of the Soviets.

    Finally, as stinging as is the criticism from “one of the fifty best” American magazines as judged by one American newspaper during a period of several years, it seems that said criticism and source is rather inconsequential when compared to the overall enterprise being criticized.

  12. That comes to make Sam Waterston in all this.

    James Brolin, Sam Waterston, and O. J. Simpson were the stars of the movie Capricorn One, in which the three of them need to escape NASA.

    A little aside… Before they split up after the plane crash, James Brolin hands out the weapons from the survival kit. He gives OJ the knife.

  13. I think they should look under Walter Cronkhite’s cushions.

  14. Somebody recorded over it. The tape is now part of some NASA technician’s collection of homemade gay porn:

    Neil Armstrong: “That’s one small step for a man…”

    Fat Guy In Red Teddy: “I’m just a girl who can’t say no…”

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