The Apollo 11 Moonwalk in July 1969 was the climax of the Apollo Program with the
largest television audience in history watching Mankind’s first steps on the Moon.
Surprisingly, the best quality TV was never seen outside the tracking stations. The pictures seen by the world
were substantially degraded by the time they reached Houston.
The highest quality TV was recorded on telemetry tapes at the three tracking stations which received the
signal – Goldstone in California and Honeysuckle Creek and Parkes in Australia.
These 37-year-old tapes have never been replayed. If they can be found and digitally processed, they could
produce stunningly clear TV – much better than was seen in Houston or on the worldwide broadcast.
However, time is running out to find these irreplaceable tapes before their data is lost forever.
>> Evidence suggests the original tapes may be in storage somewhere at a NASA facility. <<
The Lunar TV Camera
Early in the Apollo Program, it was realized that bandwidth from the Moon
would be very limited. Voice, telemetry, biomedical data and television
would have to share the link from the Lunar Module.
Consequently, NASA budgeted only 500kHz for TV from the Lunar surface
– much less than the 4.5MHz standard for commercial broadcast television.
NASA mission planners called for a Lunar Camera which could cope with
this limitation by using a non-standard slow scan format of 320 lines of
resolution at 10 frames per second (instead of the US TV standard of 525
lines at 30 frames per second).
A team at Westinghouse spent five years developing such a TV camera. It
was capable of producing a very good black and white picture in the harsh
lunar environment with its extreme temperatures and lighting conditions.
>> This non-standard TV signal from the Moon had to be converted to
standard TV format before it could be released to the waiting world. <<
At Tranquillity Base, Neil Armstrong mounted the TV
camera on a tripod to provide the view seen in the
images on page 2.
Neil Armstrong read