August 14, 2006

NASA can’t find original tape of moon landing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has misplaced
the original recording of the first moon landing, including
astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one
giant leap for mankind," a NASA spokesman said on Monday.

Armstrong's famous space walk, seen by millions of viewers
on July 20, 1969, is among transmissions that NASA has failed
to turn up in a year of searching, spokesman Grey Hautaloma
said.

"We haven't seen them for quite a while. We've been looking
for over a year and they haven't turned up," Hautaloma said.

The tapes also contain data about the health of the
astronauts and the condition of the spacecraft. In all, some
700 boxes of transmissions from the Apollo lunar missions are
missing, he said.

"I wouldn't say we're worried -- we've got all the data.
Everything on the tapes we have in one form or another,"
Hautaloma said.

NASA has retained copies of the television broadcasts and
offers several clips on its Web site.

But those images are of lower quality than the originals
stored on the missing magnetic tapes.

Because NASA's equipment was not compatible with TV
technology of the day, the original transmissions had to be
displayed on a monitor and re-shot by a TV camera for
broadcast.

Hautaloma said it is possible the tapes will be unplayable
even if they are found, because they have degraded
significantly over the years -- a problem common to magnetic
tape and other types of recordable media.

The material was held by the National Archives but returned
to NASA sometime in the late 1970s, he said.

"We're looking for paperwork to see where they last were,"
he said.