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NASA reacquires original Moon landing footage

Tapes discovered in Oz, agency confirms

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NASA has seemingly confirmed that the original taped recordings of the first Moon landing have turned up in Australia - almost three years after the agency admitted it had carelessly mislaid them.

The Parkes Observatory in Australia captured the 1969 live images straight from the lunar surface to magnetic tape. What the US public saw, though was a compressed feed "downsized" to local TV resolutions, while NASA itself grabbed a 16mm copy from a TV monitor.

The Parkes Observatory tapes were apparently shipped to the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland a year after the landing, but in 2006 NASA confirmed that despite an extensive search, their whereabouts was unknown.

However, the Sunday Express now claims the footage was actually gathering dust in a storage facility in Perth among other tapes containing Moon dust data - presumably the same material which Oz scientists hoped to run through a vintage IBM 729 Mark V tape drive earlier this year.

A NASA spokesman confirmed the Apollo 11 landing recordings are the real deal, and said: "We’re talking about the same tapes."

He added: “At this point, I’m not prepared to discuss what has or has not been found. The research team is preparing its final report and we’ll release those findings publicly in the coming weeks.”

The Sunday Express notes that "if the visual data can be retrieved, NASA is set to reveal them to the world as a key plank of celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the landings next month".

Whether the world will finally enjoy high-quality pics of Aldrin and Armstrong strolling the Moon's surface remains to be seen. When NASA coughed to having lost the original tapes, John Sarkissian of the Parkes Observatory noted that even if a machine could be found to replay them, they would be "so old and fragile, it's not certain they could even be played". ®

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