Restored Apollo 11 Video Offers Clearer View of Mankind's 'Giant Leap'

If you were around in 1969, the ability to view a live television broadcast from the Moon seemed pretty amazing. From the comfort of your living room, you could watch NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong take his oft-quoted "giant leap for mankind." Yes, the video quality was awful -- far worse that what you'd get from mini-mart security cameras that came along later -- but that didn't matter. We were watching history in the making.

Video technology has come a long way in 40 years, of course, and NASA has taken advantage of today's digital wizardry to clean up that old Apollo 11 footage. The space agency today released restored video from the July 20, 1969 live TV broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk.

This video clip compares the partially restored video with the original footage:

The video release, which commemorates the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo landing, features 15 moments from the historic Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin moonwalk. The clips are part of a larger Apollo 11 moonwalk restoration project that the U.S. space agency plans to complete in September.

NASA brought in Lowry Digital, a Burbank, California firm that specializes in restoring old Hollywood films and video, to restore the Apollo 11 footage. Apollo-era engineers who helped produce the original live TV broadcast assisted in the effort by uncovering the best broadcast-format video from a number of sources, including a copy of a tape recorded at NASA's video switching center in Sydney, Australia, and kinescopes found in film vaults at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The restored footage, although primitive by today's standards, is certainly a lot clearer. Neil Armstrong's short hop off the Lunar Excursion Module's ladder onto the powdery moon surface, for instance, shows details of the astronaut's spacesuit and movements that are a washed-out blur in the original video.

Space buffs will love this stuff. I know I do.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com .

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