Original Apollo 11 landing videotapes sell for $1.8M


VCRs didn’t actually exist when the primary males walked on the moon, however NASA was forward of the curve and recorded the occasion for posterity on videotapes — which simply sold at auction for $1.8 million. The Hasselblads could have captured extra element, however there’s nothing else on this planet fairly like these tapes.

On July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Lunar Module and onto the floor of the Moon, beneath the watchful eye of a digital camera custom-made by Westinghouse for the aim. It was mounted simply outdoors the hatch so Aldrin might flip it on and set up a connection earlier than he and Armstrong carried out their well-known descent of the LM ladder.

The digital camera, which was later indifferent and set on a tripod to seize the opposite floor actions, was transmitting 10 frames per second over the LM’s high-gain antenna again to Parkes Observatory in Australia. There they have been recorded onto a set of large-format reel-to-reel videotape, then retransmitted to Houston, the place they have been recorded to 2-inch Quadruplex videotape on an Ampex VR-660B. After all it was then formatted for TV and despatched out to the world as properly.

Sadly, the unique Australian slow-scan tapes have been apparently later reused for different functions, in most likely probably the most egregious taping-over incident of all time. Meaning the Ampex tapes have been the very best recognized movement image recording of Apollo 11’s lunar EVAs.

Sadly once more, these unique tapes have been bought for $217.77 at a authorities surplus public sale in 1976 as a part of quite a lot of over a thousand different reels of Ampex videotape clearly regarded as now not wanted. The purchaser, Gary George, was an intern at NASA’s Johnson House Heart, and he had purchased the tapes as a result of he thought he might make a little bit of scratch re-selling them to TV stations.

Thankfully for everybody, George seen that three of the tapes had labels studying “APOLLO 11 EVA | July 20, 1969.” These, he reasoned, may be value retaining. Seems they have been greater than two hours of uncooked footage, together with “One small step for man” and every part else that the world noticed transpire reside, however in higher high quality than every other copy on Earth. As Sotheby’s places it:

The current videotapes are the one surviving first-generation recordings of the historic moon stroll, and are sharper and extra distinct than the few tapes which have survived from the modern community tv broadcasts – all of which endured some lack of video and audio high quality with every successive transmission from microwave tower to microwave tower.

Right here’s a clip:

Quick ahead 30 years and the tapes have been lastly introduced out of storage for Apollo 11’s 40th anniversary, the place they have been proven for under the second time since he purchased them in 1976, and digitized for posterity. They have been performed another time by Sotheby’s consultants whereas verifying these artifacts for public sale over the weekend.

Tape is in no way indestructible and it’s wonderful that these are in such nice situation; that and the fervor surrounding all issues Moon lately will need to have contributed to the tapes lastly going for $1.82 million, almost 4 occasions the half-million that the public sale home had predicted. Gary George made out fairly properly on that surplus purchase.

After all the purchaser has not but revealed themselves, however maybe within the close to future we’ll discover that it is among the many billionaires bothered with house insanity who needed so as to add this distinctive piece of media to their assortment. And maybe they are going to be beneficiant sufficient to share it for public viewing — although truthfully, the digital copy must be almost indistinguishable.

Different objects bought at public sale for a complete of a whole lot of 1000’s extra {dollars} are some signed Apollo 11 memorabilia, some unique Apollo management panels from Kennedy’s Firing Room 1, and the primary and final pages from the precise Apollo 11 flight plan that flew on the mission, which bought for about $300Okay by themselves. With luck these of us with out disposable revenue within the 7-figure vary will have the ability to view these as properly.


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