Is This Why the Quality of the Original Moon Landing Video Was So Bad?

NASA has just announced that the following new photo shows the Apollo 11 spacecraft at the site of the first moon landing:

Some people have claimed that the moon landing footage was faked, to fool the Soviets into thinking we had better technological prowess than we actually had at the time. They point to the fact that the footage was low-quality, and apparently was filmed off a monitor displaying the footage from the moon.

And they claim that newly-restored footage of the moon walk is a hoax.

However, Michael Rivero – who used to analyze photographs for NASA (and then worked as a special effects creator for Hollywood movies) – says:

The inclusion of a TV camera for the moon walk was a last second decision. The camera was thrown together out of spare parts (including a Barlow lens for an astronomical telescope from Edmund Scientific). As a result, the ground-based support for video was less than prepared to handle rebroadcasting of the images in all the world’s TV standards.

The original broadcasts (including the one seen in the US) were handled by simply pointing a TV camera in the correct video standard at a long persistence phosphor monitor showing the feed from the Moon. Further complicating matters was that the decision by Armstrong to skip the sleep period and do the moon walk early, which meant that instead of using the dish at Goldstone, which had planned to handle the video feed, the moon walk images were relayed through the dish at Parkes, Australia.

Because of the last second shuffle, the first generation tapes of the moon feed were not preserved at NASA, but fortunately, Parkes had made an extra set which were found in an archive in Australia.

As a side note, the above version appears to have an incorrect aspect ratio. The original TV camera on Apollo was a standard 4×3 aspect and this looks stretched to fit an HD 16×9.

Note: Personally, I know very little about the Apollo 11 flight and the surrounding controversy. I am just sharing Mr. Rivero’s explanation.

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