NASA refurbishes video of moon landing


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In the next week or so, it may seem as if we've gone back in time. Think of it as a countdown to reliving history that began with the launch of Apollo 11, 40 years ago on July 16.

That one small step for a man immortalized in fuzzy images from the sea of tranquility -- except that now, they are less fuzzy.

"There is nothing being created or manufactured. We are restoring and extracting data in the video," said NASA senior engineer Dick Nafzger.

On this anniversary of the mission's beginning, NASA rolled out a teaser that consists of digital makeovers of the original footage, but in much greater detail.

The agency will spend close to $250,000 on the project by the time it finishes this fall.

Which leads to this question: Why would NASA even do this to its own historical place in the first place? As it turns out, all these years we have not been looking at the originals. Those disappeared in the 1970s. NASA erased them and then used them for other projects.

"We didn't think about the quality. What we thought about was we had gotten to the moon and landed a man on the moon," said NASA senior engineer Jack Boyd.

Boyd helped design those Apollo capsules and is surprised that the tapes would disappear. Back in 1969, he says, researchers worried more about the pragmatics of bringing men back alive than historical significance.

"You could see a man walking on the moon. We weren't too concerned about the quality," said Boyd.

Ultimately, NASA looked all over the world to find the best broadcast copies, and then gave them to a company in Hollywood that restores old films like Star Wars, oddly enough.

Now, we see reflections on faces and better definition within the shadows.

The videos remain a long way from high definition, but on this 40th anniversary, no one is complaining about a cleaner and crisper view of history.

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