Apollo 11 Landing’s 40th Anniversary Celebrated, New Footage Released

Forty years ago today, on July 21, 1969 humans reached the moon for the first time.  Astronaut Neil Armstrong from the cockpit of NASA’s Apollo 11 Lunar Lander leaped into history books with the famous words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

The mission was the third to the moon, but the first to land, a significant milestone (Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 had reached Moon orbit).  It would be succeeded by 5 more manned Apollo missions and then decades without manned spaceflight to the celestial body.  In honor of the anniversary, crewmembers aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, currently docked with International Space Station, will complete a 6.5 hour spacewalk.

Astronauts Dave Wolf and Tom Marshburn will complete the space walk.  Meanwhile ISS residents Gennady Padalka and Frank DeWinne will enjoy less ceremonious duties — repairing the Waste Hygiene Compartment toilet in the space station’s Destiny laboratory.  An important pump in the toilet failed Sunday.

The Endeavour’s launch was delayed several times due to weather.  At last in space, the Shuttle’s crew will work to complete construction of Japan’s Kibo space laboratory during the 17 day voyage.

In other Apollo 11 anniversary news, partially restored versions of the compressed signal sent to Mission Control in Houston from three ground receiving stations in California and Australia were released on Friday. 

The video was not the fabled “lost” moon tapes some had hoped for — those tapes of the high quality raw feeded were apparently taped over on accident.  In the 1970s and 1980s NASA had a shortage of tapes due to lack of budget and taped over approximately 200,000 of its tapes — the high-quality footage was apparently among those lost.  The newly released footage does add more details than the existing videos, such as Neil Armstrong’s face visor, too blurry to be seen in the original video.  A reflection can be seen in the visor.

The restoration is costing $230,000 and the released footage represents 40 percent of the final project.  Perhaps to silence would-be moon landing conspiracy theorists, NASA senior engineer Dick Nafzger, who’s in charge of the restoration project remarked, “There’s nothing being created; there’s nothing being manufactured.”