It is an unfortunate fact that things don’t always seem as important, at the time, as they later become. So it was with the missing Apollo 11 landing footage tapes, which, were they not lost, contain a far superior recording of the iconic first step for man and giant leap for mankind. These recordings, “a highly specialized format that appeared to have limited value in the pre-digital age”, were stored and forgotten in the 1970s, possibly never to be seen again.
In an uncertain time for future NASA funding, crisp Aldrin and Armstrong images would be perfect to help excite the present generations about returning to the Moon, as well as space exploration in general. The commercial opportunities are not to be ignored either; nothing adds the proper punch of inspiration quite as well as a bit of spaceflight footage. No matter the age, mankind is inclined to look up.
“Maybe somebody didn’t have the wisdom to realize that the original tapes might be valuable sometime in the future,” she said. “Certainly, we can look back now and wonder why we didn’t have better foresight about this.”
— Washington Post
Space artifacts of all kinds, including photos and video footage, strike a particularly resonant chord with the public; the Air & Space Museum receives a steady stream of visitors, come to gawk at the evidence of great achievements. Even an acrylic-encased lunar sample disc, with “rocks” no bigger than gravel and dust, draws a constant crowd of the admiring and inquisitive. It is the physical manifestation of our dreams when we look to the heaven; dust, perhaps, but real dust, dust from the Moon. Laying your hand upon an iron meteorite, knowing it thundered down from above, wondering where it has been and what it has seen… these are touchstones for the public.
As SpaceRef reported today, The Space Foundation continues to acquire space artifacts to be incorporated into the sculpture in future, including pieces of the Faith 7 Mercury capsule heat shield and medallions containing metal from the Apollo 8 spacecraft and Columbia.
Clearly, the artifacts of space are as inspiring today as they were in the beginning. Now if only NASA could find that missing footage….