What do you think happened to the moon footage?

Story here.

I’m quite unconvinced that NASA erased the most important footage ever in the history of mankind because they wanted to recycle the tapes. The way I see it, there’s only a few realistic reasons why NASA can’t find the footage.

  1. It was sabotage. Someone destroyed the tapes on purpose and NASA either never knew it, or admitting they know about it will have worse consequences than admitting they erased it.

  2. It’s a cover-up. Maybe there’s something on the footage that’s too politically sensitive to release. There’s a billion reasons to speculate about here, which are all pretty fun to think about but not very likely.

  3. It’s stolen. I can accept the idea that the footage was locked away in some giant warehouse among a million other knickknacks and someone was able to swipe them for the extreme coolness factor without getting caught. I don’t know why NASA would claim to have erased the footage instead of admitting it was stolen, though, so I doubt this theory too.

Anyone else have other ideas? Or do you think NASA actually did purposely erase the tapes to reuse the film?

Bureaucratic stuff-up is always the most obvious explanation.

Maybe they filmed over it thinking copies had been made but a lazy bastard never got around to it and said “Um guys…”


They sent it back to Warner Bros. studios, from whence it came.

  1. It’s lost. It is not an exciting hypothesis, but it seems the most likely. The article states that they think it was overwritten. If you think the tape is overwritten, but don’t know for sure – then it is definitely lost and possibly overwritten (not the other way around).

Personally, I don’t have a lot of interest in seeing a touched-up video.

Lost/mistakenly overwritten.
(“Hey Fred, can I borrow the original Apollo 11 tapes?”
“What? I thought you had them!”
“Me? No. I thought you had them.”
“Crap. Where are they?”
“I don’t know… But… um… remember last month when we needed some blank tapes and found that box of tape in the storage room?”)

And that’s just two people involved. Imagine what could happen in an effort the size of the entire Apollo program…

Rumor has it all the blueprints/plans/etc. for the Saturn V are also gone, they were just thrown out since nobody thought they were worth keeping.

Just a rumour. They are held on microfilm at the Marshall Space Flight Center. However rebuilding would be next to impossible due to the lack of available 1960s components. It would be easier and cheaper to start from scratch.

And I’m with Cunctator concerning the tapes. Conspiracy theorists never cease to amaze me in overlooking the painfully obvious importance human error.

You’re clearly far too young to know, but NBC similarly recycled all the early Johnny Carson Tonight Show tapes. They were taking up expensive air conditioned storage room, and they were simply reused for other shows.

It appears you’re unconvinced because you take it as a given that everyone thought at the time it was the most important footage ever. I think you’ll find that’s a mistaken assumption. Even today, I’d venture that only a very small percentage of mankind would rank it as that important. I find the contention that the tape was simply reused for something else (and thus erased) entirely plausible.

Having worked in tape libraries and TV studios, I’m firmly in support of this theory.

For all anyone will ever know, the Apollo tapes were just a handful of tapes shelved amid tens of thousands of other tapes, and one day, someone doesn’t know what’s in that room and decides to chuck the whole lot and either throws them out because they’re some obsolete format or sends them off to be bulk-erased and re-used.

And trust me - more than once, I’ve found labels on the floor. With time, the adhesive can let go, and you now have a mystery to find a “naked” tape. Hope ya find it before someone else finds the “blank” tape and re-uses it!

47 big rolls of tape. I would be surprised if they were not treated extremely well. Who would want to be the idiot that taped over the moon landing. The tapes have probably been obsolete for decades anyway. I am sure they have upgraded the technology quite a few times in 50-60 years.

If you are talking about Apollo 11, please check your math. 40 years.

I believe that it was discarded or taped over.

As hard as it is to believe this happened a lot. I belong to several TV and old time radio groups. And people there have all this footage, of TV stations, sign off, sign ons, news, local shows, and I asked them, how did they get it.

The answer is always, well I worked at the TV station, and they have to make room so they were gonna throw it out, so I took it.

I know one guy who had original tapes to some TV comedies on CBS. He worked at the studio which produced the show and since it was cancelled after 13 episodes they didn’t want to keep it, and told him to throw it out. So he kept it.

That was back in the early 90s. Now they wouldn’t do that, they’d keep the footage and put it on Hula

A TV comedy while it was happening would not likely be thought of as a historical event. The moon landing on the other hand was known to be huge from the first day. I do not believe anybody would tape over it. They would know better.

As someone who works in a poorly organized department of a labyrinthine organization, I can totally believe it. There are people in this world who think it is entirely appropriate to expect that everyone knows exactly the same things they do, and feel no need to inform them that, hey, by the way, that box of tapes with the faded labels are actually from the moon landing, so please don’t record over them.

A Moon landing Hoax Believer was working in NASA’s tape library at the time. Faced with incontrovertible evidence that we had, in fact, landed on the Moon, he destroyed the tapes.

Not only do they underestimate human ineptitude, they overestimate it by claiming that a whole government agency (and other countries that concede we landed on the moon) could be part of an elaborate conspiracy and keep everyone involved quiet. Do they need look at the news and see the ridiculous amount of CIA and other “top secret” information being leaked?

A long-time Government employee taught me early on how to understand what happens in the Government.
“Never attribute to malice that which can be fully explained by incompetence.”

The first civilization in the history of the world to accomplish that feat and film it as well. To “accidently” erase over the original footage is well just…it’s just…rather pathetic, NASA.