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Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits


Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits

WASHINGTON  – The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.

NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon.

The full set of recordings, being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital, will be released in September. The preview is available at www.nasa.gov.

NASA admitted in 2006 that no one could find the original video recordings of the July 20, 1969, landing.

Since then, Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who oversaw television processing at the ground-tracking sites during the Apollo 11 mission, has been looking for them.

The good news is he found where they went. The bad news is they were part of a batch of 200,000 tapes that were degaussed

— magnetically erased — and re-used to save money.

“The goal was live TV,” Nafzger told a news conference.

“We should have had a historian running around saying ‘I don’t care if you are ever going to use them — we are going to keep them’,” he said.

They found good copies in the archives of CBS news (CBS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and some recordings called kinescopes found in film vaults at Johnson Space Center.

Lowry, best known for restoring old Hollywood films, has been digitizing these along with some other bits and pieces to make a new rendering of the original landing.

Nafzger does not worry that using a Hollywood-based company might fuel the fire of conspiracy theorists who believe the entire lunar program that landed people on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972 was staged on a movie set or secret military base.

“This company is restoring historic video. It mattered not to me where the company was from,” Nafzger said.

“The conspiracy theorists are going to believe what they are going to believe,” added Lowry Digital Chief Operating Officer Mike Inchalik.

And there may be some unofficial copies of the original broadcast out there somewhere that were taken from a NASA video switching center in Sydney, Australia, the space agency said. Nafzger said someone else in Sydney made recordings too.

“These tapes are not in the system,” Nafzger said. “We are certainly open to finding them.”

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DNA shows body of slain militant not Noordin Muhammad Top


DNA shows body of slain militant not Noordin Muhammad Top

JAKARTA, Indonesia – A suspected militant slain during a 16-hour siege with counterterrorism forces last week was not Indonesia‘s most-wanted militant Noordin Muhammad Top, police said Wednesday.

Tests comparing the body’s DNA with members of Noordin’s family came back negative, said Eddy Saparwoko, head of the national police victim identification unit.

Noordin, a Malaysian, has been blamed for a series of deadly al-Qaida-funded attacks in Indonesia since 2003 and is the prime suspect in twin suicide hotel bombings in Jakarta on July 17 that killed seven people.

Last month’s attacks ended a four-year lull in terrorism in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. Bombings have killed more than 250 people in Indonesia since 2002, most of them on the resort island of Bali, where a 2002 attack killed 202 people.

“The DNA test didn’t match with Noordin’s family,” Saparwoko told a nationally televised press conference Wednesday.

Local media had reported that Noordin, a self-proclaimed al-Qaida commander who has eluded capture in Indonesian and Malaysia since 2001, was slain in a gunbattle with security forces.

But Saparwoko said the man who died in the shootout at a farmhouse in central Java on Saturday was a florist, identified only as Ibrohim. He made floral arrangements at the J.W. Marriott Hotel and Ritz-Carlton, where suicide bombers attacked last month during breakfast, killing themselves and wounding more than 50 others.

Chief national police spokesman Nanan Sukarna identified Ibrohim as “a planner and arranger of the bombings” and said that five other suspects in the blasts remain at large, including Noordin.

Ibrohim, who worked in the hotels at least two years prior to the July bombings, began scouting the targets three months in advance and smuggled explosives in through a basement cargo dock a day before the strikes, Nanan said, showing newly-released security camera footage.

The grainy images show a lone man driving a small pickup truck into the J.W. Marriott Hotel and unloading what police said were three containers of explosives, apparently after skirting all security checks.

The video also showed Ibrohim leading the suicide bombers, one of them an 18-year-old high school graduate, through the hotels on July 8, apparently in a rehearsal for the attacks plotted from two rented safe houses on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta.

“We know him. He worked as a third-party florist,” said Allan Orlob, head of security for the U.S.-owned J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton 5-star hotels.

Ibrohim resigned the morning of the bombings, Orlob told The Associated Press on Wednesday, and left only a letter to his employer in which he asked that part of his last pay check be used to repay several people who loaned him money.

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