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Video: First spacewalk in high definition

NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 5/5/2008 8:45:30 PM ET 2008-05-06T00:45:30

More than 100 hours of classic footage from NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions have been restored for high-definition television — and will be made available to the world through the space agency's archives.

The HD makeover was performed by the Discovery Channel for "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions," a documentary series due to premiere in June.

The restored film footage and audio tapes are to be presented to NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol during a ceremony hosted by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who flew into orbit himself aboard the shuttle in 1986.

NASA will make the high-definition library available to the public as well as researchers, according to a news advisory for Tuesday's event.

The archive includes dramatic shots of the first American spacewalk, conducted in 1965 by Gemini 4 astronaut Ed White. If White's spacesuit failed, there were few options available for rescuing him, Gemini 4 commander James McDivitt recalled.

"We didn't have a plan. We didn't have a checklist on how you kill your best friend," McDivitt told the filmmakers behind "When We Left Earth."

Among the other highlights are rocket launches, moonshots, the Apollo-Soyuz linkup in 1975 and rarely seen footage from early astronaut training.

"Today those pictures are classic," Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, told the filmmakers. "They're still overpowering today — to realize, No. 1, it's been done, and that we did it. It blew me away."

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