Nasa officials are hunting videotapes of the moon landing in 1969 hopeful modern technology can produce sharper images of the event.
The video, including footage of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon, was transmitted from the moon to tracking stations in California and Australia.
The images were sent to Houston, and when seen by the world, were degraded.
Space veterans believe the original recordings are at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.
"I would like to clarify the tapes are not lost, which implies they were badly handled, misplaced and are gone forever. That is not the case," John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia, said.
Sarkissian rejected suggestions of wrongdoing by NASA. "The archiving of the tapes was simply a lower priority during the Apollo era," he said.
In a paper published in May, Sarkissian wrote that the use of digital processing techniques on the tapes would make it "possible to recover the original high quality TV of the first lunar EVA (extra-vehicular activity) and make it available to the public for the first time".
"The Apollo 11 mission represents a defining moment in human history," Sarkissian wrote. "For the sake of posterity and the benefit of future generations, it is imperative that the search for the Apollo 11 magnetic data tapes be more vigorously pursued."