Neil Armstrong's Moon Boot Prints

Remember the closeup picture of Armstrong's imprinted footprint on the moon? These struck me as ethereal echoes, anticipatory foot prints from the adventurous arc of exploration.


Something about it just draws me in. I can imagine them glowing from a diffused backlight.


As I was in flight today, I was wondering if the proxy bid I had left behind in the auction would suffice. It barely did, as I excitedly learned on landing.


Does anyone have tips on x-ray film preservation, display (light box suggestions), and high-res digitization (flatbed scanner tricks)?


Lot Description:

A vintage 11”x 14” X-ray of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong’s lunar EVA spacesuit boots dated 7-7-69, only 9 days before the launch. Excellent condition. This X-ray was taken as a last minute check to see if there were any foreign objects that could compromise the integrity of the spacesuit during the mission, such as broken off tips of needles that were used in the stitching process. The X-ray was taken and inspected at the time by a man named Jack Weakland, who stored it for NASA during and after the Apollo program.

  • vennettaj 4y somebody playing with your phone? :)
  • Steve Jurvetson 4y

    Flickr is messing with me now! This could not have been a phone glitch as I am just using email to post and browser to comment. Rather, their servers burped in a way I have not seen before and reposted my old comments from yesterday. [update - I deleted the ghost post]

    PhotonQ - who is that little dude? :)
  • Franck Michel 4y

    Too funny!
  • Steve Jurvetson 4y

    Nice.... those boots were made for walking!
  • PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE 4y

    Steve. That' s Neil Armstrong doing the Moon walk... ON the moon... being capture FROM the Earth through an X ray telescope... of course !!! O=)

    (Remind me of TED talk Nick Veasey: Exposing the invisible )
  • solerena 4y

    Very cool one and where are good news from TEDx Brussels? A day in the deep future? With some frenchy magic:D where will the future lead us?
    just found this:
  • Wolfram Burner 3y

    Very cool! Glad your bid got it.
  • Steve Jurvetson 3y

    just read a fun Apollo 11 passage on the plane ride back from How Apollo Flew to the Moon, 2011, p.307.
    "In the view of the public, the defining moment of the event would be when a human footprint deformed the lunar dust. This would have a human dimension; there would be a personal link to the hearts of all people who left footprints on Earth and a sense of the frailty of a mere human stepping out on a hostile alien world."
    And Spaceaholic shared a cool CT scan of a complete A7L suit:
    A7L suit x-ray
  • Jim Rees 3y

    I stopped by the Neil Armstrong Museum in Wapakoneta this morning but it was closed so we just looked at the Gemini and Apollo capsule mockups in the parking lot.
  • solerena 3y

    Wow! CT scan of sorts:)
  • Reshma Beeranthbail 3y

    Loved, loved this post! Gave me goosebumps!
  • manatez 3y

    Are the xrays worth anything???
  • Steve Jurvetson 3y

    like most collectables or art, it depends who you ask... They were the highlight of a recent space auction and several bidders thought so.
  • Steve Jurvetson 3y

    I am thinking of printing a high-res copy of the film, perhaps inverted using the x-ray as a negative:

    Neil Armstrong Moon Boot Inversion

    And I'd keep the original in safe storage. Anyone know of a good way to generate prints from a14x17" x-ray film? Or a way to configure a flatbed scanner for a good copy which we could flip in photoshop? (There are service bureaus for this, but I'm not sure what to look for)

    For the curious, here are some of the details from my friend Tom
    The base film is polyester. I will spare you the production process details, but the key is the emulsion. There are a number of compounds here, the key being silver halide salts and chelates. Depending upon the X-ray source (Which target band you are generating radiation from. Copper K-alpha, Aluminum, etc. they all have unique spectral lines that have varying absorption and use depending upon what you are imaging. ) the emulsions are modified. The emulsion is your biggest concern. Almost all are fairly UV sensitive, as is the polyester, so first thing first, is UV light. Fluorescent lights can be some of the worst offenders here.

    The emulations are mostly sensitive to Oxygen, more than anything, but other reducing agents can have an equal effect. The big concern is changes into eh silver oxidation states (+1 +2) Nitrogen gas would be the best, if you could seal them in a bag, as it is mostly inert, but will make viewing difficult. Be careful with the bags, as many have plasticizers in them, in particular the blown film materials. Light boxes are some of the worst things you can do, especially with the fluorescent backlighting. Clearly sunlight is also bad juju and should be avoided at all cost.

    On the film there is a manufacturer and a lot and batch number for the emulsion used in the coating. Knowing the emulsion will tell you a lot more about what you need to consider. Finally, there is a coating on top of the emulsion after development. Older technology used a variety of polymers. This could also be a Kodak film.

    I would recommend making a duplicate of them, and then displaying the duplicate, and storing the original in a nitrogen filled bag, with a desiccant, and then storing it in a refrigerated environment sealed from light sources. The low temperature will also help with natural equilibrium shifts associated with side reactions of the emulsion and will also reduce diffusion in to the emulsions.
  • Jim Rees 3y

    If it were me, I'd put it on a flatbed scanner. 14×17 is big but you should be able to find one. Any scanner that big will have software with a "film negative" setting. If you can't find one that big, scan in pieces and stitch with hugin or similar. Yes, the scanner light emits UV, but one scan isn't going to hurt.

    And unless something changed since I took chemistry, oxygen is an oxidizer, not a reducer.
  • Steve Jurvetson 3y

    yeah, he probably means oxidizer. Thanks for the scanner tip
  • Steve Jurvetson 3y

    P.S. I was flipping through Norman Mailer's Moonfire last night and was pleasantly surprised to this this on p.174

    Moonfire p.174

    Looking up Lotzmann's name (from the credit) led to this tidbit in the ALSJ:
    "This x-ray was taken on July 7, 1969 by Jack R Weakland who worked in the NASA x-ray lab from 1968 to 1979 and told Ulli Lotzmann in 2002 that 'he x-rayed everything from pipe welds to the astronaut moon boots, PGA suits etc. One purpose of this x-ray was to determine and verify that there were no sharp, foreign objects imbedded in the cloth - that is, needle points, pins etc. - that could puncture the pressure suit.' Scan by Ulrich Lotzmann."
  • Steve Jurvetson 3y

    Neil Armstrong takes one giant leap to the other side.

    May he rest in peace, ensconced with the sublime smile of symbolic immortality.

    And in a surreal nod to his disdain for commercial exploitation of his good name, the advertising on the Washington Post obituary failed for me:
    Neil Armstrong
  • Steve Jurvetson 2y

    and a tribute of Armstrong memories for his birthday...
    Happy Birthday Neil Armstrong
  • Steve Jurvetson 2y

    and Fast Company just a writeup on the Apollo X-Ray exhibit at the Smithsonian:
    Ghostly X-Rays Of NASA Spacesuits

    "A series of rarely seen X-rays on view at the National Air and Space Museum reveal the mechanical workings of decades-old spacesuits in high relief. Thing is, they don’t look so different from what today’s astronauts wear. Interestingly, this is not to say NASA has let progress fall to the wayside--it actually means that the first spacesuit creators may have simply nailed it.

    Glove design has changed the most since the space race era--it’s gone through six redesigns--yet, or perhaps because, it’s the part of the suit that garners the bulk of complaints.

    And the least-changed feature? The boot. (Oddly enough, this is the category that’s arguably changed the most in areas like sports and terrestrial exploration, like mountain climbing.) Because no one has walked on another surface since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, NASA hasn’t needed to upgrade the boot’s shape or the silicone that was chosen for its lunar dust-repelling qualities. But Lewis predicts that the astro-boot will see a boost soon: “They’ll probably be planning for the next walk on another surface, be it a moon asteroid or Mars, and will look at different materials that will be easier to clean and maintain.”
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Taken on January 23, 2012
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