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On Apollo 15, 16, and 17 NASA filmed the Lunar Module taking off and leaving the moon. With no-one on the moon how could the the camera move to follow it and who brought the exposed film back to Earth?

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    $\begingroup$ They simply did not use a film camera to show the lunar module ascending from lunar surface, they used a TV camera with direct transmission to Earth. A film camera could be used from the ascent stage of the lunar module. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Dec 31 '18 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How was the Apollo lunar liftoff video transmitted to Earth? $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Dec 31 '18 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexHajnal the problem is not if the questions are different, but if the answers are different. The answer there answered this question. Now we have essentially identical answers both there and here, and in general that's the kind of thing that should be avoided. Now that there are three answers here, if this question isn't closed, it might be good instead to close the other question and direct those readers to all of these answers. Directing future readers to the best answers is one of the things we should always keep in mind, along with getting the current OP to the best answers as well $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 31 '18 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I believe Kurt's answer is correct and not a dupe but I'll have to check the link to be sure. If that answer is correct it should be expanded upon. I'll check when I'm at a real computer. $\endgroup$ – Alex Hajnal Dec 31 '18 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ Related: space.stackexchange.com/questions/15081/… $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 1 at 0:48
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They didn't use film for this. A video camera was installed on the Lunar Rover Vehicle. This camera could be controlled from Mission Control and it could send its video directly to Earth.

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It depends on which "film" and mission you are referring to. (The original question referred to "the first moon landing". Later edits refer to the last 3 landings.)

For the first moon landing, Apollo 11, the lift off was filmed with a motion picture camera inside of lunar module looking out the window. Obviously they carried that camera home with them and develop the film after returning to Earth. (The landing was filmed the same way: camera pointing through the window.)

Apollo 11 lift off from the Moon filmed from inside the lunar module Above screen capture of Apollo 11 lift-off from this video, filmed from inside the lunar module

For the last three missions, Apollo 15, 16, and 17, those were recorded from the TV camera on the lunar rover and used video transmission. No film and no processing was involved.

Apollo 17 lift off from the Moon recorded from the rover Above screen capture of Apollo 17 lift-off from this video, recorded from the rover by remote control

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  • $\begingroup$ If no film was used, I would prever to avoid the word 'filmed'. There should be other words for the use of a video camera. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jan 3 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ While it may be preferred that the term be avoided @Uwe, unfortunately filming is the common term to describe what one does with a a moving picture camera. Videoing is already used to describe recording a broadcast, as opposed to filming with a video camera (and that wouldn't be generic either). Perhaps you could get some suggestions on the English language stack? $\endgroup$ – JCRM Jan 3 at 20:57
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Elizabeth Howell — Universe Today 12/16/14 11:20am https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-nasa-captured-this-iconic-footage-of-apollo-17-leav-1671650186 provided the explanation also supplied by Uwe, above. It was a live TV/video feed from the LRV (lunar rover). Repeated on several missions.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi Kurt. This is a good start on an answer. Like the text you linked to suggests, there was a bit more to than just a remote camera feed. The best source (also linked to from that article) is probably this oral history transcript (last 2 paras of p. 60 and first of p. 61) describes briefly of how it was done. Could you could expand your answer a bit to explain how it was done (i.e. what Edward Fendell and Harley Weyer did), perhaps with a quote or two from that doc? Thanks for your answer and welcome! $\endgroup$ – Alex Hajnal Jan 1 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the comments and suggestions, Alex. There are amazing researchers here. As an academic librarian, I know a literate response when I see one! $\endgroup$ – Kurt W. Wagner Jan 1 at 13:51
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Attached to the lunar module (ditched) NASA remotely controlled a TV camera routing feed through the crew module.

Could also use long range antennas.

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