The XX Factor

NASA Admits to Sitcom-Worthy Goof

It’s a scene you’ve watched in countless sitcoms. The dude plops on the couch to see a tape of that incredible sports game he missed, and has been talking about watching for days. And just when it’s getting to the good part, the tape cuts out, and, curses! , it seems that the pesky sister-in-law who has already overstayed her welcome taped over it with her aerobics lesson!

Well, apparently such mishaps affect multi-billion-dollar organizations, too. In a goof that seems hilariously amateur for an operation with a yearly budget of $17.6 billion-and one that is sure to make conspiracy theorists absolutely giddy-NASA has admitted that they accidentally taped over the original footage of the moon landing . Um, oops. The tapes, which NASA confessed to losing track of in 2006, were recently discovered to be “part of a batch of 200,000 tapes that were degaussed-magnetically erased-and re-used to save money.”

Man, it’s tough to be NASA right now. Endeavor’s finally off , but it took a month and five failed attempts-delays that could hurt the goal of finishing the space station by 2010 . And now this? It would be funny, if it weren’t taxpayer money funding such “D’oh”-inspiring slip-ups … and if this weren’t sure to lead to another 40 years of fanatical speculations about what really happened on July 20, 1969.

Photograph by Getty Images.