Monday, November 10, 2008

NASA had a grim plan, Nixon had a sad speech in case of moon disaster

What if Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the surface of the moon had failed, and the astronauts (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) were stranded up there? According to NASA papers released in 1999 (and reported back then by the BBC), mission control would have switched off the radios and left the astronauts "to die or commit suicide."

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Nixon would have addressed a nation in shock. In fact, he already had a speech prepared. "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace," it began. "They will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown." (
Full text of the speech available at the BBC.)

A rescue mission was simply out of the question. At the time, the fact we made it there in the first place was incredible enough. And expensive. We doubt they had other rockets and moon landing vehicles lined up. Even if they did, could they have made it to the moon before the landing team's oxygen and food ran out? Probably not.

(Image of Apollo 11 LEM returning from the moon's surface courtesy NASA)

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