Moments in History

Mysteries of the Moon

apollo11 launch

This afternoon I am going to run the first of a couple of posts that I have been kicking around for quite some time now, but just have never gotten around to. (Be sure to tune in next week for more!) The Professor’s User Input on the question of the current state of NASA and the future thereof reminded me of them. First up, when we remember back to the space race it’s culmination with the Moon landing, I think that we tend to view it as a period of triumph and success. But I think it is important to recall that at the time, the neither the success of these ventures nor the victory over the Russians in the Cold War were in any way assured. When it came to the Moon landing, did you ever wonder what sort of back up plans might have been in place in the event of mission failure?

The possibility had been considered that a problem with the lunar lander could have stranded the intrepid astronauts on the Moon, and a memo outlining actions to be taken and the speech that the president would make if such an unfortunate incident occurred were written.  The previously unpublished documents were found by LA Times columnist Jim Mann, in a file titled, “IN THE EVENT OF MOON DISASTER.”

President Richard Nixon would have informed the country that night on television:

Before giving the speech, the President would have made telephone calls to the “widows to be” to offer condolences. After final goodbyes, and perhaps recommendations to the astronauts on how to close their lives, the plans called for Mission Control to “close down communications” with the Lunar Module. In a public ritual likened to burial at sea, clergyman would then have commended their souls to “the deepest of the deep”. (

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