An address to the nation to be read by President Richard Nixon should the Apollo 11 astronauts become stranded on the moon,
To: H. R. Haldeman
From: Bill Safire
July 18, 1969.
IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.
PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT:
The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.
AFTER THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT, AT THE POINT WHEN NASA ENDS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE MEN:
A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to “the deepest of the deep,” concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.
They wouldn’t even try to go get them back? Like, send up another shuttle and throw out a rope? We’d be sitting down here looking up and they’d be spelling out “HELP US” with moon rocks.
We didn’t have the resources. It wasn’t as simple as sending up a shuttle. Setting up a mission takes months of planning, construction, calculation. There was no way to help them.
Also, even if space shuttles had been available, those craft are designed for short-range travel between the Earth and the artificial satellites in low orbit. They also wouldn’t be able to land on the moon, since shuttles use atmosphere to control their descent and a runway to roll to a stop. Even if it could land, a shuttle would need a rocket booster to escape the moon’s gravity.
Presumably the reason that only two astronauts are mentioned here is that Michael Collins, the third astronaut in the lunar orbiter, would not have been stranded by whatever misfortune befell the two on the surface, and would have been able to return to Earth. I’m sure there was a similar statement prepared in the event that all three astronauts had been lost on the return trip.
Right on all points! Love someone who knows their NASA history!
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