In July 1969, the world watched as the crew of Apollo 11 successfully entered the lunar orbit, landed, then detonated and returned to Earth. There were dangers at every step of the way, and NASA had backup plans in case anything went horribly wrong – even though NASA could not do much from a distance of 384,403 kilometers. In 1999, William Safire discussed the speech he wrote for President Richard Nixon in case the mission failed. From Safire's article:
The most dangerous part of the journey was not to land the small module on the moon, but to launch it back to the mothership. If that failed, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin could not be saved. Mission Control would have to disrupt communication and make the doomed astronaut starve to death or commit suicide while the world tortures itself.
The Nixon Helpers H. R. Haldeman and Peter Flanigan told me to plan this tragic case. On July 18, 1969, I recommended that "in the event of a lunar catastrophe … the President should call each of the future widows," and upon termination of NASA contact, a clergyman should follow the same procedure as a funeral at sea by holding their own Souls – the deepest of the deepest & # 39; recommend and conclude with the Lord's Prayer. "A draft for a presidential speech was attached.
Here is a scan of the speech:
And here is the text:
IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:
Fate has ordered that the men who have gone to the moon to search in peace remain on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope of their recovery, but they also know that there is hope for humanity in their sacrifice.
These two men lay down their lives in the noblest goal of humanity: the search for truth and understanding.
They are mourned by their families and friends, they will be mourned by their nation, they will be mourned by the people of the world, they are mourned by a mother earth who dared to send two of her sons into the unknown. 19659003] In their Erforsc They moved people around the world to feel one. in their sacrifice, they bind the brotherhood of man closer together.
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times we do the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow and certainly find their way home. The search of man is not denied. But these men were the first, and they will be the first in our hearts.
For every person looking up at the moon in the coming nights will know that there is a corner of another world that is forever humanity.
This story was updated for 2019.