On July 20 1969, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made history for all of humankind as they set foot on the Moon. While the mission turned out to be a resounding success with the pair (accompanied by Michael Collins who ferried the astronauts to the Moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission) making a safe return, there was always bound to be fear they would not make it home. Now, a speech penned by President Richard Nixon and speechwriter William Safire has emerged which details what would have been said had they perished on the lunar surface.
The speech, found in the National Archives, begins with the blunt headline: “In Event of a Moon Disaster”.
The note stated: “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.”
After stating that the men will be mourned, with no mention of Michael Collins, President Nixon said that whenever humanity “looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”
Thankfully, the mission was a resounding success and 50 years on, NASA is set to celebrate the historic achievement.
Now the space agency is looking to put humans on the Moon for the first time since 1972.
NASA has decided it has unfinished business on our lunar satellite and wants to set up a permanent base on the Moon, with the missions hopefully taking place in 2024.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine made the announcement that he wants to set up a lunar colony and called on “the best and brightest of American industry to help design and develop “human lunar landers”.
The base would be used as a checkpoint between Earth and Mars while also allowing astronauts to study the moon in close detail.
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