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A speech not delivered September 23, 2006

Posted by PagMax in history, moon, space.

I was watching a documentary on Apollo 11 mission and they mentioned an interesting fact which I confirmed later by google search.

The chances of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (I have had pleasure to see both of them from 10 feet distance!) returning back from the moon were 1 in 6. (The engine which cranks up the lunar module, failed five or six times before it worked during practice sessions and due to weight constraints, they had only one shot to make it work on the moon!).

So then Honorable president (Not so honorable after watergate scandal!), Richard Nixon asked his speech writer to prepare a speech in case of mishap.  of course, fortunately, the speech never had to be delivered.

What really amuses me is while these two guys were up risking their lives to create history, Nixon wanted to make sure his English sounds poetic enough if he has to deliver the bad news.

Here is the full text of the speech which I found on this website which has some other information as well.

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 their 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 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.

 Another interesting point is what if Nixon had to deliver this speech. How the history would have changed. Would NASA have just moved on to Apollo 12  to give it another shot or would they have just shut down the program. Looking at the history of NASA, may be they would have given it another shot.  However, Apollo-1, Challenger, Columbia disaster were different. Astronauts died almost immediately attempting to do which was already done before. This one, was attempting something which world has never seen before and was watching it live and you just leave two men up there to die of lack of oxygen or by suicide. A completely unprecedented example and I think NASA would have been under lot of pressure to shut the program for ever. In either case, the space development what we see today might  not have been the same.

BTW, I am sure you do know this but just in case, both Neil and Buzz are alive to this day!!


1. shravan - September 23, 2006

Another interesting blog on this is here

2. ruhi - September 24, 2006

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”

This is plain ridiculous…I wonder how would I feel lying in a hospital bed (maybe) knowing that people are writing funeral speeches in the next room!!

What do you think happened with Kalpana Chawla? I believe the people in the control room already knew that there is some serious problem??!

3. shravan - September 24, 2006

Another article about Nixon’s letter. This one’s good.

4. tismarkhan - September 24, 2006

“..This is plain ridiculous…I wonder how would I feel lying in a hospital bed (maybe) knowing that people are writing funeral speeches in the next room!!..”

I know..these things should come from within heart not through a well prepared document..

I have heard that Neil’s first words on moon “A small step for man, Giant leap for mankind..”, was totally extempore..he was given long speeches to speak on moon, but they let him decide and what he said was just beautiful.

“What do you think happened with Kalpana Chawla? ..”
They did see the foam loosing during launch, but the mission director ignored it as a trivial issue. She was later fired…!

(kind of her bad luck bcos foam sheds from every shuttle during launch, this one just went into the wrong place! and only after columbia they started backflipping the shuttle near ISS to examine the tiles for damage)

But during columbia’s return, they [mission control] hardly had any time to understand what happened..it was just quick explosion.

5. shravan - September 24, 2006

They did return so here’s something to celebrate it.

6. shravan - September 26, 2006

What about your articles onthe Indian space program? Are they in the pipeline?

7. tismarkhan - September 26, 2006

they are..! i have all 70s and 80s, but need to do 90s and present ones..or may be i can go by decades…, i will figure out something..

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