Dark ultimatum NASA would have left Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin with if the moon landing failed
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NASA and former American president Richard Nixon had a dark contingency plan in place for if the 1969 moon landing had failed.
On 16 July 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin Jr. successfully became the first men to land on the celestial body.
Whilst taking their first steps completed John F. Kennedy’s 1961 goal of ‘landing on the moon’, the pair were still required to make the return trip home.
Prior to the launch of Apollo 11, it’s reported that astronaut and Apollo 8 commander, Frank Borman, had told senior presidential speechwriter, William Safire, to prepare for the pair's death.
Borman told him: “You want to be thinking of some alternative posture for the president in the event of mishaps, like what to do for the widows.”
While Safire reportedly feared the plan would bring 'bad luck', he still delivered a doomsday speech on behalf of NASA, titled ‘In Event of Moon Disaster’.
If the astronauts were marooned on the Earth’s only natural satellite, Nixon would open his speech by saying: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”
The leader would then call both Armstrong and Aldrin ‘brave’ before stating that they were ‘laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal’.
If the pair were unable to return to Earth, NASA’s secret contingency plan would see all communication being cut, so that they could die on their own terms.
It was also stated that Safire’s secret contingency plan would see them receiving a call from a religious leader - which would see the US following the same procedure as when sailors were buried at sea.
The priest would first commend the duo’s souls to the ‘deepest of the deep’ before reciting The Lord’s Prayer.
Luckily, there was no need for Nixon to deliver the dark speech as Armstong and Aldrin returned to Earth, with the latter still alive to tell the tale today.
The first man to set foot on the moon, Armstrong, unfortunately, died due to complications from coronary bypass surgery in 2012 at the age of 82.
One Reddit user wrote: “This plan is not very nice.”
A second questioned: “Why do I feel like they only came to this decision so we could pretend they died bravely and not crying and begging in their last moments.”
“There was an alternative speech written for Nixon in case of this exact situation, it’s beautiful in a way,” replied another.
A fourth said: “Imagine if that happened and NASA tried to pretend that they had never gone to the moon in the first place. All the conspiracy theorists would be claiming yes we did go to the moon, look at the evidence!