1969: “In event of Moon Disaster”

‘On 18th July 1969, as the world waited anxiously for Apollo 11 to land safely on the surface of the Moon, speechwriter William Safire imagined the worst case scenario as he expertly wrote the following sombre memo to President Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. Its contents: a contingency plan, in the form of a speech to be read out by Nixon should astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become stranded on the moon, never to return, followed by some brief instructions relating to its broadcast. Luckily for all those involved, the memo was never needed.’

- Letters of Note


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Goggles aficionado. Retronaut’s founder and curator.

5 Responses

  1. CatM

    Oh that’s quite lovely. I got a little misty even though I know it all turned out all right.

  2. Paco

    Very powerful. I’m reminded of when Reagan unfortunately had to make a similar speech in the wake of the Challenger disaster.

  3. lepetitrobo

    I’m sure I’ve seen film of Nixon reading this. It must have been on one of the Moon documetary DVDs, I can’t remember which though.

  4. reynard61

    This isn’t really that unusual. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had a speech ready in case the D-Day landings failed. And I’m pretty sure that most Presidents have a speechwriter have an “Oops!” speech prepared for if the worst happens during an important event. (Unfortunately, Dubya didn’t seem to have anything except an “I-reject-your-reality-and-substitute-my-own-bad-propaganda” speech after it was clear that there were no nukes in Iraq.)


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