The Eagle Has Landed

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it.

He said, “Because it is there.”

Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.

And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

President Kennedy announcing the aim of a moon landing by the end of 1969 – Rice University, Texas – 1962

This week as we look back on what is surely one of the greatest achievements of mankind, McLeod Governance takes a journey down the path of an alternative universe that – thankfully – never came to bear.

In 233 words that were lost to the world for 30 years lies a fascinating insight into the extent of scenario planning that accompanied Apollo 11’s voyage into immortality.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.

The following speech, revealed in 1999, was prepared by President Nixon’s then speechwriter, William Safire, to be used in the event of a disaster that would maroon the astronauts on the moon:

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.

**

We often hear of detailed contingency planning.

In writing this speech we see not an acknowledgement of potential failure but a preparedness for all outcomes.

How many organisations – decades after this momentous event – can say that their contingency plans are as extensive.

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