If the first men on the moon had become stranded, President Nixon would have given this speech written 49 years ago

Key Points
  • There was a possibility NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would not be able to return from the surface of the moon.
  • White House speechwriter Bill Safire penned the address "In event of moon disaster" on July 18, 1969.
  • The speech was never read thanks to the mission's success. 
The moon seen from the International Space Station on July 9, 2018. 
Alexander Gerst | NASA

White House speechwriter Bill Safire penned the address "In event of moon disaster" on July 18, 1969 – 49 years ago Wednesday.

The address was for President Richard Nixon to read in the event from the astronauts of Apollo 11 became stranded on the Moon.

From Apollo 11's three man crew, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went down to the surface of the moon while Michael Collins remained behind. Armstrong and Aldrin might not have been able to return to the mission's lunar orbiter, where Collins was waiting. The speech was written in preparation for that possibility but the NASA mission's rousing success means it was never read.

Read the full speech:

To H. R. Haldeman

From: Bill Safire July 18, 1969.


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.

@NASA Today in 1969, the 363-feet tall Saturn V rocket launches for Apollo 11 - our first mission to land @NASA_Astronauts on the Moon. This giant leap paved the way for future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Details:

This Day in History, July 16, 2018
This Day in History, July 16, 2018