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What if Apollo 11 had been stranded ?

Posted on Tuesday, 24 July, 2012 | Comment icon 65 comments

Image credit: NASA

What would have happened if the Apollo 11 crew had been unable to take off again from the lunar surface ?

The historic Apollo 11 moon landing was a risky business, when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the surface there was no guarantee that they would be able to lift off again. While engineers did everything in their power to make the craft as reliable as possible there was still a chance that the two men would have ended up stranded there.

Because of this risk, both NASA and President Nixon had a contingency plan in place if the worst were to happen. Fellow orbiting astronaut Michael Collins would have been ordered to return to Earth alone, while Nixon would have made a special announcement in tribute to Armstrong and Aldrin. NASA would have kept in contact with them until the very end and a clergyman would have spoken to them over the radio, commending their souls to the deep.

Fortunately however this plan was never needed, to date every astronaut NASA ever sent to the moon returned alive and well at the end of the mission.

"Ascending from the lunar surface was one of the most important maneuvers on the mission; any problems could leave Aldrin and Armstrong stranded on the moon with no way home."

  View: Full article |  Source: Discovery News

  Discuss: View comments (65)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #56 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 29 July, 2012, 19:16
There is a precedent, although to a Soviet manned flight, not to one from the US. The Soyuz T10-1 accident in 1983, involved a fire and explosion, with the launch escape system blasting the crew with only 2 seconds to spare.
Comment icon #57 Posted by MID on 29 July, 2012, 19:23
Thanks for that. I didn't remember that one!
Comment icon #58 Posted by MID on 29 July, 2012, 19:59
I think we have a resolution to this thread, don't we? If the Apollo 11 crew were stranded on the surface of the Moon. ...They'd have perished there 43 years ago. Mike Collins would be known as the one who came back, and Tranquility Base would be an honored site, a crypt, containing the bodies of two American heroes. And the manned space program may have never been the same again. Fortunately, we don't have to contemplate such a thing.
Comment icon #59 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 29 July, 2012, 20:19
That is true. I have no doubt that NASA would have resolved whatever caused the accident. There would almost certainly have been at least on more test flight of the LM and then another landing attempt made. The USA would have still been the first to the moon albeit missing JFKs target of the end of the decade.
Comment icon #60 Posted by DONTEATUS on 29 July, 2012, 21:43
But then Like Mid said ,We move on ! We Did Land and return, We Will Move on!
Comment icon #61 Posted by MID on 31 July, 2012, 23:26
Well, as far as returning them safely to the Earth as concerned...It would've been, no joy! I can tell you it would've been hell for some time, figuring out how simple vales didn't allow hypergolics rto mix and simply ignite as they were designed to do..upon contact. LM APS was nearly as fool-proof a system as existed. No one ever thought that it wouldn't work!
Comment icon #62 Posted by DONTEATUS on 3 August, 2012, 1:29
I love it when you use those hypergolics wham,Bam, Words Mid ! We could use some of those in Texas ! I have a little job down the road ,It rhymes wit Chick-Fil-a ! Kaboom ! justDONTEATUS
Comment icon #63 Posted by xROCKIEx on 25 August, 2012, 20:37
Luckily, this didn't happen.
Comment icon #64 Posted by MID on 29 August, 2012, 0:56
I think it has become a rather non-topic now folks. It didn't happen. It wasn't likely, and now, one of the men who landed on the Moon in the Summer of '69 is gone. It seems there's nothing to discuss, doesn't it?
Comment icon #65 Posted by MID on 1 September, 2012, 22:47

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