MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Tomorrow is the Moon landing anniversary. It is a day I dread because someone always asks me questions as to why I doubt that the Moon landing happened in 1969. I have expressed my doubts on many cable TV shows and was even ambushed by an astronaut who came to me and said on camera that me doubting the Moon landing makes me less of a patriot and that he feels that it is the equivalent of spitting on the graves of those brave men that set foot on the Moon’s surface.
As always, my replies to that accusation always end up on the cutting room floor because I tend to get a bit nasty and reveal the ugly way we got our space program.
Anniversaries and observances of the Moon landing are usually occasions to distort records and to change history ever so slightly to cover up the holes in the narrative.
NASA’s record goes unchallenged and we are distracted by the memory of heroes and the ticker-tape parades. It is anathema to ask why we are no longer shooting for the Moon and why we some 50 years later are so excited to see billionaires take off from earth and only go about 60 miles up.
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson became the first billionaire founder astronaut of the space-set and Jeff Bezos will blast off the anniversary of the Moon landing.
Bezos will be joined by his brother Mark and two other Blue Origin teammates Wally Funk and teenager Oliver Daeme.
82 year old Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, will become the oldest person to go to space.
She was one of the 13 women who passed NASA’s astronaut training program in the 1960s
Oliver Daemen is an 18-year-old physics student from the Netherlands whose father paid for his flight
He only got the coveted seat because another man who paid $28 million for it, dropped out.
Bezos will fly up to 66 miles above the surface of the Earth on the fully autonomous rocket and capsule called New Shepard, sending him 13 miles higher than billionaire rival Sir Richard Branson who flew to space on Sunday, July 11.
It is thrilling to see that private citizens are now blasting off but we cannot forget that while space “joy rides” are a thing in the 21st century– astronauts lifted off of the earth using technology that is less advanced than a toaster oven — to go up 250,000 miles, landed on the Moon and came back without one astronaut dying or being stranded on the Moon.
Amazing, isn’t it?
It is also amazing that just before the moon-shot Neil Armstrong nearly died during a training flight before landing on the Moon, he was command pilot on Gemini 8 – the only NASA mission to be aborted in an emergency.
This, of course, was before Apollo 13.
On May 6, 1968, Armstrong was flying in the lunar landing research vehicle less than 100 feet up when he lost control over it and had to eject. NASA was recording the flight and captured the astronaut ejecting from the vehicle moments before it crashed down and exploded. NASA reported that “the vehicle was a total loss in the ensuing crash.”
If Armstrong had ejected any later, he would have died.
The lunar landing research vehicle, the precursor to the lunar module that he used to land on the moon, was a very different craft from a Navy plane that he was used to flying. In his oral history project, Armstrong described it as looking “like a tin Campbell Soup can sitting on top of some legs.”
Now, billionaires like Branson and Bezos can blast off their phallic egos and the world can forget how hard it was to get to the moon –and yet ho simple it all seems to be thanks to the freshening up of history.
When we talk about arguable man’s greatest achievement creases are covered; the make-up is applied generously. Defects become virtues, if, indeed they were ever there to begin with.
The Moon landing anniversary is always given a vigorous clean-up, with the Cold War finding a back seat when it was, in fact, the main driver.
Things really haven’t changed in the 21st century either– Elon Musk boasts well of going to Mars — Bezos and Branson are playing in the heaven’s distracting us for what is coming– Space is going to not only be a tourist attraction but it will also be one of the biggest fighting domains in the near future.
The Moon will still be an afterthought — Mars is still years away and soon, baby steps for man are going to be giant leaps in war crime.
Truth is in history –and pessimism is the future.
The Moon project was a fundamental political poke at Russia, soaked by competitive drives. The science, rather than the political has come to provide the heavy cosmetics to romanticize what is, at best, an effigy.
When President John F. Kennedy proclaimed his wish for the United States to land a man on the moon and safely return him by the end of the 1960s, we were in the thick of the Cold War.
The Soviets had been making advances in the space race, and paranoia at Red exploits was catching on everywhere. A godless state had launched Sputnik in 1957 and in 1961 put Yuri Gagarin into space.
Yes, they started a space program –and they weren’t in any space race, the United States started that. They were like the fat kid watching an athlete train and said, “Oh yea– I can do that and better!”
Combating the Soviet Union, and communism more broadly, was simply one aspect of an aggrandized fist fight, to be fought on the ground, the seas, and in space.
Domestically, selling the Moon mission was not popular, and the post-landing effort to scrub away voices of opposition in the historical record has been vigorous.
Consistently throughout the 1960s, a majority of Americans did not believe Apollo was worth the cost.
There was also scientific opposition to the space program, at least in so far as it was not balanced.
Earthly concerns were considered more pressing. Civil rights leaders in the United States feared a loss of focus. While a million people gathered along Florida’s Space Coast to watch the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, some 500 protesters, mostly African-American , paid a visit to the Kennedy Space Center carrying signs that read “$12 a day to feed an astronaut, we could feed a child for $8.”
Behind the project lay other dark forces whose roles have been obscured by propagandists of a romantic lunar narrative. The amoral genius that was Wernher von Braun, given the moniker of Missileman, was an illustration that science might well lack an ethical compass, even if it worked.
Werner Von Braun — a man whose rockets tried to reach the stars in World War II but instead kept hitting targets in England.
Tom Lehrer wrote a sing in 1967 where he sang:
“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? / That’s not my department, says Wernher von Braun.”
What mattered was getting the job done with a kind of mechanistic fanaticism: working laborer’s to death in Mittelbau-Dora in making V-2 rockets to target civilians during the Second World War was as worthy as beating the Soviets in the space game.
In Disney’s 1955 television production Man and the Moon, von Braun, the then director of development at the US Army Ballistic Missile Agency, spoke of a nuclear-powered space station that would propel Americans to the moon.
A decade before, von Braun was part of a scooping operation conducted by US personnel to pipeline some of the best and brightest of German science, a process that did much to ensure a good deal of whitewashing of industrialized murder.
A more damning take comes from Wayne Biddle, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Dark Side of the Moon. Biddle frames von Braun as a war criminal with direct involvement in the V-2 slave labor project, and a man who only escaped justice thanks to the efforts of the American government, which was desperate for help in beating the Soviets.
Confronted with the growing power of Stalin’s U.S.S.R., the U.S. Government sanitized von Braun and other Nazi scientists’ images in order to use their skills; to a large extent, the American public went along with it.
In the gathering were the signs of the Cold War to come; the Soviets conducted their own version of Operation Paperclip, plundering the brainboxes of Teutonic engineering. To the victors went the corrupted spoils.
Von Braun was treated and feted, plied with generous budgets and resources. The missiles duly came. He led a team that developed Redstone, the first US ballistic missile capable of propelling a nuclear warhead to distances of 250 miles. Then came the Jupiter-C in 1958, which shot the first US satellite, Explorer 1, into space.
The famed Saturn V rocket was created while von Braun was director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre. The line between concentration camp and the moon landing was established, as was the role of the smooth scientist communicator trading on human wonder.
Colossal human stupidity, and moral shakiness, tend to find ways into the grandiose and the grand. As a species, hubris has proven a common trait. Technological mastery comes torrentially more easily than luminous ethical insight.
The fact that we’re still debating Wernher von Braun’s legacy some 50 years after his rockets put men on the moon speaks to the profound effect he had on America’s image. And while he was undeniably an engineering genius, that this onetime cog in the Wehrmacht died a largely unquestioned American hero speaks to what was perhaps his greatest skill: salesmanship. To survive in Nazi Germany, he sold Hitler a dream of victory through superior technology. Later, he sold the U.S. Army a vision of intercontinental nuclear dominance. But von Braun’s biggest sale of all is apparent in that Disney footage.
To Americans, he sold the dream of men in space and flags on the Moon. And by and large, the nation bought it, no questions asked.
Now to question ethics, or the moon landing itself gets you all sorts of derision. To say that the moon landing was a Cold War illusion to prepare the great void for a future war used to raise eyebrows as well.
No one is willing to believe that the whitewashed Nazi’s were busily using their technological skills to guarantee a scorched earth scenario where both the United States and Russia were ready to pull the trigger for mutually assured destruction.
There has always been the rumor that before Hitler died he told Martin Bormann that he knew that if the Nazis failed in creating a world Reich– that Germans would be rounded up and killed. Hitler believed that if the Nazis lost that no one on earth deserved to live and therefore he charged Bormann with devising a scorched earth plan. That was to get his enemies to destroy each other.
This was called the Odessa Plan.
The Odessa Plan included the safe passage to hardcore Nazis in South and Central America, Mexico and the Middle East, and for transporting Nazi gold, mostly looted treasure from the Reich bank. The third tentacle was a far–reaching one and is responsible for the Cold War and placing Russia and the United States in position of creating Hitler’s vision of a Scorched earth Policy.
Hitler’s spy master Reinhard Gehlen developed the “Org” which consisted of hardcore Nazi spooks surrendering to the allies and then giving them information that would be the seeds of paranoia needed to create the Cold War. Remember, the United States saw the advantage of having Nazis working with the CIA in order to keep the momentum going of the anticommunist crusades.
The Org played a role in the creation of the “missile gap,” providing CIA with reports on Soviet missile developments supposedly based on contacts with German scientists captured by the Russians at the end of the war.
Germans that worked with the Russian scientists also provided information and in the chill of the Cold War, a space race developed.
There were not only warheads being developed by both sides but there was also a plan for a military base on the Moon.
In 1959, the U.S. army published Project Horizon, a study on the practicality of creating a military base in order to “protect potential United States interests on the moon.” The plan was extremely ambitious, with the end of its roadmap proposing a fully operational lunar base by 1967 at the latest.
The building plans were also products of their time. With the nuclear warheads, claymore mines, and various metallic building materials it entailed, this no doubt would have cost a tremendous amount to deliver to the lunar surface. While modern off-world living space designs are often simplistic and designed for efficiency and low cost of launch, the Project Horizon bases were to be outfitted to the max, out of fear of a Soviet attack from Earth. The project never proceeded past its feasibility stages, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower rejected it.
While a militarized space program had originated during the Cold War, it wouldn’t see significant military use until the Vietnam War, where the Air Force Space Command provided support to United States troops through satellite communications.
Star Wars, the popular nickname for Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), was a popular political football in the 1980’s, however it did manage to create ideas that included an electromagnetic grid or dome that could be hyper-connected to a surveillance apparatus, that would also be able to alert and dispatch autonomous war machines to find targets and destroy them.
It also included an advanced satellite system that could control the battlefield from space.
SDI would be a functioning space grid that would track unknowns efficiently.
It was proposed in the 1980’s that the military would us a global wireless network overseeing various sub-networks within the U.S. military. The vision was to have armies of robot tanks on the ground talking to fleets of drones in the sky and unmanned submarines in the sea, all coordinating their activities faster than any human commander ever could.
Humans were to be augmented in order to talk directly to computers — or plug in to advance systems capable of wiping out an enemy.
All this was on the drawing board of the Department of Defense in the 1980’s… and yet it was allegedly shelved.
There is a a mountain of reason to have doubts that any of these programs were shelved. From MK Ultra to Star Wars, DARPA and the Department of Defense have been working on creating generations of potential soldiers that would in the future be able to talk with advanced systems through the auspices of mind enhancement and using the capabilities of the soldier to plug in to neural networks of advanced Artificial Intelligence.
It was not until December of 2019 that President Trump organized the Space Force.
The Air Force Research Laboratory released their “A Primer on Cislunar Space” to the public in late June, with the report specifically being directed towards military personnel–particularly the Space Force–to begin developing plans to expand the force into the cislunar area.
Cislunar space refers to the region of space between Earth and its moon, with translunar space referring to what lies beyond the two celestial bodies.
Up until now, the entirety of the USSF’s operations have been conducted on Earth or in its geostationary range, which is where satellites sit in orbit, but the primer states that this range of interest will begin to increase tenfold as space operations from the U.S. private and public sectors begin. The report is comprehensive and technical, detailing the effects of the celestial bodies’ gravity and orbits as well as sensors used to effectively monitor the region.
The AFRL’s goal with the report was to “educate and inspire”, according to Director of Space Vehicles Directorate Col. Eric Felt. The Space Force and NASA have since entered an agreement of cooperation regarding cislunar technological development, a more recent example being the space monitoring experiment “Cislunar Highway Patrol System”.
The report suggests that as space technology continues to develop and the reality of space colonization efforts grow closer, competition between nations will become inevitable. It acts as an attempt to begin to understand the national security risks that will undoubtedly arise as world powers begin to extend their range of influence outside our biosphere. It could be reasoned that whoever can control the space surrounding Earth may be responsible for the security of everyone who lives on it… an idea that surely is not going to be left up to the private sector.
Systems to sustain life on the Moon have been in development for years, and they are beginning to reach the point where proper proof of concepts are being produced. Humans living permanently outside of Earth is close to being reality, and with it poses a question not easily answered: Who will own the Moon, or even space?
The report would suggest that it would be in the United States’ best interest to be ahead of the curve when it comes to cislunar influence, however, not all would share the same belief. The Space Force has been an object of criticism since its recent inception, with American progressives in particular having a disdain for the program, and even writing letters to current president Joe Biden to target the USSF specifically with military budget cuts. It is often criticized as a tool to militarize space, with any country doing so undoubtedly posing serious threats to the national security of everyone on Earth, suggesting instead to treat the final frontier as a space to test human cooperation rather than might.
While progressives have said that President Trump’s Space Force is a silly idea, it is likely that it will be instrumental to the future national security of any nation that should develop one.
However, since we haven’t even reached the point where we can begin to colonize off-world yet, perhaps a better aim would be to focus on working together to get there before we start trying to figure out how to use space as a battleground.