Monday, June 8, 2009

An untold story of Apollo 11: The Silicon Disk

The silicon disk that almost wasn't left behind
on the lunar surface by Buzz Aldrin

Forty years ago, the Apollo 11 astronauts were completing their checklist to leave the Moon when they discovered that they had forgotten something. Buzz Aldrin had already climbed back into the lunar module, Eagle, when Armstrong reminded him about a small package that contained encrypted messages on a tiny disc. Aldrin quickly remembered that he had it in his sleeve pocket, removed it, and threw it onto the Moon's Sea of Tranquility.

The astronauts left the Stars and Stripes, a plaque declaring "We Came in Peace for All Mankind," and a tiny silicon disc with goodwill messages in native languages from world leaders. As U.S. State Department officials scrambled to solicit messages of goodwill from many nations, engineers used the latest technology in 1969 to enshrine the messages on material suitable for the harsh lunar environment. NASA officials also wanted to make it clear that this was an American accomplishment while balancing "good taste" from a world perspective, without implying U.S. sovereignty on the Moon.

One such message from Ivory Coast stated: "I also hope that he would tell the Moon how beautiful it is when it illuminates the nights of the Ivory Coast. I especially wish that he would turn towards our planet Earth and cry out how insignificant the problems which torture men are, when viewed from up there."

Another message from Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago warned: "It is our earnest hope for mankind, that while we gain the Moon, we shall not lose the world."

These are some of the topics that are explored in the acclaimed book "We Came in Peace for all Mankind: The Untold Story of the Apollo 11 Silicon Disc" by Tahir Rahman. Rahman reveals the messages from leaders such as Pope Paul VI, Indira Gandhi, and the Shah of Iran that are enshrined on the disc.

In a recent interview, Buzz Aldrin stated, "Neil Armstrong and I almost forgot to leave the silicon disc on the Moon, but no one should forget the messages beautifully portrayed in Rahman's book 'We Came in Peace for All Mankind.' The disc will last on the lunar surface for 1000 years."

For more information, email Rahman's book is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and the Smithsonian. - Source: Silicon Disk, LLC