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The Eagle has crashed: the top secret UPWARD program and Apollo disasters

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CLEARANCE: Top Secret
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The Eagle has crashed: the top secret UPWARD program and Apollo disasters


by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, July 1, 2019
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During the height of the race to the Moon, NASA considered the possibility that the Apollo 11 Lunar Module with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard could crash on the surface without leaving sufficient telemetry about what had gone wrong. In such a situation, NASA might have to send a high-powered camera, derived from a top-secret reconnaissance satellite, to image the crash site, a sort of secret crash scene investigation. Of course, that never happened, but NASA had nearly finished the hardware to accomplish the mission by the time they canceled the program in summer 1967.

In 2010 the government revealed that NASA and the NRO had a second agreement to cooperate on a backup plan to Lunar Orbiter to provide the data necessary for conducting lunar landings, and actually started construction of hardware.
Declassified documents indicate that NASA and a secretive organization known as the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) collaborated on the classified UPWARD program. The goal of UPWARD was in fact to look down from lunar orbit and photograph the Moon in very high resolution in preparation for the lunar landings. But the project made some in the U.S. intelligence community nervous, and once the immediate requirement for it disappeared, the two agencies argued about its continuation.
 
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