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  • NASA has released photos, videos,

  • and audio recordings of its Apollo missions.

  • CapCom: We copy you down, Eagle.

  • Narrator: So there's little left about these missions

  • that we don't already know, except for one mystery

  • that's been hiding in plain sight for decades:

  • One of NASA's Apollo lunar modules may be missing.

  • That's right, missing.

  • And not even NASA seems to know where it is.

  • Houston: Engines on five, four, three, two,

  • all engines running.

  • We have liftoff.

  • Dave Mosher: Where is Lunar Module 14?

  • What state was it in?

  • Does anybody have it?

  • Does anybody know where it's at?

  • Narrator: From 1962 to 1970,

  • NASA commissioned Grumman Aircraft

  • to build 15 space-worthy lunar modules

  • for its Apollo program.

  • Each one was labeled Lunar Modules 1 through 15

  • and cost around $150 million to make,

  • or about $1.1 billion today.

  • Newscaster: Charlie Brown was selected by the astronauts

  • as the codename for the Apollo 10 command module,

  • and his friend Snoopy was the call sign

  • for the lunar module.

  • Mosher: NASA launched 10 of these lunar landers into space.

  • Six of them landed on the surface of the moon

  • and brought the astronauts back.

  • Other four were used for practices

  • and dry runs, future missions.

  • And there were five that were left on the ground.

  • Narrator: Three of those five that never went to space,

  • Lunar Modules 2, 9, and 13, are in museums,

  • which leaves us with LM-14 and 15.

  • Lunar Module 15...

  • Mosher: Was another lunar lander

  • that was being built for Apollo 20,

  • which, of course, never happened.

  • They turned it into scrap metal.

  • So that leaves us with one lunar lander, LM-14.

  • On the Smithsonian's website,

  • there's a page listing the lunar landers

  • and all of their fates.

  • Lunar Module 15 is listed as scrapped,

  • but if you go up one row and you look at Lunar Module 14,

  • it says "Not Used."

  • What that means, we don't know,

  • and that's what started this adventure in the first place.

  • Narrator: To be clear, it is not easy

  • to hide one of these landers.

  • Once complete, they're the size of a small house

  • and weigh about 35,000 pounds.

  • Mosher: Now, when we started looking into Lunar Module 14,

  • things were a little weird.

  • The documents that we had access to

  • said incomplete or not used.

  • It didn't say anything about it being scrapped.

  • It didn't say it was in any institution or museum.

  • And so we started digging into this.

  • Narrator: NASA and the Smithsonian

  • didn't have evidence to its whereabouts,

  • the Cradle of Aviation Museum didn't know,

  • and even historians at Northrop Grumman,

  • the original manufacturers

  • of the lunar modules, were stumped.

  • Mosher: But one of the experts that we talked to said,

  • hey, I think it's at the Franklin Institute

  • in Philadelphia.

  • We looked into that, and it was not it.

  • It was an early prototype from the Apollo program,

  • a lunar module that was never supposed to fly into space.

  • Narrator: And then we got a lead. Sort of.

  • Mosher: There was a document from March 1978

  • that is a disposition, or a list,

  • of everything in the Apollo program.

  • What it was, what its code number was,

  • and where it's located.

  • And that document is missing Page No. 9,

  • which is the page that describes where Lunar Module 14

  • would be located or what happened to it, if anything.

  • Narrator: Yeah, it sounds exactly

  • like some sort of Hollywood spy thriller,

  • but this actually happened.

  • Nobody could find this document.

  • Even one of NASA's historians looked for us

  • and couldn't locate it.

  • And the same went for the National Archives.

  • We finally got some clue as to what happened to it

  • from University of Houston's space archive.

  • Mosher: Hi, this is Dave Mosher with Business Insider.

  • Is this Jean?

  • Jean: Hi. Yes, it is.

  • Hi, Dave.

  • Mosher: Hi.

  • So, I heard you found Page 9 of that document.

  • Can you read it to me, tell me what is says?

  • Jean: Next to LM-14, it says "Mission Cancelled."

  • Mosher: Mission canceled.

  • And then is there anything else that it says?

  • Jean: The next column says remarks.

  • It says, "Deleted from program."

  • Mosher: Deleted from program. [laughs]

  • It doesn't say where it went or what happened to it?

  • Jean: No, it does not.

  • Mosher: OK.

  • Narrator: So we were at a dead end.

  • And, to be fair, this wouldn't be the first time

  • a moon lander has been lost to history.

  • In 1969, the lunar lander for Apollo 10

  • was ejected into space

  • as part of a dry run for Apollo 11.

  • Newscaster: Ground contact was maintained

  • with the ascent stage until its batteries were depleted,

  • some 12 hours later.

  • Narrator: NASA didn't track the lander at the time,

  • so it was missing, floating somewhere in space for decades.

  • Until, in 2019, a group of enthusiasts from the UK

  • said they were pretty sure they found

  • where it was floating in space.

  • So, if those guys could find a lost lunar module

  • in the vast expanse of space,

  • why does nobody know where a moon lander on Earth has gone?

  • Charles Duke: OK, this has got to be

  • the greatest sight ever.

  • Narrator: So we had pretty much given up

  • on uncovering the truth.

  • That was, until we got ahold of Paul Fjeld

  • a few weeks later.

  • He's obsessed with these lunar landers.

  • Mosher: In fact, he worked with

  • the Cradle of Aviation Museum

  • to retrofit LM-13 into an Apollo-style landing site

  • within the museum.

  • Narrator: So, here's what he had to say

  • about our grand missing-lunar-lander mystery.

  • Paul Fjeld: 14 actually never really got built.

  • I'm not gonna bet my son's life,

  • but I'll bet a lot of money

  • that there's not a scrap of LM-14 left.

  • Narrator: Of course, that would explain

  • why there's no photos of it.

  • Mosher: The really revealing thing that Paul showed us

  • was this progress chart from Grumman

  • of the lunar landers that were under construction

  • right before NASA canceled the entire program,

  • and it shows that LM-14 was about 1% to 5% complete,

  • based on Fjeld's analysis.

  • So the farthest that technicians at Grumman got

  • was basically cutting out all of these pieces of metal

  • and starting to assemble them, weld them together,

  • before NASA canceled the program.

  • We also spoke to two other space-flight-history experts,

  • and they also think that LM-14 was scrapped,

  • but they're not entirely certain of that.

  • Fjeld: I'm gonna say they would've said,

  • look, we got a bunch of F-14s

  • that are just starting to come off the line here.

  • This is what's the future for Grumman.

  • We need all the metal that we can get.

  • This is some lovely 2024 aluminum,

  • 7075 structural aluminum.

  • Can we use that on F-14s?

  • Sure.

  • Narrator: So LM-14's Frankensteined pieces

  • maybe did fly, in a way.

  • And perhaps they're in an aviation museum right now,

  • as part of a jet.

  • Newscaster: In this strange, metallic bird

  • rides the ancient and endless dream of all mankind.

  • Narrator: But we may never know for sure.

  • Fjeld: I can't guarantee that, you know, some guy

  • didn't just drive it off the lot

  • and it's now sitting in his basement or up in an attic

  • that his grandkids have no idea what the h--- it is.

  • Who knows? [laughs]

NASA has released photos, videos,

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The Mysterious Case Of NASA's Missing $1.1 Billion Moon Lander | Beyond Earth

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/06
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