Lunar Flag Assembly

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Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag which was part of the Lunar Flag Assembly
Unassembled LFA

The Lunar Flag Assembly (LFA) was a 3-by-5-foot (0.91 by 1.52 m) flag of the United States and flagpole planted on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts.

Description[edit]

The LFA was specially designed with a horizontal pole to support the flag on the airless Moon to make it appear to fly as it would in the wind on Earth. The LFA presented a range of technical challenges, including packaging, tolerance of environmental conditions and deployment.

The LFA was suggested and designed by Jack Kinzler, head of technical services at the Johnson Space Center and known as "Mr. Fix It" in the agency. Originally, NASA had only planned to include an imprinted flag on the Apollo Lunar Module, but Kinzler suggested the LFA. He claimed he got the idea of inserting a horizontal pole through a hemmed pocket in the top of the flag from his memory of his mother hanging curtains in such a fashion during his childhood.[1] Kinzler also suggested, designed, and oversaw the creation of the commemorative plaque affixed to all the Apollo Lunar Modules.[1]

Some Americans anticipated possible controversy over planting the United States flag on the Moon, since territorial claims to any extraterrestrial body were prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom on January 27, 1967.[2] But since it was made clear the United States had no intention of making a territorial claim to the Moon, no serious controversy materialized. In fact, the United States Congress passed a bill in November 1969, signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon, stating "the flag of the United States, and no other flag, shall be implanted or otherwise placed on the surface of the moon, or on the surface of any planet, by members of the crew of any spacecraft ... as part of any mission ... the funds for which are provided entirely by the Government of the United States. ... this act is intended as a symbolic gesture of national pride in achievement and is not to be construed as a declaration of national appropriation by claim of sovereignty."[2]

A disproven allegation that the flag placed on the surface by the astronauts fluttered despite there being no wind on the Moon is one of the Moon landing conspiracy theories.[citation needed]

A review of photographs taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) indicates that flags placed during the Apollo 12, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17 missions were still standing as of 2012.[3] The flag for the Apollo 11 mission was blown over by the rocket blast during lift-off.[3] Some experts theorize that the colors of some flags may have turned white due to sunlight and space radiation, or that the fabric might have disintegrated entirely.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Johnson, Sandra L. (Fall 2008). "Red, White & Blue: U.S. Flag at Home on the Moon". Houston History Magazine 6 (1): 60. 
  2. ^ a b Platoff 1993.
  3. ^ a b Fincannon, James (Apr 12, 2012). "Six Flags on the Moon: What is Their Current Condition?". Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. NASA. Retrieved 1 Aug 2012. 
  4. ^ Beatty, Kelly (July 30, 2012). "Viewing the Flags of Apollo". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 1 Aug 2012. 

References[edit]