Landing on the moon was an iconic moment in human history and the Soviets lead the way in exploring the final frontier. As for missions to Mars, one wonders why there has been such a long delay in more missions even to the Moon. The reason is that at that time the US was in a fierce competition with the Soviet Union and once the race was over the US simply gave up.
When astronauts first touched down on the moon in 1969 as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission — and for every Apollo mission that followed — they left behind evidence that they’d been there, some intentional and some necessary. The most iconic of these were six American flags, all of which were thought to have been destroyed by the harsh conditions on the lunar service or at least knocked over by now. As it turns out, all but one are still standing.
One of the most intriguing aspects of these photos is the fact that the remaining U.S. flags have all turned white. This happened due to bleaching by sunlight, which hits the flags for as long as 14 days at a time without any sort of atmosphere to filter its rays. Manufactured from nylon without any thought as to retaining their looks over the decades of lunar exposure — they weren’t even expected to be standing for long — the flags cost only $5.50 in the 1960s. We’re guessing that the flags eventually carried to Mars by Earth’s astronauts will probably be made to last longer — and cost a pretty penny more.
- Flags From Apollo Missions Still Standing (abcnews.go.com)
- Apollo Moon flags still standing, images show (bbc.co.uk)
- New NASA photos reveal American flags planted during moon landings proudly yet wave FOUR DECADES after last Apollo mission (dailymail.co.uk)
- US flags still on the moon, except one: NASA (moondaily.com)
- Moon flags likely lost their stripes (sfgate.com)