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NASA Moon Photos

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                 *    L I T E R A R Y   F R E E W A R E    *
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                 *           F O U N D A T I O N           *
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                  -=ð P R O U D L Y  í  P R E S E N T S ð=-
 :NASA Moon Photos 01/06
 Article from "Houston Sky" No.5, June/July 1995
 The NASA Moon Photos
 My Story of dealing with NASA in the 1970's
 by Vito Saccheri
 In 1979, I was a project manager for a privately owned engineering
 company doing business with the Venezuelan oil industry. My
 counterpart in Venezuela, our client's chief engineer, an American
 engineer named Lester Howes, had come to Houston on business.
 Les and I had spoken by phone and telex for years (no fax machines
 back then), but we had never met. We hit it off when he arrived, and
 after a few days, he confided that he had an ulterior motive in coming
 to Houston. After asking me to keep an open mind, he told me he was
 both an amateur astronomer and a ufologist and that he wanted my help
 in obtaining access to secret photos held somewhere inside NASA. I was
 speechless. When I finished laughing, I realized he was dead serious.
 Some of the guys at work thought Les was just a little light in the
 loafers, and others thought he was just plain crazy, but I could see
 that he was concerned about what I would think of him. After all, we
 were professional engineers, and he had taken quite a chance with me.
 Les showed me a small paperback book entitled "Somebody Else Is on the
 Moon," written by a former NASA scientist, George H. Leonard. Leonard
 had been working in the photo intelligence division of NASA. His job
 had been to interpret moon pictures taken by the unmanned space probes
 we were sending there during the early and mid-sixties. NASA was
 mapping the moon, scoping out possible landing sites for the future
 manned missions.
 Les lent me the book, and I read it overnight. Leonard had come across
 photos he felt confirmed the presence of a very ancient-and possibly
 current-civilization on the moon. He explained that in 1961, President
 Kennedy had committed the USA to reaching the moon within a decade,
 primarily because throughout the 1950s, the scientific community had
 been rocked by observatories around the world, which began reporting
 and later confirming that "moon craters" were actually disappearing,
 right out from under the watchful eyes of their state-of-the-art
 telescopes! Since the possible ramifications were obvious (and
 presumably, since the Roswell incident had already gotten the
 government's attention), the powers that be had decided that Uncle Sam
 had to be the first to reach the moon.
 After arguing futilely with NASA authorities about releasing the
 photos, Leonard published them himself in his book. He felt the
 taxpayers had a right to know what NASA knew, pointing out that
 despite a nine-year mobilization effort that had cost billions of
 dollars, NASA had shut down the entire moon project after only a few
 landings. His contention was that we had confirmed that we were
 trespassing! The small photos would show little, so he provided
 hand-drawn sketches to accompany each photo. And he published the
 special NASA identification code numbers for each picture.
 When I finished the book, I called Les and said I was intrigued and
 would help. The very next day, we made the first trip out to NASA and
 spent the day taking the guided and self-guided tours. On the second
 day, we made our move.
 We entered the public orientation building and told the receptionist
 that we wanted to make arrangement to see some moon pictures. With no
 clue where to start, she eventually directed us to her supervisor, who
 was equally at a loss. Apparently, no one charged with dealing with
 the public knew where NASA kept its photos-or whether they kept them
 at all. And no "Photo Records" department showed up on any list.
 We were passed around to at least four other people before someone
 admitted that NASA had lots of photos "somewhere" on the complex, but
 that the public wasn't permitted to view "unauthorized" photos of any
 project. That's when we changed our strategy. Les blurted out, "Isn't
 it true that NASA is a civilian agency funded by taxpayer money?"
 Confusion spread over her face, and I added, "Well, we're two
 taxpayers, and we're here to see our pictures. Who's got them?"
 Before she could recover, we flashed Leonard's book in her face. I
 continued, "What's so unauthorized about pictures that have already
 been published?" From then on, we decided to stay on the offensive at
 all times.
 Reinforcements were called in, and we soon found ourselves having the
 same conversation with the big boys from administration. None had seen
 the book, but significantly, one had taken the time to confirm that
 Leonard was in fact a former NASA scientist-at the Jet Propulsion Lab,
 from what I could gather. This threw them, and they seemed even
 curious to learn about the book. For after all, the information had
 been generated by NASA in the first place. We settled for a truce and
 to return the next day. Before leaving, however, we reiterated that
 these two taxpayers had every intention of going to the mat with
 whoever was holding back "our photos."
 To make a very long story short, we spent the next several days
 filling out enough forms to give a woodpecker a headache. My office
 advised me that NASA had called to confirm my employment history and
 to inquire about Les. His hotel advised that someone had called to
 confirm that he was staying there. Obviously, the wheels were turning.
 Finally, someone called to say we could see the photos. We returned to
 NASA thinking we had finally succeeded. But success was not to be so
 easy. We were directed to a Building 30, which had not been on the
 tour and which didn't even exist. Building 30 A turned out to be empty
 so we walked into Building 30 B and found ourselves in the middle of a
 high-security area where an existing mission was being monitored.
 Realizing that we were somewhere we should not have been, we tried to
 blend in. Failing miserably to do so, we were soon unceremoniously
 tossed out. Security personnel demanded to know how we had passed the
 civilian section and what was this about moon pictures, taxpayers, and
 a book about the moon? We knew we were really in sheep dip when
 security not only whisked us out of the building but escorted us off
 the premises altogether.
 The next day, after some scrambling on both sides, officials
 apologized to us for the mix-up. For our part, we insinuated that at
 least one thousand photocopies of the Leonard book could rain down on
 everyone on the space center's mailing list. We were counting on this
 bluff to get us past what we considered an impasse. It was time for
 NASA to act. After all, we weren't a couple of underwater pipe welders
 from Boise... We were fellow engineers, brothers of the blood!
 Finally, some serious discussions transpired. The photo library, we
 were told, had been relocated off site to the "Lunar Landing
 Observatory" directly adjacent to the east NASA property on NASA Road
 1. They would be expecting us in two more days at 8:00 AM.
 Two days later, we drove east on NASA 1 past the main entrance of the
 facility, found a chain-link fence that marked the eastern limit of
 the property line, expecting to see a building or sign. Nothing but a
 heavily wooded area! Driving back and forth along the road trying to
 decide whether they had done it to us again, we noticed a narrow dirt
 road running back into the woods directly along NASA's fence line.
 Hung on the chain between two small posts was a sign that read simply:
 "No Trespassing." In- stinct told us this had to be the place. We
 lowered the chain and drove about three-quarters of a mile down the
 dirt road, which U-turned back toward the highway. Directly behind the
 trees and camouflaged by the woods was our building. There was no
 number, only a small plaque near the door that read "Lunar Landing
 Observatory" in half-inch high letters. Somehow we weren't surprised.
 Upon entering, we found ourselves in a small alcove. A large main room
 buzzing with people was off to the right, and what appeared to be a
 small broom closet was on the opposite wall. When we told the
 receptionist we wanted the library, she pointed toward the broom
 closet, which as it turned out, opened onto a winding stairway leading
 down into a dimly lit under-ground tunnel. I'm certain it took us
 back toward the NASA property line.
 At the end of the tunnel was a large room where we found ourselves
 standing in front of a wall-to-wall counter separating us from the
 librarian, who was sitting on a stool. I seem to remember that his
 name was Roger. He explained that there were at least two million
 photos in the library, everything NASA had ever photographed since
 year one. Unfortunately, no one could see "random" photos, as time was
 always short and filing systems complicated. In other words, to see
 any picture, you need its specific code number.
 Roger was surprised that we had all the numbers (no one had told him
 about the book). We handed him our list, thinking we had hit pay dirt
 at last. But after a quick glance, he gave us the bad news: the
 numbers were meaningless in Houston. He explained that for security
 reasons, NASA had split the country into five regions, each with a
 duplicate set of records and a different code number system. Leonard's
 numbers weren't applicable in this facility. I asked where the master
 list was kept, and Roger replied at Langley, Virginia. Les and I
 looked at each other... We didn't have to say it, but we suspected who
 that meant.
 We huddled in the corner for a few minutes trying to decide whether
 this was another stalling effort. But we had come too far to give up.
 We informed Roger that we wanted to proceed. He said that someone in
 the NASA complex had the proper forms to start the ball rolling. He
 just wasn't sure who since no one had ever requested the photos
 before. We were the first, he said, at least in Houston.
 A few days later Roger called us to come fill out new forms, though
 there wasn't much they didn't already know about us. It took two more
 days, but our summons finally came. Roger announced that the photos
 were ready for our inspection. There were, however, strict rules: we
 were to get three eight-hour business days. We were not allowed pens,
 pencils, paper, calculator, camera, or recording devices of any kind.
 Nor could we be left alone with the photos. We were allowed only the
 book and a magnifying loupe. We would be escorted in and out for lunch
 and bathroom breaks. If we agreed to these terms, he said, we could
 begin at nine o'clock the next morning. We arrived at eight.
 This time, we were escorted in by two men. We found five extra-long
 conference room tables set up in a U shape. We had expected to find
 only the pictures listed in Leonard's book. To our amazement, there
 were thousands of photos, all in sets of numerical order. Leonard had
 mentioned that the photos were numbered sequentially by the cameras.
 He also had mentioned that each time the on-board computer analyzing a
 photo picked up an anomaly, it triggered a sequence of additional
 photos that zoomed in on the target closer and closer.
 The photos were huge, approximately 32 by 24 inches, with a dull grey,
 almost dull-black look. On the back of each, technical information was
 recorded, such as the probe's height above the moon's surface while it
 was taking the picture, the angle of approach, and the location of the
 sun in relation to the capsule.
 Frustratingly, we had all the technical data for triangulation--simple
 trigonometry and algebra were all that we needed to compute the size
 and distance of anything shown. But without paper, calculators, or
 pencils, we were limited to what we could do in our heads, and we
 weren't up to it--the numbers were too big, the angles too acute. We
 had to rely on Leonard's numbers. But we verified everything that he
 had seen.
 To this day, I can remember these views: A boulder that seemed to have
 been rolled uphill, leaving its tracks in the side of the hill;
 obvious machinery on the surface, showing bolted sections; three
 dilapidated "bridges" crossing a chasm that reminded me of the Grand
 Canyon; pipe fittings that looked like four-way Ts (or Xs) that could
 be seen in every photo, some with their ends turned up or down as they
 hung over the edge of a crater; three surprising pyramids that
 prompted me later to closely study the Egyptian Giza pyramid complex;
 apparent pipelines criss-crossing the surface, running to and from
 craters; a UFO rising from the surface and photographed directly above
 a crater; and perhaps the most memorable, the unmistakable figure of a
 rectangular structure placed squarely in the biggest crater pictured-
 the structure looked either very old or under construction, but the
 crater had to be miles wide, and the camera angle gave a perfect
 three-dimensional view.
 The clarity and resolution were unlike that of anything I had seen
 before or since, and I shudder to think that this was only the
 beginnings of the spy-in-the-sky technology that has evolved since
 Nobody said much at all for three days. Lester was in hog heaven,
 having realized his greatest ambition. And I was hooked on UFOs. On
 our last day, actually during our last hours, I had seen enough and
 decided to stretch my legs. As I was escorted back to the main room, I
 noticed a false panel that was slightly ajar and peeked inside.
 Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves were filled with white three-ring
 binders. Roger volunteered that most of the binders were filled with
 the details of NASA's scientific experiments conducted in space. The
 rest, he said, were simply transcripts of the manned space flights,
 including the moon landings. Since he had gotten to know us over the
 three days and had enjoyed seeing the photos himself, he gave me a
 wink and a nod and allowed me to enter the room unescorted.
 I spent most of the remaining time poring over the scientific data, as
 I wasn't much interested in the transcripts. After all, along with
 four billion others, I had watched the first lunar landing on TV.
 Fortunately, however, I decided to browse some transcripts and flipped
 casualty through a few, killing the last 15 minutes of time. Then my
 eyes caught it- "Houston, we've got a bogey at two o'clock."
 And there was more- "Roger that, Apollo. Switching to alpha. Roll
 eight degrees and begin sequence... "
 "Roger, Mission Control. Confirming alpha."
 Though I knew instinctively what it meant, I couldn't believe what I
 was reading. I raced through the pages and other mission transcripts
 and found similar dialogue-
 "Mission Control, we've got Santa Claus coming over the hill...."
 "Roger, Apollo. Hold your fix. Switching bravo. Do you copy?"
 "Roger, Houston. Bravo link...."
 These guys were reporting UFO activity, but I couldn't remember ever
 hearing this during the live TV broadcasts of lunar missions in `69
 and `70. I was too dumbfounded to say a word and too scared to tell
 Les or Roger. I didn't want to get either of them in trouble-we had no
 clearance to see these documents.
 So I just kept my mouth shut while Les asked Roger if there was any
 way to buy some of the pictures we had reviewed. Roger gave us more
 forms to fill out and told us it would take several weeks. When the
 pictures arrived, Les was back in Venezuela. They were lousy as we
 expected, with almost no resolution. No one who saw them was
 impressed, least of all me. But I remained preoccupied all the same,
 particularly with my other find.
 Not until years later did I mention the transcripts to a few close
 friends. One eventually mentioned a special lady he thought I should
 meet. Since I don't have permission to use her name, I'll call her
 Jane. Jane was a college coed at the time, transcribing audio tapes
 for NASA. I eventually asked her how astronauts could talk about UFOs
 during live broadcasts being transmitted all over the world without
 anyone hearing their conversation.
 She explained that the space program had developed many technologies
 which at the time had not been declassified or adapted for commercial
 use. One of these new developments-unknown to the general public-was
 instant replay video, which would become common later. But in 1969 and
 70, only a handful of people were aware of it. Thus, NASA could switch
 the Mission Control picture to a live broadcast of a news reporter
 standing next to a full-scale mockup, and while a viewer's attention
 was diverted, the real stuff was happening behind the scenes. It's no
 wonder that in the early days, only military pilots were qualified to
 be astronauts. These were the guys with the real right stuff-they knew
 how to keep their mouths shut!
 When I met moon photo researcher Marvin Czarnik in 1995, I learned
 that he had helped develop some of the technical systems used at NASA.
 Besides the length of time of instant replay, he knew that code words
 like "alpha" and "bravo' referred to special switching stations around
 the country that "switch" broadcast reception away from Houston and
 Mission Control directly to CIA headquarters in Langley. This was my
 missing puzzle piece. I knew then for certain who it was that had the
 master list of photographs.
 In 1980, another puzzle piece fell into place. A friend had shown me a
 special congressional subcommittee report on moon rocks brought back
 by the astronauts and a feasibility study on colonizing the moon. The
 document was dated 1972 or `73 and concluded that moon colonization
 using giant plastic air bubbles was unrealistic and that we would need
 to transport air from the earth. The congressional report concluded
 that there was plenty of oxygen on the moon trapped in the rocks. The
 recommend solution: pulverize the rocks on a large scale with major
 excavations. The liberated oxygen would be stored in underground
 caverns and tunnel systems and the debris from these pulverized rocks
 dumped into the existing craters. Naturally, the craters would
 eventually disappear, an observation made by astronomers long before
 the first moon landings and, ironically, one that had initially
 prompted Leonard and other scientists of the 1950s to analyze early
 moon photos.
 That the moon should be occupied by others who periodically visit the
 earth makes perfect sense to me. I remember in the 1960s, after
 President Kennedy mobilized NASA, that the talk was about beating the
 Russians to the moon and using it as a station, or stepping stone, to
 the stars. In those days, there were great debates on who would get
 the mining and mineral rights if gold or other precious metals were
 found. Also in those days, there were arguments about allowing the
 U.S. military to place missiles on the moon since it was not to be
 used militarily.
 Today, we no longer talk about using the moon as a base of any kind.
 Instead, we talk about using space stations. Why? The moon would seem
 to be a ready-made station. And why aren't companies like U.S. Steel,
 3M, and Shell Oil lining up for concessions to the moon's mineral
 rights? I can remember when Pan Am World Airways was actually selling
 advance tickets to the moon! And finally, when has the government's
 Defense Department _not_ pushed for funding to build a strategic missile
 base with first-strike capability? They're still building Star Wars.
 Personally, I think Leonard was right, and I thank Lester Howes for
 trusting me to get involved. Someday I'll track him down and tell him
 about those transcripts.
 Houston Sky is published as a forum for the open exchange of ideas and
 information for Houston-area MUFON members and others. Because views
 within the UFO community are so varied, the opinions and observations
 expressed in HS do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial
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 (C) 1995, Houston Sky
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