No. 388

History books say that between 1975 and 1981 NASA didn’t launch any manned missions to space.


October 3, 1980

“Houston, this is Polus 2, we are go for lift-off.”

“Roger, Polus 2. We are starting the countdown. Good luck.”


December 12, 1980

“Mommy, look! There are lights on the moon!” said Sally.

“Well, honey, the moon is bright most of the time,” her mother assured her.

“No, Mom. They’re moving.”

“It’s just your imagination. Goodnight, dear.”



Sally Baker left the meeting feeling numb.

Her department at NASA was facing severe budget cuts. She had just been informed that she had two days to find a new project with approved funding, or begin telling her staff that they were all going to be out of work.

She sat down at her computer, head spinning with the news. How was she going to save the Prospective Missions Division? Their main role to date had been proposing hypothetical scenarios for future exploration, and then passing their reports to Engineering for feasibility studies. Mostly, it was for good PR stories to take to elementary schools to inspire children’s imaginations about space.

She leaned back and closed her eyes, trying to fight off the headache she could feel forming right between them. She squeezed her temples and took a deep breath. She stayed like that for some time, letting her mind wander.


When she opened her eyes they fell on her framed poster of Neil Armstrong on the moon and its caption, “July 20, 1969”.

She stared at the date. It triggered an old memory, something she hadn’t thought about in decades.

Sitting up quickly, she grabbed her security pass and phone from her desk. She dialed with one hand as she hurried out the office door.

“Archives? Hi, this is Dr. Baker. I’m going to be down there in about ten minutes and I’ll need an escort for the classified documents room.”