July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong sets his foot on the moon surface. He declares :

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind".

But what history books don't mention is that, as he gazes at the desolated landscape, he notices, a shining intriguing structure close to the horizon. When Buzz Aldrin joins him 10 minutes later, Neil points out this direction but, light has changed, and Buzz, thinking that Neil shows him the landscape, declares "Magnificent desolation". They walk back to the lunar module and Neil stops thinking about it. However, when he does his debrief at the NASA center, he mentions this intriguing structure, which arouse the curiosity of the scientists and the military.

As matter of fact, one of the objective of Apollo 12 mission was to understand what Neil Armstrong caught sight of. Incredibly, the astronauts of Apollo 12 mission ( Charles "Pete" Conrad & Alan L. Bean) discovered the remains of an ancient advanced civilisation. This information is classified and all remaining Apollo missions true objective is to explore those vestiges.

  • My question is : what are the possible reasons which pushed the US government to keep secret this amazing discovery ?

  • Bonus question : - For what reasons did US government stop the Apollo program and thus the exploration of the vestiges as soon as 1972 ?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Renan, nzaman, JBH, EveryBitHelps, anon Aug 31 '18 at 19:28

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 18
    $\begingroup$ Not to ruin the spirit of the question too much, but a shining, building sized object on the surface of the moon would be spotted by someone else. Astronomers with good telescopes, foreign space programs etc. The conspiracy has to be much bigger than just the US government. Heck the Soviets had a lunar orbiter around Mars when Armstrong jumped down (Luna 14), so they would have already seen this object. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Aug 31 '18 at 14:05
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @user53220 As colmde suggested, perhaps it is built into the side of a crater or hill; it is a cave of some sort. What Armstrong saw was a lucky reflection of the sun through the cave opening, off some strange metal alloy, an alignment that occurs only for 60 seconds each day. The structure they end up exploring is entirely an underground facility, with access ports to the surface. The radiation, meteorite strikes and lack of atmosphere on the surface are all defeated by going deep underground. From above, there is just nothing to see. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus Aug 31 '18 at 14:26
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ Oh, come on, it doesn't ALWAYS have to be Armstrong. Give Buzz some glory too. =P $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 31 '18 at 14:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @kingledion has a point. Maybe you could slightly shift your narrative so that Neil fell into a small hole and then found the civilization's vestiges, away from prying telescopy eyes. $\endgroup$ – Magus Aug 31 '18 at 15:16
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I apologize for asking, but how is this worldbuilding? You're not asking us about the rules of a world but how to build your plot. Further, how will you judge the best answer? Why is "it would scare the willies out of the population" better or worse than "the aliens actually made contact and offered trade terms that included cow lips, which would anger U.S. ranchers and drive up the price of beef, angering all U.S. citizens"? $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 31 '18 at 17:34

what are the possible reasons which pushed the US government to keep secret this amazing discovery

The US Government at this time was INCREDIBLY paranoid, and totally committed to trying to protect the status quo by whatever means necessary. Discovery of proof of intelligent alien life would, if nothing else, be incredibly destabilizing and for these people, keeping it absolutely secret would be a no-brainer. Allowing the discovery to go public would cause massive social and political upheaval, and would likely spur the Soviet Union to double down on their own space program to ensure they weren't left out.

Bonus question : - For what reasons did US government stop the Apollo program and thus the exploration of the vestiges as soon as 1972 ?

Easy: They didn't. Instead they took the entire lunar program and put the entire thing under the tightest secrecy possible.

Remember: The US Government's primary objective at this point is to keep the Soviets as far away from the moon as possible. The best way to do this is to make the moon look BORING.


They finish out the Apollo program by using the subsequent missions to gather as much information about the artifacts as possible with the technology possible. Then they shut it down, at least publicly. The USA is Done with the Moon, and the Soviets chalk it up as a Loss and move on to new things.

In the meantime, a massive secret program launches to analyze all the images and artifacts returned from the moon. Many of the spectacularly sophisticated and expensive Keyhole reconnaissance satellites are actually put into Lunar orbits rather than taking pictures of Soviet missile sites. The United States put up a desperate front to convince the USSR that the entire attention of the United States scientific and military establishment is still focused on the prospect of confrontation with the Soviet Union, while instead those resources are entirely focused on the moon.

In 1973 NASA launches Skylab. Ostensibly a primitive attempt to explore the challenges and possibilities of orbital space stations, Skylab is actually intended to be an orbital launchpad and refueling station for a new series of lunar expeditions. The technical challenges associated with trying to SECRETLY get the second generation lunar modules into orbit and launched into lunar trajectories prove to be insurmountable however, and in 1978 the program is shut down.

In 1983 the deployment of the Space Shuttle finally gives NASA the tools they need to quietly return to the moon. Contrary to popular opinion, the stealth programs headlined by Lockheed's Skunk Works have had the primary objective NOT of developing stealth aircraft, but rather the creation of stealth SPACECRAFT that can be carried into orbit by the space shuttle to come and go from the moon in secret.

Completely unbeknownst to all but the inner circle, every third shuttle launch actually carries a stealth second-generation Apollo module outfitted with Radar Absorbent Materials and ECM. Once in orbit the new "Hermes" modules quietly make their two-week journeys to the moon and back with mixed crews of astronauts and specially trained scientists.

The moon program is shut down along with the shuttle after the Challenger disaster results in the loss of not only the publicly acknowledged shuttle crew, but also a fully crewed lunar probe with six more astronauts and scientists, including the project lead.

Missions continue, although at a reduced frequency, until the loss of the Columbia in 2003. The grounding of the shuttle fleet immediately afterwards required an emergency re-entry procedure to be executed a week later by the returning crew of the final second-generation lunar mission, as the shuttle mission that had been scheduled to ferry them back down to earth had been cancelled.

This marks the end, at least for now, of manned exploration of the moon, although over the two and a half decades a massive trove of detailed examinations and artifacts have been collected that will keep an army of exo-archeologists busy for a generation.

EDIT: In a moment of extreme irony, NASA themselves conceive and propagate the idea that the moon landing was faked, adding another layer to the smokescreen and helping support the idea that the moon is Boring.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I bet you could improve this even more if you added that Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974 was somehow related to this. Watergate wasn't really that big of a scandal... maybe it was made up to hide the truth, some kind of lunar-related blackmail... $\endgroup$ – workerjoe Aug 31 '18 at 14:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I got to a point where I was like "I've just got to hit 'submit' and call it good, or I'll be writing this all day". This was a really fun idea! $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 31 '18 at 14:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Morris, this is a clever, conspiracy-filled answer that I really like. Except... that amateur astronomers -- decent telescopes aren't that expensive -- know where every STS mission went, and know that Skylab only orbited Earth, because they observed them. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 31 '18 at 14:49
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn I thought of that! Maybe it's not clear enough, but the whole idea is that the Shuttle wasn't GOING to the moon, the Shuttle was carrying stealth 2nd-gen Apollo modules up to orbit and bringing them down, so they could launch the moon missions while pretending they were something else. Sure you can watch the shuttle orbiting earth all day, but in the meantime a jet-black lunar module covered with Radar-Absorbent Material is quietly lurking off to the moon and back. I'll edit for clarity. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 31 '18 at 14:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Interesting story but from a rocketry perspective the Hermes modules are basically impossible. The shuttle could not have carried enough chemical fuel to get anything meaningful to the moon and nothing else has enough thrust to do the two week lunar fly by. You might as well have said they teleported from the Shuttle to the moon. Secretly deploying small sats with Ion drives might have been practical. $\endgroup$ – Evan Steinbrenner Aug 31 '18 at 17:44

I came up with some quick ideas that may help get your creative juices flowing.

Reasons for Keeping secrets

Advanced Technology:

The space race was at the height of the cold war with the USSR. The careful balance achieved during that war was (in the opinions of those involved) largely reliant on the policy of mutally assured destruction through the use of nuclear arms by either side. However, The apollo missions discovered some serious hardware on the moon, things that would tip the balance of power so far in favor of the USA that the USSR would likely feel compelled to respond. For this reason, the files were sealed away.

Dangerous Space Organism:

The apollo program discovered a potentially dangerous organism on the moon and brought it home. Apollo 13's mission was actually to bring home a sample and as such, they had problems when it "breached containment" on the way home from the moon. The cover story to this was that they had "trouble" in space, thereby detracting from the truth if it were to ever come out. Since it was common practice at the time to quarantine apollo astronauts, no one was the wiser when oen of them slipped the sample phial to the CIA operative in the recovery party at sea.

Bonus Question:

Soviet Encroachment:

The americans realized by 1972 that they were starting to "leak" information to the USSR. This was of grave concern because of the advanced technologies and potential discoveries on the moon. As a result, the public exploration of the moon was halted by order of national security interests rather than the desire to stop, this was to ensure the soviets never felt "extra compelled" to go to the moon like the americans had. IT was essentially a bluff. For good measure, and as a sign of good faith, the US space agencies shared their moon dust and moon rock samples with the soviets. Nothing to see here.

A darkness lurks on the moon:

Apollo missions left behind some rudimentary remote controlled robots (possible with the era's technology) to explore the ruins on the moon. One of the robots was designated to investigate a section of the city deamed a bit too dangerous for entry by astronauts at the time (to be visited later when they could smuggle space soldiers into an apollo launch instead) but the remote robot ended up going dark minutes into its run. The second (and last) robot left on the moon tried the same but managed to relay the image of "something in the shadows" before it lost contact.

Minutes after both of these incidents, mission control received the same , cryptic radio message, an unknown sequence of noise that at the time was considered undecipherable, at least for now...

EDIT: For some spelling mistakes.


The human ego is fragile

America was at its technological peak, new worlds were being explored, the excitement was there for the future and what could be done with this new technology. The last thing needed was clear evidence that someone had got there first.

Given that this was the height of the cold war, people would immediately assume it was the Russians, the space race had been lost, and all hell could break loose. It could be the end of the American way of life. Better to say nothing and let it be for the duration. The best way to let it be is to find a reason to shut down the whole programme and for nobody to set foot there again for 50 years.


Since they didn't fully understand what the shining structure was, they had several reasons to keep it secret.

  • It was still in the middle of the Cold War. Whatever there was on the moon, the US government did everything in their power to keep the knowledge from the Soviets. That included keeping the knowledge from as many people as possible, as almost everyone could have been a spy.
  • They needed time to examine and study their findings. there's only so much oxygen you can transport to the moon, so they needed several missions to have enough time to study the structure and bring objects back to Earth.
  • Of course they wanted all technology and knowledge for themselves. Again, the Cold War was still waging on.

What did they actually do?

Obviously, they couldn't excavate anything in a big scale because that would be visible from Earth. So they cut a hole in the structure and found a maze of corridors, but not much else. They brought anything small enough to be transported back to Area 51 (and some worthless stones as red herrings to keep the Soviets away) and are since investigating these objects on Earth.

Why did they stop the Apollo missions?

Because they still don't understand the objects they brought back from the Moon. In order to keep this a secret, especially in modern times, you can have only a very limited number of people knowing of and working on the research. Obviously, you cannot simply plug a battery into an alien object and expect it to light up. Contrary to popular TV shows you cannot plug a USB cable into them and interface our technology. It took them years to realize how to interact with these objects and they simply don't understand the output of them.

They haven't got any tangible results and there was neither any death ray gun nor a mind reading device among the shiny souveniers from the Moon. Without results, no money. That was the end of Apollo.


I liked YElm's answer until he came to the end of the missions. Genuine alien relics in Area 51, and the government stops the investigation? No way, not even for a good story!

  • They found something and Apollo 12 returned with samples.
  • The focus of the Apollo missions changed completely, overnight. Unfortunately they couldn't get more rockets and more trained astronauts overnight, so the rate of launch did not increase. The urgency and the readiness to take risks went up, causing Apollo 13.
  • Apollo 14, 15, 16, and 17 poked at things man was not meant to know. Apollo 17 entered an alien base and accidentally activated the defense system. They got away while the weapons dug themselves out of the regolith, but space has become much more lethal. Remember those lost Mars missions? Same cause.
  • There are conspiracy theories about a Soviet moon mission. Weave them into the story.

Alternatively, a computer or the like told the astronauts not to come back, and made credible threats.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.