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[i]The Apollo program was carried out amid the klieg lights of the press on the world stage. That was, after all, the point — it had to be public, even the failures. However, there were aspects of Apollo that were classified. Relatively minor aspects, admittedly, but ones that still affected American national security.
In the event that an Apollo spacecraft was unable to leave Earth orbit, which could have happened if there had been a problem firing the third stage engine on the Saturn 5 which placed the Command and Service Modules and the Lunar Module on a lunar trajectory, or an early problem with the Lunar Module, the Apollo astronauts had a backup mission. They were supposed to circle the Earth and take photographs of the surface using the various cameras that they had aboard their spacecraft. Although this would have been a scientifically disappointing mission, and a major propaganda failure, it was NASA's best attempt at salvaging something from the mission. For some of the later Apollo missions, the Command Module mounted a powerful camera intended for photographing the surface of the Moon. In Earth orbit, this would have produced relatively good photographs of the ground, better than any publicly released before — in fact, of a quality not publicly released until the 1980s.[/i]
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