One Small 'Splashdown' for Man

July 25, 2018

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. Yesterday marked the 49th anniversary of the successful splashdown of Apollo 11 and that successful splashdown couldn't have occurred without the expertise and guidance of Captain Hank Brandli.  Brandli was a U.S. Air Force meteorologist who analyzed classified information for the secretive Corona reconnaissance satellite program that was de-classified in 1995. It was one of the Cold War’s spy-projects that photographed “denied” areas such as the Soviet Union and China.  In July of 1969, Brandli convinced his superiors that bringing the Apollo 11 capsule into its original splashdown location would be disastrous. His classified photos detected severe thunderstorms topping at 50,000 feet that would have shredded the capsule’s parachutes and killed the astronauts as they crashed into the ocean. His expertise initiated a new splashdown location as the module was re-positioned to return to Earth for retrieval. It hit the Pacific, 812 miles southwest of Hawaii and 12 nautical miles from the deck of the USS Hornet.

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