Wide Angle

In 1969, King Hassan II sent a message to the Moon

While stepping on the Moon for the first time, members of the Apollo 11 mission left a message of 73 leaders on the satellite. The message included a statement of King Hassan II, in which he saluted «the great brotherhood of men».

King Hassan II of Morocco. / Ph. DR
Estimated read time: 2'

Fifteen years ago, the first two men to fly to the Moon did not go empty handed. On July 20, 1969, they landed on the fifth-largest satellite in the solar system carrying a message from several countries.

The two astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were assigned, apart from visiting the natural satellite, the mission of leaving a trace of their emblematic visit, a trace that represents humanity. And so it was... Aldrin and Armstrong delivered, dropping on the Moon’s surface a disc.

As surprising as it may sound, the same disc carried the words of Morocco’s then ruler, King Hassan II. The Apollo 11 goodwill message, dubbed «From Planet Earth», includes the statements of 73 leaders. They all sent their words to alien life outside the Earth to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to salute humankind’s first incursion to the Moon.

A message that salutes the advancement of science

The message of King Hassan II was featured in a NASA press release, made public on July 13, 1969. Alongside other rulers and kings, the Moroccan sovereign made sure to address the «courage» of Apollo 11 mission’s members and salute the «great brotherhood of men».

«His Majesty King Hassan II and the people of Morocco wish to join the other nations of the world in saluting the courage of the first men to set foot on the Moon in the spirit of peace for all mankind», the late king's message said.

«May this spirit of peace pervade the Earth and the advancement of science enrich the great brotherhood of men».

King Hassan II

Morocco’s message to the Moon joined, indeed, the other countries that took part to the initiative, including the only two Arab nations that participated to the mission, namely Tunisia and Lebanon.

But how can all these message fit in one 50-cent-sized piece? According to NASA’s press release, the famous disc «is made of silicon –a non-metallic chemical element found abundantly in nature and used widely in modern electronics».

«Through a process used to make microminiature electronic circuits», King Hassan II’s statement and the other messages «were etched on the grey-colored disc». «Each message was reduced 200 times to a size much smaller than the head of a pin and appears on the disc as a barely visible dot», the agency wrote.

Although it is a very tiny message, the words of Morocco’s king remain «readable through a microscope», the same document explained, without giving further details on the form of this statement. However, it stressed that while «some [leaders’ messages] are handwritten, others are typed and many are in native languages».

While we are all sitting here, fifty years later, the statement of King Hassan II on behalf of Moroccans is laying on the Moon's surface waiting for a reader. 

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