In the planning of the US missions to the moon was planting the UN flag ever discussed? It just seems to me that would have been a great public relations move.

  • 41
    $\begingroup$ The whole point of the Apollo missions was to demonstrate U.S. industrial/technological (and an implied military) superiority over the then Soviet Union in the midst of the cold war. Planting the U.S. flag was in a way the whole point. However, a plaque on the Apollo 11 descent stage reads, in part, "we came in peace for all mankind" - a more inclusive and more enduring message than planting any flag. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jun 8, 2019 at 18:38
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @AnthonyX And the flag's blank now, anyway. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 16:29
  • 22
    $\begingroup$ @MaxW My point is that you have to look at it from a 1960s cold war perspective, where I think you are looking at it from a 2010s point of view and today's cultural values. It all made perfect sense in the context of the time. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 16:44
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @AnthonyX - Perhaps I do have a 2010s point of view, but I watched the landing live. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 21:03
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @AnthonyX: American astronauts planting a UN flag would have been just as clear a demonstration of superiority/victory in the race. It could even have been seen as a stronger one: ostentatious humility in victory is often used as a way of rubbing it in. Your point shows why e.g. making the first landing a joint mission would have been unthinkable, but it really doesn’t rule out that a UN flag might have been considered. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 22:38

2 Answers 2


Yes, it was. According to a comprehensive paper about the Apollo 11 flag, there was even discussion within NASA and its Committee on Symbolic Activities for the First Lunar Landing about this possibility. Astronaut Michael Collins also wrote in Carrying the Fire that the possibility of taking up flags of all nations was also considered and someone even designed a rig to display them. In the end, though, Congress passed a law saying that only the American flag could be used.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Single-line, link-only (or majority link) answers are subject to downvotes and deletion, because of link-rot. Please quote the relevant sections from each link. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ Uhm, maybe I'm missing something, but this appears to be a short answer with two links as provided references. I don't think anything else is required. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Jul 7, 2019 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ I like that the next alternative with 72 votes says the opposite. $\endgroup$
    – Innovine
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Innovine That was the first answer posted. I didn't have time to reply for a few days. $\endgroup$
    – jaia
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 21:31

No. Planting a flag was the idea of NASA's "Mr. Fix-It", Jack Kinzler, less than 4 months before Apollo 11's launch:

Kinzler believed that the people of the United States would also want to see an American flag to commemorate the enormous achievement of landing a man on the surface of the moon. The original LM design had an American flag painted on the side of the descent stage, but he thought, “That’s not a very effective way to celebrate with an American flag.” Again with the help of McCraw, Kinzler sketched his idea of a freestanding full- size flag on a telescoping flagpole. The entire flag unit fit into a three-foot protective heat shroud attached to the LM ladder, making it accessible to the astronauts on the lunar surface, but not taking up any precious space inside the LM itself.

The committee to whom he suggested the idea turned the entire project over to him. It is clear from the article that Kinzler intended no other flag than a patriotic U.S. flag.

Kinzler's other accomplishments include:

  • Designed and built models for wind tunnel testing for NACA, NASA's predecessor.
  • Chief of Technical Services at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
  • Designed a small maneuvering unit used in Gemini spacewalks.
  • Designed the plaques on the lunar landers ("We come in peace for all mankind...").
  • Designed the golf club head that attached to the lunar sampling scoop, which Alan Shepard used to hit two golf balls on the moon.
  • Designed a sunshade for Skylab because its thermal shield was damaged at launch.
  • NASA distinguished service medal.
  • Obituary
  • 47
    $\begingroup$ ...and that's today's episode of "Fun With Flags", brought to you by DrSheldon. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 17:07
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ "the people of the United States would also want to see an American flag" of-course, footage of that flag led to all kind of conspiracies because people don't understand how flags work on the moon, but at least we've all seen the flag. $\endgroup$
    – Mast
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 20:24
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @Mast: Yes, not only did it did lead to conspiracy theories, but Kinzler was quoted as being frustrated by those theories. The last two paragraphs of the obituary link above are about Kinzler's reactions to those theories. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 21:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The "No" in the beginning of this answer is proven wrong by the NASA source provided with @jaia's answer: "[...] there was some discussion within the agency that a United Nations flag could be used for the flight". $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 12:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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