Formally initiated by President John F. Kennedy, the Apollo Project was a division of NASA dedicated to conducting next generation technological research in a variety of areas. While the project's most visible achievement was its work on manned space flight, which ultimately culminated in the first moon landing, there were many more dimensions to the research conducted by the Apollo Project, though many were conducted in secrecy. Among the most historically significant inventions to come out of Apollo's secret projects were the superlaser destruction beam, a method of traveling between alternate dimensions, and velcro.
The project advanced American technology immensely during the dark days of the Cold War, which were the most momentous in American history since the Founding Fathers walked the earth as the world's mightiest heroes. In the aftermath of the Manhattan Project's success, the world became a dangerous place and America's new heroes needed to demonstrate to the enemy that American technology was superior. Thus, even more than the scientific advances of Apollo, the project's real significance may have been in demonstrating American technical superiority. Or not, really, since without those technological advances the world would have been devoured whole in 1973.
Our story begins like all stories do — in Nazi Germany. It was 1934 and Hitler had tightened his grip on German society while begining a campaign of rearmament in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. As part of rearmament he began to crack down on Germany's scientific community, diverting resources and researchers to develop newer weapons technologies. Most famously, weapons research occurred at Heeresversuchsanstalt, a research site near Peenemünde, established in 1937. The site hosted two research teams: the first of these was a team of rocket scientists lead by Wernher von Braun, which produced many of Germany's long-range ballistic missiles, including the V-2, the Wasserfall anti-aircraft missile, and the LimeyKiller 3000.
As World War II progressed, Heinrich Himmler added a second team of scientists to Hereisverucasaltansuch in addition to the rocket scientists, this one with considerably loftier goals. Lead by Professor Moshe Finkelstein, the team's goal was to develop a method of traveling between alternate realities. The military applications of such a technology were limitless: one could travel freely to any spot on the globe via any reality in which no war existed, discoveries made in alternate realities could be copied, and Germany could gain the natural resources of a thousand alternate reality versions of France, all of which would immediately surrender.
At first the two projects were given roughly equal priority, but as the war effort began to go poorly, Hitler personally directed that all resources go to the alternate reality project, and the two teams at Hiresversionsalt were merged under the leadership of von Braun, as it had recently been learned that former project leader Professor Finkelstein had, in fact, been a Jew. By focusing on the alternate reality project, Hitler hoped to realize his ultimate goal of a pure Aryan society in a new way — by finding an uninhabited earth and filling it with the populations of many alternate Germanys.
As inevitable defeat appeared over the German horizon, however, the German scientists decided that for their own safety they would travel to the front lines so as to surrender to the Americans. Evading German soldiers ordered to destroy the scientists and their work, they surrendered to the Americans in the spring of 1945. Consequently, the scientists immigrated to America and began to work for the American government. Unfortunately for America, the team included one Snidely von Braun, a spy. Hitler had not been the only power-hungry German to be interested in the alternate reality project, you see — the Illuminati also had plans for the technology.
In the early days of the Cold War, the United States had a distinct advantage over the Soviet Union, having developed both Superhero technology and the atomic bomb. Soviet espionage, however, quickly led to replication of both technologies and it soon became clear that other technologies would have to be pursued in order to maintain America's edge and assure that the New American Justice Coalition would remain a match for the Soviet Protection Comrades. In October of 1957, however, any illusion of American technological superiority was dashed when the U.S.S.R. surprised the world with the successful launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite into Earth orbit.
In response President Eisenhower committed American recourses to the space race, knowing that space exploration might lead to new technologies, and especially to new methods of superpowers endowment. The latter suspicion was confirmed after Laika, the dog sent into space with Sputnik 2, returned to Earth— a significant event in and of itself since the Soviet engineers had not built the satellite to return to Earth. Though behind at first, America hurried to catch up with the Soviets. In 1957, Project Mercury began and by 1962 NASA succeeded in launching President Kennedy into low Earth orbit, where he was bombarded with cosmic rays that granted him the superpower to stretch his body in any way he chose.
Project Apollo Begins
Though Project Mercury had been successful at endowing the President with superpowers, it had not been as cost effective a method as the Manhattan Project's serum. Kennedy thus challenged the nation to a much greater goal: to put a man on the moon before the decade was out, for surely this would produce an even greater superpower. Just to be safe, however, Kennedy also added additional research areas to the Apollo Project, including a restarted alternate reality program staffed by the German defectors.
Alternate Reality Program Reborn
With the alternate reality program back in action again, the Illuminati once again took interest and began to insert more of their own operatives into the research team. With the high profile focus on the Lunar missions, the infiltrators soon had great control over the extra-dimensional project, and using their secret knowledges they were successful as early as the spring of 1963, sending an old and unused satellite through their dimensional gateway as a probe. Dubbing the alternate reality XDR-01, the scientists were shocked by what they found there: an alternate Earth ruled entirely by damned dirty apes!
Worried, the researchers sent out probes to many other dimensions in hope of determining whether human life was dominant throughout various planes of existence. What they found reassured them that human life was dominant, but it also amazed them with the variety of deviations in history that could occur. Out of the hundred random realities surveyed, they found 20 in which the South had won the Civil War, thirteen in which someone had expected the Spanish Inquisition, three in which women were the dominant sex, two in which France had once won a war, and one in which the civilization kept all of its knowledge on a computer database which any member of the community could edit.
The Illuminati infiltrators might have gone unnoticed in their research but for what happened next. In 1967 the scientists had completed their survey of 100 realities and had even managed to send and safely return several test animals from alternate realities, even learning how to re-establish contact with a specific reality after severing contact. For the next phase of their research, several factors in the dimensional gate were altered and the result was a gateway to a reality that gave off readings unlike any other. The researchers explored the qualities of the dimension, which seemed to be in many ways the opposite of ours, but it was not until an important test for the public part of the Apollo project took place that they learned the dimension's true nature.
On January 27th, an important test for the Apollo Project's manned space flight program took place. Three astronauts boarded the Apollo spacecraft for a test-run of the systems in a 100% oxygen environment. The test, however, was a failure. A fire sparked inside the capsule and the astronauts perished, unable to open the hatch. Publicly, NASA claimed the accident was the result an electrical failing, but internally they discovered that nothing had gone wrong. Everything should have worked. Even stranger, the scientists at the alternate dimension project noted that their Apollo 1 test module was identical to the one in the alternate reality they were currently researching, and it had not caught fire. Finally it dawned on the Illuminati researchers: they had opened up a link to a bizzaro universe. What's more, they had inadvertently caused the test to explode simply by virtue of the bizzaro reality's test succeeding.
The accident drew fire from elected officials opposed to NASA and soon a Senate committee, led by Walter Mondale, was investigating the incident. While the Illuminati could safely hide the real cause of the accident from most of the Senators, they could not hide it from Mondale, for he had come upon the great treasure of the Illuminati — the secret decoder ring — which he used to force them into revealing their secret. With Mondale having discovered both the alternate reality project and its infiltration by the Illuminati, the project seemed doomed, but instead Mondale struck a bargain with the infiltrators.
Under the bargain, the scientists could only access the bizzaro universe sparingly, so as not to cause further disruption in the public manned space-flight division of Apollo, and when they did, they were to limit their activities to choosing between various bizzaro universes, and to researching long term effects of existing in such a universe. For what reason, Mondale would not say.
Under the arrangement the team was also to explore more non-bizzaro alternate universes for potential discoveries, but they were not to meddle in these worlds. While Mondale kept the Illuminati in check in our universe, he could not do so in all of the other dimensions. True to the agreement they were careful and conducted the proscribed research on the bizzaro universe, but they kept an extra-dimensional base from which to interfere in other realities. Because of Mondale, however, none of this spilled over into our universe.
Following the bargain, both major threads of the Apollo Project advanced steadily. Further attempts at space flight were successful and the nation grew closer to the moment that a man would walk on the moon, and the alternate reality project began to glean valuable information from the spies it placed in alternate dimensions. In particular the Illuminati desired to implement a piece of technology obtained from reality XDR-314, the superlaser destruction beam, and this desire only grew as the possibility of successfully manning the weapon from space grew. What they lacked, however, was a reason for the weapon to exist. If they were to simply produce the weapon with no need for it, then others would ask questions about how and when they discovered such technology.
Such an opportunity presented itself for the Illuminati in the summer of 1969. Not only did Bryan Adams get his first six-string, but the public face of the Apollo Project landed a man on the moon. The country was overjoyed at the achievement, but when the astronauts returned with footage of the moon landing, NASA noticed something approaching our world in the background of the photos. It appeared to be a giant purple man, a fact which greatly concerned the scientists. They were right to be concerned, in fact, for the object was none other than Galactus, devourer of worlds.
Seizing the opportunity, the Illuminati infiltrators insisted that a weapon must be constructed to defend against the unknown threat. Furthermore, they argued, it must be done in-house, for if the knowledge of our imminent danger became widely known, then the public would panic. They were given the go-ahead and quickly 'invented' an awesome new weapon to defend earth. The day that weapon would be needed approached quickly. In early 1973, Galactus approached and the world was forced to call on its mightiest heroes — the New American Justice Coalition.
NAJC Battles Galactus
The upcoming Apollo 18 launch was quickly cancelled, and in its place the two living members of the New American Justice Coalition, Richard Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson, blasted off with a prototype of the superlaser destruction beam to face the giant space monster. The battle was epic as Earth's greatest warriors faced the mighty planet-destroyer in the vacuum of space, but soon the tide began to turn against our leaders. Even the power of Nixon's Hulk unleashed could not fell the giant creature, and the weapon could only fend off Galactus for so long.
Finally our heroes designed a last ditch plan. They rigged the superlaser destruction beam to overload and destroy itself in a mighty explosion. Johnson used his super speed to plant the improvised bomb on Galactus, running away only at the last second, so as to ensure that Galactus could not destroy or escape it. The plan worked in almost every way: Galactus was so badly injured that he left the solar system straightaway, and Johnson was able to escape. Unfortunately, the explosion blew a small hole in Johnson's space suit and by the time Nixon had reverted from his Hulk form and retrieved Johnson, the elderly ex-President had been severely weakened by lack of air and exposure to cold, and as a result he died soon after returning to Earth. For the first time since Truman, the New American Justice Coalition had just one member.
Close of the Apollo Project
The cancellation of Apollo 18 turned out to be only the first in a series that extended to all of the Apollo Project's missions as NASA's spaceflight division refocused on less ambitious goals. The covert operations of the Apollo Project were also largely shelved by Nixon, who was still bitter about the death of his teammate Johnson and felt that the results of the project were insufficient. Nixon also felt that members of the project were out to get him. He was right, of course, though not because he knew anything, but because he thought everyone was out to get him. With the project cancelled, several of the Illuminati scientists fled to reality XDR-347, which also had an Illuminati-infiltrated Apollo Project. Most of them bided their time, however, for they had an ally on the rise in Washington.
In 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected President and he brought Walter Mondale with him to the White House. Mondale, still pursuing his unknown plan, convinced Carter to restart the program and to appoint Illuminati members, who he could control. Carter would not give them what they truly wanted, however, for he banned all work on the advanced superlaser. Instead they continued their bizzaro research and waited for a more military-minded executive.
Star-Wars Defense Initiative
That opportunity came with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Already determined to challenge the Soviets when he entered office, Reagan was spurred to greater determination when he learned of the still secret battle between the Justice Coalition and Galactus. Worried that space communists might someday challenge the American way of life, Reagan initiated the Star-Wars Defense Initiative, and as part of that initiative he secretly restarted the Apollo Project in its entirety. Directing the space-flight division and the covert division to cooperate, he began plans to turn Mimas, a faraway moon of Saturn, into a giant weapon based around a massive version of the superlaser destruction beam.
This was a great amount of power for the Illuminati, who had successfully infiltrated all levels of command at the project, but at first they could not make use of this power because Mondale continued to hold them in check. That would all change in 1984, however, as Mondale's long held plan came to fruition. Ordering the Illuminati to open and maintain a link to a new bizzaro reality, Mondale ran a thoroughly self-destructive Presidential campaign, losing the election but causing his bizzaro counterpart to win it by a landslide. Just before inauguration he left this universe to assume the place of his double — and the Presidency — in the bizzaro universe. At long last, Mondale was gone and could no longer hold the infiltrators at bay. Thus began the Illuminati's master plan, which would not come to fruition for another decade.
The Secret Wars
All these events came to a conclusion in a series of events shrouded in mystery, but collectively termed the Secret Wars. A full sixty years since they were set into motion, all of these events culminated in a great interdimensional war fought by the fully assembled members of the New American Justice Coaltion.
It began on March 22, when an alien figure crossed through the dimensional gateway into our reality and quickly "bamf"-ed away, disappearing in a puff of smoke before the Illuminati researchers could capture him. The figure was an extradimensional Spiro Agnew, who had been president in the reality in which some of our Illuminati had earlier taken refuge. He came here to enlist the help of our reality's Justice Coalition and to warn us that the Illuminati might betray us just as they had done in his reality.
Though no one will say exactly what occurred in the Secret Wars, we know that it was partly fought here and partly in reality XDR-347, and that by its end Richard Nixon was dead, Ronald Reagan was losing his memories, Jimmy Carter had lost his adamantium, and the moon of Mimas had been destroyed. For more than a decade, the remnants of the Apollo Project were dormant, and most assumed that the war was over; but perhaps there is more to come, for just recently a single blood-spattered photo slipped through the dimensional gateway from XDR-347...