The Secret Memorial on the Moon for Fallen Astronauts and Cosmonauts

Located in Hadley Rille on the northern hemisphere of the moon, there is a small sculpture of an astronaut and a plaque that carries the names of 14 astronauts and cosmonauts who lost their lives during space exploration. This memorial is known as the Fallen Astronaut.

American astronaut David Scott met Belgian painter and sculptor Paul Van Hoeydonck before his Apollo 15 lunar mission and requested him to create a small statuette to commemorate all the astronauts and cosmonauts who died while pursuing space exploration. Van Hoeydonck was given specific design requirements by Scott, including that the sculpture had to be lightweight and capable of withstanding the extreme temperatures of the moon. Scott himself designed and created a plaque listing the names of the fallen astronauts and cosmonauts.

Scott got permission from NASA to take the sculpture to space with him and secretly placed it on the bed of a dry channel on the moon’s surface during his mission. He publicly announced the memorial after returning from his mission. However, one year later, Scott learned that Van Hoeydonck was planning to produce and sell more sculptures, which violated NASA’s policy about commercialization. Under pressure from NASA and fellow astronauts, Van Hoeydonck decided not to sell any more sculptures, although he had already produced 50.

The Fallen Astronaut Honors Those Who Sacrificed for Space Exploration

Even today, the figure of the Fallen Astronaut remains on the surface of the Moon, serving as a reminder of the sacrifices made to advance our exploration of space. It is likely that it will continue to stand for many more years, honoring those who gave their lives so that we could reach for the stars.


1. What is the Fallen Astronaut memorial?

The Fallen Astronaut is a small aluminum sculpture of an astronaut, created by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck. It was placed on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, as a tribute to the astronauts and cosmonauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of space exploration.

2. Why was the memorial placed in secret?

The memorial was placed in secret because it was not authorized by NASA, and the astronauts who placed it on the moon did not inform their superiors. They wanted to honor their fallen comrades without drawing attention to themselves or causing any controversy.

3. Who was the Fallen Astronaut?

The Fallen Astronaut is not a specific person, but rather a symbol of all the astronauts and cosmonauts who have died in the line of duty. The name “Fallen Astronaut” was chosen to represent all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of space exploration.

4. Is the Fallen Astronaut still on the moon?

Yes, the Fallen Astronaut is still on the moon. It was placed on the surface during the Apollo 15 mission and has not been moved since then. It is located near the Hadley Rille, a lunar valley on the southeastern edge of the Mare Imbrium.

5. Is the Fallen Astronaut the only memorial on the moon?

No, the Fallen Astronaut is not the only memorial on the moon. In addition to the Fallen Astronaut, there are several other small memorials and tributes on the moon, including a plaque left by the Apollo 11 mission and a memorial to the Soviet cosmonauts who died in the space race.

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