Apollo 10 was only supposed to be a dress rehearsal. Launched just two months before Neil Armstrong's historic first steps, this mission was meant to go through the motions and procedures of a lunar landing, without actually touching down on the moon's surface. They were successful in this regard, setting the stage for the defining milestone in human spaceflight. But along the way, the three brave astronauts encountered one of the great cosmic mysteries of our time: Someone was pooping all over the place, and we still don't know who it was.
We've revisited the declassified transcript of day six, a closer reading of which reveals that the enduring whodunnit may have implications far beyond our wildest imagination. Have a look:
As you can see, Commander Tom Stafford spots the floater first, immediately springing into action to dispose of the evidence. You'll notice that his excuse—that his previous turds had been stickier—is more detailed than the other defenses. Interesting, yes, but far from conclusive.
Now, a single loose poo is unremarkable, a gross but dismissible reality for these pioneering astronauts. But eight minutes later, a second dung emerges, this one detected by Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan.
By now, both Commander Stafford and Commander Module Pilot Josh Young are claiming distinctively sticky poos. Cernan, too, offers a definitive analysis of his own space nuggets, which he's felt to be "too soft." But, given the short time frame between the debut and encore episodes, one wonders when Cernan might have had the opportunity for this firsthand examination, unless he was already in the habit of fecal prodding.
The evolution of Cernan's story is also curious. While his initial reaction is to cast blame ("What's the matter with you guys?"), the module pilot eventually concedes that he can't decisively deny his involvement. Eyebrow-raising indeed.
There is, however, a tertiary clue that past analyses seemed to have missed. What follows is an excerpt of a conversation from eight hours earlier:
This preceding exchange, at times inscrutable, raises more questions than it answers. It appears that the Apollo 10 team has colluded on some sort of illicit, off-board dumping maneuver, but with part of the text redacted, we're left to complete the puzzle on our own.
I'll posit one theory: Could the ensuing unclaimed floaters be the product of some sort of extraterrestrial crap-for-crap retribution? Reasonably offended by the earlier cosmic poo-littering, a local alien race exacted their revenge by transmitting the two faeces into the spacecraft. Such a scenario would explain the above redactions, and only under this premise does our heroic voyagers' denial remain truthful. Perhaps the lunar poo-rivalry escalated, a prospect bolstered by the fact that we haven't been back to the moon since 1972.
Alas, we may eventually come to realize that we are not equipped to answer life's most mystifying questions. Why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? And who kept pooping during the Apollo 10 mission?