Here is my own personal version of what happened (history).
After Kennedy was out of the way, back in late 1963, the people of the world wanted to see the American flag on the moon. Well, maybe just half of them wanted that flag. If Kennedy said it’s possible to do so before the hedonistic 70’s begin, then his successors must deliver on that promise.
So the shadow gov turned to the egg-headed scientists of NASA, some of whom were former party members (and we all remember that party). Can we place an American flag on the moon and make it look like Iwo Jima? A lunar selfy, maybe?
Von-Braun said: “Sure, it can be done. I can setup a McDonald’s outlet right on the beach of the Sea of Tranquility. The sales department will love it.”
“Beautiful” said shadow gov Y. “When can we expect delivery?”
Werner’s facial muscles were softly solid and calm. “Around Rosh HaShana, 5775.”
Y’s face was a-puzzled. He turned to look over his right shoulder and conferred silently with a balding, yet ageless-looking consultant.
“That’s almost 15 years into the next millennium. Unacceptable. The martyr movie-star president said ‘by the end of this decade’, so anything beyond the 73 middle-eastern skirmish is out of the question.”
Doc Braun frowned for the first time. “By 1973 we might be advanced enough to use robots to put up the first arch of the restaurant’s rotating, bouncing logo marquee out front. That’s about it. We need at least 30 additional years of non-stop research and bi-weekly global Zen meditations to place 3 live ferrets on top one of the dunes up there. However, they won’t be able to carry (let alone plant) any flag over six inches long.”
“Hrmpth” went Y in a singular display of imbalance. “We’ll be in touch, Doc. Keep working on it. Money isn’t an issue, just get it done.”
Several years passed and no tangible progress was made in NASA’s factories and laboratories, despite the ridiculous money that was pouring their way. Their Russian counterparts seemed to be ahead, and to the Russians NASA seemed to be leading. But they were both faced with the same cosmic facts about the big blue marble. It was beginning to dawn on the ones in the know that nothing alive could stay alive when it physically ventures too far away from its Mother.
So shadow gov Y’s itinerary was set for a mansion near Hollywood. Mr. Bob O’Brien of MGM studios was there with his Head of production Bob Weitman. Both Bobs were awaiting a visit by a top-echelon man, whose name remained unknown after he later left.
Y wasted no time once seated, and went straight to the point. “I’d like to rent out one of your studios in the UK for one weekend. Name your price.”
Bob looked at his Head and asked “which studio?”
“The one managed by your director Stan Kubrick. I believe he’s currently working there on a science fiction feature. The sets he has put together are just what we need for our current global PR project. I’m not at liberty to divulge any further details about our business in your studio over the weekend we’ll need it, but I can assure you that you’ll learn all about it along with the rest of the world eventually.”
The Bobs knew very little about Y and the people he represented. Lucky for them, they were very experienced in knowing an offer that cannot be refused when they heard it. It’s plain dangerous to turn such offers down.
So one of the Bobs named his price, Y’s operators picked up the tab, and history was televised into existence on July 1969.
The MGM science fiction feature “2001” was released well in advance (April ’68) as a teaser in disguise.