What happened to the crew of America's first interstellar mission?
The crew fully assembled prior to America's historic launch of its first interstellar star probe in 1972, pictured left to right, Ansanauts Dodge, Taylor, Stewart, and Landon
But 2006 years later, on the other side of the mysterious Hasslein Curve, lost in both space and time, it is a far different story.
Lieutenant Catherine Stewart giving an eerie semblance to the children's fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" as she lies preserved in suspended animation, sealed within her glass case.
Stewart dies in her sleep during the mission flight when her suspended animation chamber malfunctions. It is not known if the crack in her suspended animation chamber happened during the flight or during the reentry procedure. Her mummified remains vanish forever beneath the waves with the crippled "Icarus" when it sinks.
Lieutenant Mathew Dodge, the calm and collected scientist whom Landon once described as "a man who would walk naked into a volcano if he thought he could learn something that no one else knew."
Dodge is killed when he is shot in the back of the neck by rifle armed gorillas during the hunt. His corpse is stuffed and then put on permanent display in a human animal history museum, leading to an eerie and unwelcome surprise when Taylor discovers him in this state during Taylor's abortive escape attempt. Dodge, a man who has studied science his whole life is instead now studied by intelligent simian scientists ... as a museum piece.
Landon, the eternal optimist, a man who said he was not afraid to die for his country...
... is instead sentenced to a living death as he undergoes a primitive frontal lobotomy at the hands of chimpanzee veterinarians and is reduced to a vegetable. There is evidence presented in the second movie that Landon later suffers the same fate as Dodge. Cornelius tells Brent that Taylor's two friends are on display in the museum, implying that Landon has either died from his injuries / operation or been killed in an act of revenge by the militant apes after Taylor and Nova escape Ape City but before Brent and Skipper arrive.
Colonel George Taylor, commander of the mission and ultimately, the discoverer of the horrible truth ...
Taylor escapes into the Forbidden Zone with his new mate, Nova.
There he discovers that they are not on an unknown planet, but have returned to Earth 2006 years in the far future, long after nuclear war has wiped out civilization as he knows.
In its place is a new type of civilization where simians rule over humans and man is little more than an animal. A planet of apes.
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