ANSA stands for the American National Space Administration. We are told in the 2011 novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes that ANSA was split from NASA in order to minimise the risk of communist infiltration into their highly experimental research.
ANSA launched the Probe Six into orbit around Earth for three days, piloted by former NASA astronauts Bill Hudson, Maryann Stewart and Judy Franklin. Stewart and Franklin became the first American women in space during this mission, though this was not made public. A Probe Seven craft was also developed, but a disastrous test flight by George Taylor, Eddie Rowark and Alan Virdon resulted in Rowark's death. ANSA's Juno mission travelled from Mars to Jupiter with a crew of six astronauts in hibernation pods - Commander Robert Marx, Lieutenant James Patrick, Maryann Stewart, Gabriel "Gabby" Combs, John Landon and Edward "Jonesy" Jones. The Juno was partially a test run for the secretive 'Project Liberty' (five Liberty ships were reverse engineered from technology of classified origin, and were propelled by an experimental photon propulsion drive designed by Dr. Otto Hasslein), and for Dr. Hasslein's experimental 'X-Comm' communication equipment which took up almost one third of the space on the Juno. Their other objective was to deliver the 'Flag' - a radiation-powered satellite with US colours and anthem which would orbit Jupiter's insubstantial surface, laying territorial claim to the planet. The same was planned for Saturn. However, not all went according to plan and three of the crew were killed. Landon was injured by an indirect blast of radiation from the X-Comm, and Jones by high-velocity shards of ice. Having completed their tasks, the surviving crew then discovered a Soviet satellite containing the corpse of a monkey cosmonaut named Gregori, meaning that the planet had already been claimed.
ANSA was responsible for the spacecraft Liberty 1 which launched from Cape Kennedy on 14 January 1972 (and first flew onto the silver screen and into the hearts and minds of fans around the world in the 1968 film Planet of the Apes). Nicknamed "Icarus" (by fan Larry Evans) after the tragic Greek myth, the dart-like spacecraft, under the command of USAF Colonel George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston), carried four astronauts across the heavens at nearly the speed of light - George Taylor, John Landon, Maryann Stewart and Thomas Dodge. Due to the theories of physicist Dr. Hasslein, regarding a vessel moving faster than the speed of light, after six months on the craft the crew placed themselves into a state of suspended animation using a special drug to keep them sedated, and confined themselves to stasis pods. Taylor, the leader of the expedition, hoped that the universe would contain forms of life that were superior to that found on Earth. Landon was an ambitious man of around 31, who wanted to leave a lasting legacy. Dodge was a man of science with a thirst for knowledge of the unknown. The crew were to "pollinate" the stars if something went wrong and they found themselves stranded. Taylor regarded Stewart as "the most precious cargo we brought along... she was... to be the new 'Eve'."
An ANSA-produced information film, made before the launch, included biographies of the crew:
- "Lieutenant Thomas Dodge serves as head science officer. At the relatively young age of 35, Lieutenant Dodge exhibits the vision of a man with twice his years. He admits yearning to find intelligent life at the crew's ultimate destination. A dream he has often discussed as professor of organic chemistry at Annapolis."
- "Colonel George Taylor leads the team into space. West Point graduate, class of '41, ace fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War, Colonel Taylor became the first candidate of ANSA's elite astronaut corps. When asked why he would leave behind the world he knew to explore the vastness of deep space, he answered simply, "For the promise of a better world."
- "Lieutenant Maryann Stewart, 33, is both a career astronaut and a respected biological researcher. A veteran of ANSA's Apollo and Juno space programs, she brings experience, curiosity, and old-fashioned guts to the team."
- "Lieutenant John Landon serves as navigator on board the Liberty 1. Distinguishing himself as navigator on ANSA's Juno Mars mission, Lieutenant Landon automatically became the prime choice for the Liberty Project. After searching their souls and weighing the sacrifice, John and his wife proudly chose to add the Lieutenant's talents to the mission. His infant son Mike will grow to manhood knowing that his father bravely conquered nothing less than time and space."
- "Two first alternates round out the crew - ... Brent, 34, and Colonel Skipper Donovan, 38."
It seems the crew planned to spend twelve months in suspended animation, a total of eighteen months on the ship, which would have propelled the vessel forward through time well over two thousand years according to Hasslein's theory. However, Stewart's stasis pod malfunctioned and an air leak caused her to die shortly after entering it. Three months after the crew entered hibernation, the Liberty 1 collided with a ship exactly identical with itself. Living up to the "Icarus" name, it fell from the sky, stricken and crippled, to splash down in an uncharted inland sea on a desolate planet in the year 3978 AD, two thousand and six years after it had departed Earth and about eleven months into the crew's stasis. Back at ANSA, the X-Comm technology allowed Dr. Hasslein to monitor progress, and it was noted that communications abruptly stopped en route to Centaurus.
The male crew revived and found the dessicated remains of Stewart's body in her pod. They were forced to evacuate the ship as it quickly began to sink to the bottom of the lake. However, Landon's location transmission signal from the TX-9 somehow found its way back through the time distortion to the place they had left. The three men made it to the shore and found the air breathable but the surrounding area barren and lifeless. Eventually, they found vegetation and a tribe of mute savage white humans, and abandoned their ANSA uniforms. They then discovered that this world was also populated by horseback-riding, talking apes, who hunted humans. Dodge was shot and killed, his corpse later stuffed and displayed in the Great Hall of the 'Zaius Museum of Natural Science' (partly due to his darker skin color). Landon was captured and was later lobotomized by ape leader Dr. Zaius. Taylor was shot in the throat and taken to Ape City, but was unable to speak or communicate with the apes for some time. He eventually escaped back into the 'Forbidden Zone', realized that the planet was in fact Earth, and was soon taken prisoner again by a race of telepathic human mutants. In the meantime, ape scientist Dr. Milo had recovered the wreckage of Taylor's ship and somehow restored it to working order.
Despite the fact that the Liberty 1 was unlikely to return from it's mission, ANSA considered sending a second Liberty craft along the same trajectory upon receiving Landon's transmission, either as a rescue mission or, more likely, as a suicide mission which would nevertheless prove Dr. Hasslein's time-travel theory. Crewed by John Brent and 'Skipper' Maddox, their ship crash-landed violently on Earth not far from where the Liberty 1 had crashed earlier. Shortly after landing, 'Skipper' died from his injuries and Brent buried him at the crash site. Brent came into contact with a native human and learned that Taylor had nearly ended up a museum specimen "like his two friends" (suggesting either a deceased Landon or the recovered corpse of Stewart was displayed alongside Dodge by that point). Reunited with Taylor within the mutant city (Taylor seemed to know Brent only vaguely), they escaped their prison cell while the apes attacked the mutants. Trying to prevent the activation of the twentieth-century Alpha-Omega Bomb, both were shot by the apes, with Taylor slumping onto the launch controls of the weapon, destroying the entire planet. Moments earlier, Dr. Milo and two of his ape colleagues test-flew the repaired Liberty 1 and followed it's previous path in reverse, leading them back to 1973. They landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, with the ship staying afloat and being towed to the shore. It's not explained how long the return journey took, or if it required a period in stasis, but the three apes wore full space-suits and helmets upon arrival, which did not bear the ANSA logo. The recovered ship was taken away for inspection and found to be Colonel Taylor's.
In 1980, three astronauts on the ANSA ship Probe Six, on a routine mission to Alpha Centauri, suddenly got caught in "radioactive turbulence". Jones activated the Automatic Homing Device before all three passed out. The ship crashed in a woodland region of the Western United States, at least 1000 years after they had left Earth. Jones was killed instantly and was buried by a gorilla soldier, but his two colleagues, Colonel Alan J. Virdon and Major Peter J. Burke, survived and spent some time as fugitives from the ape authorities. It is conceivable that these astronauts had come from a timeline unaltered by the arrival of Dr. Milo, as they were shocked to find talking apes on Earth, and found a photo of a high-tech New York dated 2503 - some five centuries after Caesar's revolution should have brought an end to human civilisation. Ape leaders Zaius and Urko spoke of another spaceship having landed ten years before the Probe Six, but whether this was an ANSA craft, or what era it had originated from, was never further explained.
- The ANSA name was defined in the 'ANSA Public Service Announcement' video included with the 2008 Blu-Ray release of the classic film pentalogy.
- A previous alternate suggestion for the organisation's name was Aeronautics and National Space Administration.
- A Marvel Comics article from 1976 added a few other, not entirely serious, possibilities: Associated Nations Space Agency, Assume Native Simians Abound, Absolutely Nobody Sentient Around.
- The meters onboard Taylor's ship suggest a launch date of January 14th 1972; Taylor records his final report six months later, to the hour - July 14th 1972 on the 'Ship Time' chronometer. According to the 'Earth Time' chronometer at that point, the date on Earth is March 23rd to 27th, 2673 - 701 years, 2 months and 13 days having elapsed. This equates to a rate of approximately 1415 days passing on Earth for every 1 day aboard the craft (or about 59 days per hour). After the ship crashes, the Earth Time reads November 25th, 3978. The Ship Time isn't shown, but the corresponding reading at that rate would be approximately June 16th 1973 - a further 11 months having been spent in cryogenic hibernation; Taylor subsequently confirms that Stewart has been dead 'nearly a year'. Landon then concludes they've been away from Earth for 18 months (rather than 17 months, although he didn't see the chronometers). If they had expected to awake after exactly 18 months on the craft - July 14th 1973 - then the Earth Time should have read approx. May 16th, 4087. However, the ship entering a Hasslein Curve would presumably have had serious effects on the equipment and it's ability to accurately gauge the passage of time. Taylor's final report, sent out before entering his sleep chamber, wouldn't reach Earth until about June of 3374. The 'signal to Earth' sent upon crash-landing couldn't be expected to arrive until at least October of 5985.
- The 'ANSA Public Service Announcement' featured in the 2008 Blu-Ray edition of the Planet of the Apes collection gave detailed predictions of the project: the craft was to launch on January 14th 1972; on reaching it's intended destination the 'Astronaut Time' (Ship Time) would be June 14th 1973, while the comparative 'Earth Time' would be June 14th 3972. These calculations are based on a 17-month journey, rather than the 18-month journey mentioned by Landon.
- In the Blam! Ventures illustrated novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, published in 2011, Landon recalls the ANSA party to announce the Liberty 1, which was attended by Hasslein's colleague Doctor Stanton, his assistant Karl, Doctor Krigstein and PR man Templeton. The book explained what happened to Landon between his capture by the apes and his reunion with Taylor. The inlay cover of the book contained the blueprints for the five Liberty spacecraft.
- A fan-produced 'Briefing Dossier' for the Presidential Commission of Inquiry gave ANSA the full name Advanced Nuclear Stellar Acceleration - a project run by NASA to develop near-light-speed space travel. The same document hypothesised that the aim of the project was to visit, and safely return from, alien planets, and that Dr. Hasslein's theory that the astronauts would travel forward in time during their journey was disputed and disbelieved by the senior scientists behind the project. This would explain why a rescue mission was sent after the disappearance of the initial flight. Taylor believed Hasslein's theory and saw the ship's clock as proof that return was impossible, to the dismay of Landon. The dossier also suggested that Taylor's space craft - carrying Zira, Cornelius and Milo - had reappeared off the coast of California on September 13, 1973.
- Promotional photos were taken of the Liberty 1 crew, some including Stewart and others just the males - bearded and with slightly longer hair. The outdoor 'trek' scenes were the first to be shot for the original movie (at Page, Arizona, May 21, 1967) at which time Charlton Heston had grown a beard but his colleagues required false beards. Robert Gunner (Landon) filmed his arena/lobotomy scene around 22 June, and all three filmed the hunt scene around 14-17 July, on the Fox Ranch in Los Angeles. The post-crash ship interior scenes were shot in the Fox studio on 18-21 July and Jeff Burton (Dodge) appeared as a glass-eyed museum exhibit around 21 July. It's not clear exactly when the opening ship interior scene - featuring the three clean shaven men with Dianne Stanley (Stewart) - was shot, though it seems likely it was soon after this. The promo pictures were probably taken on the corresponding filming days. It is possible to consider the 'before' pictures to be "in universe", as they show the astronaut crew about to leave Earth. (See Also: Pictures from the set of 'Planet of the Apes (1968)')
- Taylor remarks on 14 July 1972 that it is exactly six months - Ship Time - since his ship launched from Cape Kennedy.
- Glossary to the Planet Of The Apes Jim Whitmore (1976)
- Yahoo Planet of the Apes Discussion Group
- Blam! Ventures
- Fan-produced 'Briefing Dossier' for the Presidential Commission