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This Happened

This Happened - April 29: The U.S. Evacuates Saigon

In April of 1975, as North Vietnamese troops approached the southern capital of Saigon, U.S. President Gerald Ford ordered the evacuation of all Americans from the country.

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How did the fall of Saigon happen?

After years of conflict, the North Vietnamese army launched a final offensive on South Vietnam in 1975. As the North Vietnamese army advanced towards Saigon, the South Vietnamese army and government collapsed. At the end of April, North Vietnamese troops entered Saigon, and the South Vietnamese government surrendered.

What were the consequences of the fall of Saigon?

The fall of Saigon led to the unification of Vietnam under Communist rule. Many South Vietnamese who had worked with the American military or government were imprisoned or sent to "re-education" camps. The United States and other countries accepted thousands of refugees from South Vietnam, many of whom resettled in the U.S.

How was the evacuation of Saigon conducted?

The U.S. military conducted a massive evacuation effort, which involved the deployment of helicopters, transport planes, and naval vessels. U.S. personnel and Vietnamese civilians were airlifted from Saigon to ships waiting in the South China Sea. The operation was known as Operation Frequent Wind. The evacuation of Saigon was widely covered by the media, and many Americans were shocked by the images of chaos and desperation.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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