Come on Man! The Moon Landing Conspiracy… Conspiracy

People love a good conspiracy theory. A 1999 Gallup poll reported six percent of people believe the moon landings were faked. An additional five percent indicated they were still undecided about the “moon landing conspiracy.”

Moon Landing Conspiracy Claims

The explanations surrounding the persistence of the “NASA faked the moon landings” claims include some pretty creative reasoning.

  • It’s impossible for people to have walked on the moon because the moon is made of light.
  • The landings were filmed on a sound stage either somewhere in the Hollywood Hills or hidden within Area 51 with the aid of 2001: A Space Odyssey filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.
  • When Buzz Aldrin planted the flag, it was moving as if by wind. That’s impossible in the vacuum of space.
  • All those micrometeorites that have been bombarding the moon for eons would have instantly perforated Neil and Buzz. Besides, they would have died from exposure to the Van Allen radiation belt on the way there.
  • Camera lens crosshairs etched onto the lens glass were covered by astronauts and other objects in the photos. Unpossible!
  • Stars aren’t visible in the photos.
  • Where’s the blast crater underneath the lunar lander?
  • Shadows of various objects in the same photo frame aren’t parallel.

The list goes on, with the most egregious being that the Apollo 1 launch pad fire that killed Command Pilot Gus Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee was a government-sponsored hit aimed at stopping the trio from going public with the fakery.

The Moon Landing Conspiracy Begins

The moon landing conspiracy arguably started, or at least gained steam with the release of the book We Never Went to the Moon by Bill Kaysing, a technical presentations specialist with Rocketdyne Propulsion Field Laboratory from 1956 to 1963. Kaysing claimed the role of insider whistleblower on the moon landing being a made-up hoax. The gist was that NASA was capable of putting ships and astronauts in orbit but not landing them on the moon. Massive pressure to “beat the Russians” supposedly led to an elaborate fakery of the actual moon landings.

Apollo Moon Landing Conspiracy… Debunked

While we can’t spend the next week going through all the details of debunking, we can touch on some of the highlights.

As for the “moon is made of light” thing, I suppose someone ought to alert to tides that the moon isn’t really moving them around.

Approximately 600 million people watched the moon landings on live television. I love the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey as much as the next geek, but come on, man, the special effects aren’t exactly compelling enough to fool a TV audience of hundreds of millions.

Where are all the stars? Image: NASA

No stars? The photos from the moon landings were taken in lunar daylight. While the sky is black, stars aren’t going to be highly visible to a camera with a necessarily small aperture setting for those bright and reflective lunar surface conditions.

Fake shadows!!! Image: NASA

Non-parallel shadows? It’s called perspective. You can replicate this effect yourself when the sun is low in the sky. Many of the lunar landing conspiracy theories don’t properly account for ginormous environmental differences between the Earth and moon, like vacuum conditions, low gravity, complete lack of dust or haze in the air and the myriad of highly reflective surfaces present.

As for the flag? Well, Buzz was rocking the flag to plant the pole in the lunar dirt. And the flag was designed with a horizontal support bar inside the top seam of the flag itself. A week or so of being stuffed into a tube, combined with incomplete extension of the support rod, and… voila! Ripples in the flag material, but no movement from the non-existent lunar wind.

And the list of debunked myths goes on and on… In 2009, a lunar reconnaissance orbiter mapped the moon using cameras with orders of magnitude improved resolution. Guess what? The landing sites are all there in plain view. With no wind or rain, those footprints will be around for 75 percent of forever. And, of course, there are the 838 pounds of lunar rocks returned to Earth, which have subsequently been examined by thousands of scientists around the world. They’re real. Even France agrees.

But to me, the biggest debunker in the schoolyard is human nature itself. Somewhere over 400,000 people were involved in the space program. Isn’t it weird that not one of them has spilled the beans in the past 50+ years? You know what they say. Three people can keep a secret—if two of them are dead.

While few dispute Saturn V rockets took off from the Florida coast, many don’t believe we actually completed the finale of a moon landing. There’s a fascinating book, Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module, by Chief Engineer Tom Kelly. He ran the Grumman development program, where some 7,000 employees, including 3,000 engineers, designed and built the lunar landers. It’s a great read for a rainy day.

That’s a lot of people doing a lot of fake work for a lot of fake years for a fake machine designed to perform a fake moon landing.

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