Moon landing conspiracy theory

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NASA image AS11-40-5903,[1] cropped from the bottom and the sides but not from the top

The moon landing conspiracy theory (also known as Moon landing hoax or Apollo hoax) is the belief that men did not land on the Moon in 1969–1972 during the Apollo program and that NASA faked the evidence. Some conspiracy theorists believe the Skylab space station is also a hoax.[2](p. 162)[3]

This belief is considered by the scientific community and historians to be irrational. But on the internet, the debate can occur since it is easy for anyone to publish their ideas.[4] There are entire subcultures within the USA and substantial cultures around the world that believe that the Moon landings were faked. This view is taught in Cuban schools and wherever else Cuban teachers are sent (Nicaragua, Angola, etc.).[5][6][7] It is also shared by the Taliban[8] and by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.[9][10][11]

History[change | change source]

On 12 April 1961, the USSR sent the first man into space in Vostok 1, Yuri Gagarin.[12] Six weeks later, US President John Kennedy promised a manned Moon landing by 1969 to win the battle of systems and impress the world with technical superiority:[13]

Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take.

Moon conspiracy theorists say that NASA had too many technical problems to meet the eight year deadline for going to the moon. But the USA could not afford to appear lose the race to the moon to the Soviet Union, and so the moon landings were faked.[14] In 2004, President George Bush gave not eight but sixteen years for a manned return to the Moon, even though the technologies for it should have already been developed forty years earlier.[15][16] In 2010, President Barack Obama canceled this plan, which seemed to the moon conspiracy theorists to be an admission that the USA still does not have the technology to go to the moon.[17]

Doubts about the authenticity of the Apollo Moon landings appeared first in December 1968 when Apollo 8 was launched.[18] The almost perfectly executed odyssey of Apollo 11 amazed many around the world, and some people doubted it was real.[19]

The first book on the subject ("Did man land on the Moon?") was issued in Texas by the mathematician James J. Cranny in 1970.[20]

NASA commented on some of the conspiracy theories in June 1977.[21] But in August 1997, their Director of Media Services (1998–2000) Brian Welch (1958–2000) said in an interview with Sky TV News:[22](p. 68)[23](48:13–48:46)[24]

This is thirty year old stuff... I don't understand why we should spend the time to... prove to people that we went to the Moon; in fact of matters we did go to the Moon.

When Fox TV aired Bruce Nash's film "Conspiracy theory: Did we land on the Moon?" in 2001, NASA released hoax theory rebuttal materials on their web and FTP sites.[25] They also wrote suggestions for science teachers on how to refute the hoax claims using the Lunar Sample Disk Kits.[21][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

In 2002, NASA hired James Edward Oberg, to write a book intended to challenge those who claim the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax. Oberg was a former rocket scientist, MSNBC News space consultant and analyst and journalist, and, it was later discovered, a moon landing conspiracy theorist. But NASA soon cancelled the project, declining to give the reasons for this. NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said criticism that NASA was displaying poor judgement and a lack of confidence in commissioning the book caused the agency to abort it.[33][34][35] For example, then NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said:[36]

The issue of trying to do a targeted response to this is just lending credibility to something that is, on its face, asinine.

In 2006, some of the recordings of the Apollo era were declared missing.[37] The question of what happened to the recordings was seen by conspiracy theorists as confirmation of their beliefs, and in 2009, NASA revealed that the tapes were erased.[38][39][40]

Claims[change | change source]

The arguments about the moon conspiracy theories are detailed and complex. Some of the major points and counterpoints are listed below.

Complexity[change | change source]

Moon conspiracy theorists think that NASA faked the Apollo mission with a secret program. According to James Longuski, the complexity of the conspiracy theory scenarios make them impossible. More than 400,000 people worked on the Apollo project for almost ten years, and 12 men who walked on the Moon returned to Earth to talk about their experiences. Hundreds of thousands of people would have had to keep the secret. Longuski says that it would have been a lot easier to actually land on the Moon than to create such a large conspiracy to fake it.[41][42]

Landing sites[change | change source]

A later LRO photo of the Apollo 14 landing site

Moon conspiracy theorists say that telescopes like the Hubble should be able to take pictures of the moon where Apollo landed, and if people really did land on the moon then the pictures should show the scars on the moon's surface and equipment it left behind. They believe that our major observatories will not take pictures of the landing sites because it would expose the cover-up.

NASA has said that images have been taken of these landing sites, but the pictures taken by Hubble are too low quality to see very much detail.[43] In 2009 NASA released pictures from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the Apollo landing sites in more detail. These photographs have not convinced the moon landing conspiracy theorists because the pictures were taken by NASA, and they think NASA is behind the cover-up.[44]

Apollo 17 landing site

Missing data[change | change source]

Blueprints and drawings of the machines used in the Apollo project are missing.[45][46] Some Apollo 11 tapes containing telemetry and high quality video of the first moonwalk are also missing. Moon landing conspiracy theorists believe that this is because they never existed, since the mission was faked.[47]

Original high-quality image from the missing tapes.

Dr. David Williams (NASA archivist at Goddard Space Flight Center) and Apollo 11 flight director Eugene F. Kranz acknowledged that some of the Apollo 11 tapes are missing. When the recordings were sent back to Earth to be shown on TV, they were converted to a different format which was lower quality.[48] Now the lower quality tapes are available, but the original high quality videos received in Australia are missing. Some pictures of the original high quality image are still available, and videos have been released from other missions too, like the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package.[49]

Some people at NASA are looking for the tapes to help them plan for future missions. They believe the Apollo 11 tapes were sent for storage at the U.S. National Archives in 1970, but by 1984 all the Apollo 11 tapes had been returned to the Goddard Space Flight Center. The tapes may have been stored rather than re-used, and efforts to determine where they were stored are ongoing.[50] Goddard was storing 35,000 new tapes per year in 1967, even before the lunar landings.[51]

Apollo 16 Lunar Module

On November 1, 2006 Cosmos Magazine reported that 100 data tapes recorded in Australia during the Apollo 11 mission had been found in the basement of the Curtain University of Technology in Perth, Australia. One of the old tapes was sent to NASA for analysis.

On July 16, 2009, NASA said that it must have erased the original Apollo 11 Moon footage years ago so that it could reuse the tape. On December 22, 2009 NASA issued a final report on the tapes.[52] Senior engineer Dick Nafzger concluded that approximately 45 tapes of Apollo 11 video were erased and reused.[53] For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, Lowry Digital of Burbank, California restored the low quality videos. Some pieces of the restored footage are available on the NASA website.[54]

Technology[change | change source]

Bart Sibrel (a moon landing conspiracy theorist) says that the Soviet Union had much more time in space than the United States before the Apollo Program. The Soviet Union put the first satellite in orbit in October 1957 named Sputnik 1.[Note 1] They also put the first animal in space in Sputnik 2, and were the first country to safely bring back an animal from space in Sputnik 5. Yuri Gagrin was the first man to orbit the Earth in Vostok 1, who was also from the Soviet Union. Sibrel believes that since the Soviet Union was so far ahead of the United States in the Moon race, the United States had to fake the landings to win.

On January 27, 1967, Apollo 1 caught fire and killed 3 astronauts. Two years later, NASA said that the problems which caused the fire were fixed. Bart Sibrel believes that the problems could not be fixed, so NASA decided to fake the landings to win the Moon race.

NASA says that the Soviet Union's achievements were not as impressive as the United States.[55] Before Apollo 7, the USSR made 9 spaceflights, while the U.S. had made 16. Between 1961 and 1967, the U.S. had 7 more spaceflights than the USSR, and 600 more hours in space. Apollo 7 launched in October 1968, 21 months after the Apollo 1 fire, with an astronaut on board. By Apollo 11, the Uninted States' lead was even bigger.

Both the United States and the USSR had many problems during the Moon race. The USSR had the first in-flight death in 1967, only 3 months after the Apollo 1 fire. According to NASA, most of the accomplishments first made by the USSR were also made by the US within a year. By 1965, the US started to beat the USSR to a few important steps. The USSR never developed a rocket which could land on the Moon, and they never tested landing on the Moon with an astronaut on board.[56]

Moon rocks[change | change source]

Genesis Rock brought back by Apollo 15 - older than any rocks on Earth

Some conspiracy theorists say that the Moon rocks collected by the Apollo Program are actually meteorites from Antarctica. Wernher von Braun, the Marshall Space Flight Center Director, and three others traveled to Antarctica in 1967 (three years before the Apollo launch) to explore for future space missions.[57] Some conspiracy theorists believe that Braun collected meteorites during this trip to use as fake moon rocks.

The Apollo Program collected 382 kilograms (842 lb) of moon rocks during the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 missions. According to scientists around the world, these rocks are very different from meteorites and other rocks found on Earth.[58] The rocks are also 200,000,000 years older than any rock found on Earth, and are similar to moon rocks later brought back by the USSR.[59]

Some moon rocks could have been collected without landing on the moon, but the first moon rock was found on Earth in 1979, and it was only discovered in 1982 that it came from the moon.[60][61][62] Also, moon rocks are very rare on Earth, and only 30 kilograms have ever been discovered, while the Apollo missions brought back 382 kilograms.[62]

Research[change | change source]

In 2004, Martin Hendry and Ken Skeldon from the University of Glasgow investigated the 'Moon Hoax'.[63] In November 2004, they spoke at the Glasgow Science Centre and examined the top ten lines of evidence that a hoax had taken place.[64]

Deaths of Apollo workers[change | change source]

In a television program about the hoax, Fox Entertainment Group listed 10 astronauts and 2 others who had possibly been killed as part of a cover-up.

  • Theodore Freeman (plane crash, 1964)
  • Elliot See and Charles Bassett (T-38 accident, 1966)
  • Gus Grissom (Apollo 1 fire, January 1967).
  • Edward Higgins White (Apollo 1 fire, January 1967)
  • Roger B. Chaffee (Apollo 1 fire, January 1967)
  • Edward Givens (car accident, 1967)
  • Clifton Williams (plane accident, October 1967)
  • Michael James Adams (the only X-15 pilot killed during a X-15 test in November 1967. He was not a NASA astronaut).
  • Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., planned to be an Air Force pilot, but he died in a plane crash in December 1967.
  • Thomas Ronald Baron (died with family in a car crash with train, 1967 after being fired for talking to Congress about the cause of the Apollo 1 fire). Ruled as suicide. Baron wrote a report critical of the Apollo program and was a critic after the Apollo 1 fire.[65][66]
  • Brian Welch, died a few months after debunking a Fox television show about the 'moon hoax'.[67]

All the deaths except for Irwin's were related to their job with NASA or the Air Force. Mike Adams and Robert Lawrence were not involved with the civilian space program. James Irwin already had several heart attacks before his death. All except two of the deaths happened at least one or two years before Apollo 11. Also, Brian Welch was speaking out against the moon hoax, so he would not have been a good target to be killed.

In November 2012 nine of the twelve astronauts who landed on the Moon are still alive, including Buzz Aldrin.[68]

Other pages[change | change source]

Notes and references[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. According to the 2007 NOVA episode "Sputnik Declassified", the United States could have launched the Explorer 1 probe before Sputnik, but the Eisenhower administration waited, first because they were not sure if international law meant that national borders kept going all the way into orbit (and, thus, their orbiting satellite could cause an international uproar by violating the borders of dozens of nations), and second because there was a desire to see the not yet ready Vanguard satellite program, designed by American citizens, become America's first satellite rather than the Explorer program, that was mostly designed by former rocket designers from Nazi Germany. A transcript of the appropriate section from the show is available at "A Blow to the Nation".

References[change | change source]

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  4. The wrong stuff, R. van Bakel, 9/94
  5. Getting Apollo 11 right, ABC, 7/99
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  13. Special Message to the Congress on urgent national needs, President J. Kennedy, 25/5/61
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Other websites[change | change source]