To The Moon!

American President Barack Obama’s presented to the National Academy of Sciences on April 27th, 2009. Here is a excerpt from his speech:

“When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik a little more than a half century ago, Americans were stunned: the Russians had beaten us to space. We had a choice to make: we could accept defeat – or we could accept the challenge. And as always, we chose to accept the challenge.

President Eisenhower signed legislation to create NASA and to invest in science and math education, from grade school to graduate school. And just a few years later, a month after his address to the 1961 Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, President

Kennedy boldly declared before a joint session of Congress that the United States would send a man to the moon and return him safely to the earth.

The scientific community rallied behind this goal and set about achieving it. And it would lead not just to those first steps on the moon, but also to giant leaps in our understanding here at home.”

One Small Step

It was on July 20th, 1969, that Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took the first small step on the lunar surface, but a giant leap for mankind. NASA beamed back audio, video, and images from the historic mission. Ask most people from that era, “Where were you when we first walked on the moon?”, and they can remember the day as if it was yesterday. It was completely memorable, and not only a historic moment for the United States of America, but for science and all of humanity.

NASA launched six missions that would go on to land on the moon; Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16. They studied things like soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic measurements, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields and the solar wind. It was the ultimate laboratory, and we learned much from those trips.

The Conspiracy

But what if the United States didn’t land on the moon? What if there was a conspiracy to give the illusion that they did? What if the public was fooled into thinking that ‘1969 America’ could win the space race? And if the government lied, what else were they lying about? What else do they not want us to know? What if… the moon landing was a hoax?

In February of 2001, Fox TV aired a program called “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?”. It featured interviews with a group of people who believe that NASA faked the Apollo moon landings. The biggest proponent of this idea was Bill Kaysing, who claimed to have evidence for the hoax: images, engineering details, anomalies in the physics, and astronaut testimonies. According to Kaysing, NASA did not have the technical capability of landing on the moon, but since there was so much pressure during the Cold War and space race with the Soviet Union, the USA was forced to fake the whole thing to prove that they had technological superiority. To Kaysing and others believer in the conspiracy, it was easier to fool the public with an elaborate hoax (assumed to be filmed in Area 51, of course) rather than let their Cold War rival strike a huge moral victory by having a non-American step foot on the moon first.

Scan the Internet for “Moon Landing Hoax”, and (other than this site), you’ll find other reasons for the conspiracy, including the following, from MoonMovie.com:

“Why would Apollo fake the first manned moon mission (Apollo 8 ) and then continue to go back 8 more times? To answer this question, one must understand both history and the future.

Technology is far beyond what the public is allowed to know – in some cases 35 years ahead of public knowledge.

The elite handlers of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) needed a long term distraction from the real space program, for the purposes of covertly building the vast control mechanisms and placing them in Earth orbit.

Bart Sibrel touches on this in his first film, when he includes the real reason for space presence – military domination of the Earth from space. This is the history. Another resource for this documented movement towards worldwide tyranny is Arsenal of Hypocrisy. NASA is a multifaceted tool of the MIC, and the Global Elite who plan to implement world government.

Apollo was in fact, a great distraction.”

And so, putting the reason for the hoax aside, let us investigate why some people believe man has yet to step foot on the moon. At the same time, we’ll put on our skeptical hats and let science debunk each of the claims.

Claims for the Conspiracy… and the Facts That Debunk Them

According to moon hoax believers, the list below provides “evidence” for the fact that the moon landing was staged in a studio. (Editors note: For the sake of brevity, I have chosen eleven. If you wish to find more “evidence” and counter evidence (science), please read through the reference material at the bottom of the article. The most comprehensive guide I have yet to find is on Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy site).

flag waving moon hoax1 When the astronauts plant the flag, you can see it flapping as though it’s in a breeze. But there is no air or atmosphere on the moon… so how could this be?

The flag is moving because the astronauts just placed it there, and by twisting and turning the flag pole, they caused it to move. The inertia from when they let go kept it moving, Over time, the flag would come to rest, but the video was taken during and shortly after it was placed into the lunar surface.

moon hoax strange light2 Buzz Aldrin is seen in the shadow of the lander, but at the same time, he is clearly visible. Many shadows look strange in the Apollo pictures. Some shadows don’t appear to be parallel with each other, and some objects in shadow appear well lit, hinting that light was coming from multiple sources… just like studio cameras.

There were multiple light sources: the sun, the Earth’s reflected light, light reflecting off the lunar module, the spacesuits, and also the lunar surface.

It’s also important to note that the lunar surface is not flat. If an object is in a dip (say, a small crater), you will get a different shadow compared to an object next to it that is on a level surface. Still not convinced? This is easily testable at with a few small props, uneven ground, and a light source.

In addition, the shadows are not parallel in the images due to perspective. You are looking at a three-dimensional scene, projected on a two-dimensional photograph, which causes distortions. When the Sun is low and shadows are long, objects at different distance do indeed appear to cast non-parallel shadows, even here on Earth. Here’s a great example demonstrating this effect – non parallel shadows distorted by perspective. Again, this is easily testable, as the previous link demonstrates.

3 You’re on the moon and there’s no atmosphere. So you should be able to clearly see all the stars in the sky. But where are they? They don’t show up in any of the photographs – it’s just a dark sky.

The moon’s surface reflects sunlight, and its glare would have made stars difficult to see. Also, the astronauts photographed their lunar adventures using fast exposure settings, which would have limited incoming background light. According to Bad Astronomy, they were taking pictures at 1/150th or 1/250th of a second. With such a short exposure, the stars simply won’t show up on film. You can try this for yourself. Take a picture of Jupiter or Venus (since they are highly visible from Earth) on a clear night away from light pollution. You’ll have a hard time seeing them, if at all, and you certainly won’t see even the brightest stars. You need a long and steady exposure for that to work.

4 The lander was huge and should have produced a giant crater when it touched the surface. But the module is shown sitting on relatively flat, undisturbed soil.

“Science fiction movies depict this big jet of fire coming out as [spacecraft] land, but that’s not how they did it on the moon.”. In reality, the lander’s engines were throttled back prior to landing, and it did not hover long enough to form a crater or disturb much dust.

5 The radiation in the van Allen Belts and in deep space would have killed the astronauts in minutes.

moon hoax van allen beltKaysing’s exact words, when quoted on this claim, were, “Any human being traveling through the van Allen belt would have been rendered either extremely ill or actually killed by the radiation within a short time thereof.”

The van Allen belts are regions above the Earth’s surface where the Earth’s magnetic field has trapped particles of the solar wind. An unprotected human would get a lethal dose of radiation, but only if he stayed there long enough. But according to Phil Plait, the spaceship traveled through the belts very quickly, getting through them in about an hour. There wasn’t enough time to get a lethal dose. Additionally, the metal hull of the spaceship blocked most of the radiation.

6 The pictures taken from the Moon were exposed and set. Just about every picture the public sees is near perfect, with the scene always centered perfectly. However, the cameras were mounted on the front of the astronauts’ spacesuit, and there was no finder. They couldn’t have taken perfect pictures every time!

Nobody claims they did. Thousands of pictures were taken on the Moon, and the ones we all see will tend to be the best ones. If Buzz Aldrin accidentally took a picture with Neil Armstrong partly out of the frame, you probably won’t see that image in a magazine.

Further to that, Phil Plait notes that everything done on the Moon was practiced endlessly by the astronauts. Those working on the mission knew that these pictures would be some of the most important images ever taken, so they would have taken particular care in making sure the astronauts could do it with their eyes shut. When fabled astronaut Story Musgrave replaced a camera on board the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993, someone commented that he made it look easy. “Sure,” he replied, “I had practiced it thousands of times!”

moon hoax foot print7 The astronauts’ footprints are too clear for being made on a dry surface. Those footprints could only have been made in wet sand.

Plait, an astronomer and skeptic, deals with this claim nicely: Moon dust, or regolith, is “like a finely ground powder. When you look at it under a microscope, it almost looks like volcanic ash. So when you step on it, it can compress very easily into the shape of a boot.” And those shapes could stay pristine for a long while thanks to the airless vacuum on the moon.

moon hoax strange reflections8 We are led to believe that only two astronauts walked on the moon at a time, yet in photographs such as the one below, where both are visible, there is no sign of a camera. So who took the picture?

According to Phil Plait, the cameras were mounted to the astronauts’ chests. In the picture above, Plait notes, “you can see [Neil’s] arms are sort of at his chest. That’s where the camera is. He wasn’t holding it up to his visor.”

9 There are many strange reflections in the photos. They could only have come from studio lights on a production set.

If NASA spent millions of dollars on a hoax, do you think they would make such an obvious mistake? The reflections are lens flares. The pentagonal flare seen in some photos is of the aperture of the camera. 

moon hoax objects left behind10 After the “landing”, artifacts from the trip were supposedly left behind: part of the Eagle, the U.S. flag, and several other instruments and mementos. With instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope capable of peering into the distant of the universe, surely scientists should be able to see the various objects still on the moon. But no such pictures of these objects exist.

There isn’t a single telescope on Earth or in space that has a resolution powerful enough to see these objects. In fact, astronomers can calculate this: given the biggest telescope on Earth, the smallest thing you can see on the surface of moon is something bigger than a house.

11 There’s secret outtake footage from the old Moontruth website that shows a bumble when they were staging the landing. You can clearly see it was a production set.

That’s because it was a production set. You can watch it yourself:

Moontruth.com eventually came out as a parody, publishing a disclaimer stating that the clip was a fake. This doesn’t stop people from believing that it still supports the hoax, however. In fact, in true conspiracy theorist fashion, the admission that it was a fake video is seen as “part of the conspiracy”, or “what they want you to think”.

From NASA, With Love

After the show on Fox aired, NASA felt compelled to respond. On their web page, they present the most compelling piece of evidence as proof of the moon landings. Actually, they present 841 pounds of evidence in the form of moon rock. Moon rocks are absolutely unique, and there’s no process on Earth that could simulate their creation. That is, they can only be created on the moon itself. To learn how they differ from Earth rocks, and how their creation is different, visit NASA’s rebuttal on their site.

Dr. David McKay, Chief Scientist for Planetary Science and Exploration at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) is quoted: “I have here in my office a 10-foot high stack of scientific books full of papers about the Apollo Moon rocks. Researchers in thousands of labs have examined Apollo Moon samples — not a single paper challenges their origin! And these aren’t all NASA employees, either. We’ve loaned samples to scientists in dozens of countries [who have no reason to cooperate in any hoax].”

Even Dr. Robert Park, Director of the Washington office of the American Physical Society and a noted critic of NASA’s human space flight program, agrees that humans have indeed landed on the moon. He was quoted by NASA in saying, “The body of physical evidence that humans did walk on the Moon is simply overwhelming.”

Conclusion

Conspiracy theories like the Moon Landing Hoax can be debunked, torn apart, shredded, and thoroughly disproved with hard science every day, but that usually won’t make a difference to true believers. The Mythbusters, a television show on the Discovery network, dedicated an episode to the Moon Landing Hoax and tackled several parts of the myth. Like me, the cast members held no illusions that they would be able to sway the diehard moon hoax believer to the “other side”.

“The thing that I’ve found over the years is that there is always a certain segment of people out there who will refuse to believe despite overwhelming evidence. Those diehards will never be convinced, while everyone else will have fun watching us take on the hoax,” said cast member Imahara.

Savage and Hyneman said they found similarities between the hoax and the other myths they have tested. “There seems to be a common tendency among conspiracy theorists, as well as among a lot of people with entrenched belief systems, to get stuck on an idea and never give up.

apolloConspiracy theories are not really a special category — maybe you can call them myths, but I look at them as an obsession that people want to maintain, like being abducted by aliens, Bigfoot and so on. You can’t really expect that reasonable evidence will change anyone’s mind if they are determined,” observed Hyneman.

And so, we fight the good fight with science, reason, and rationality – chipping away at conspiracy theories like the Moon Landing Hoax with the hope that at least some hoax believers, when presented with the evidence, will let go of their belief and choose to accept the facts.

References:

Interview with Bill Kaysing:  (Editors note:  I left out Kaysing’s claim that NASA murdered three astronauts via the Apollo 1 fire because they were afraid the hoax would be exposed.  You can read more about this accusation in the interview, and on Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy article).
NASA’s response:
The ultimate debunk of the Moon Landing Hoax:
Images:
Other:

 

  • J. W.

    My fav. part of the moon landing controversy is the use of photographs as proof of a staged scene. The issues surrounding the cross hairs and repeating backgrounds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Examination_of_Apollo_Moon_photographs and the absence of stars (as noted in this article) highlight major gaps in understanding the photographic process. Anomalies in photographs, whether you see proof of ghosts, aliens or big foot, will always provide excellent fodder for conspiracy theorists and endless entertainment for skeptical minds.

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  • Jeremiah Jameson

    My favorite part of the “moon landing” is when NASA announced in the 90s that they lost all of the film footage and recordings–all 700 boxes of them.

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  • nubwaxer

    “In February of 2001, Fox TV aired a program called “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?””
    doubt, fear, and disinformation are the basis for fox “news” reporting. of course they are not above making a buck off of national enquirer type stories.

    • hockeybik

      News flash – Fox is an entertainment network, they like ABC, NBC, CBS and even PBS air fictional shows. I do not believe they said this show was news or was factual.

  • K. Chris C.

    I have spent many hours going thru the photo and video record of the so-called “Moon landings.” My findings can be summarized down to two words: Didn´t happen.

    The photo record is riddled with anomalies and blatant impossibilities: Bad and missing shadows; Incorrect lighting; Reused backgrounds; And my favorite, shadows thrown up on the background projection screen.

    The video record has at least two instances of sounds impossibly recorded, reused foregrounds, and changing shadows under a moving rover. Video from the rovers shows no background parallax orientation changes as it moves–so is not real.

    AS15-86-11603HR is a favorite of mine. Amongst other errors, it has a SEP pallet on the right that casts no shadow, while the little mound of dirt in front of it does.

    Redonkulous.

    An American citizen, not US subject.

  • Sonia

    Apart from the Van Allen belt radiation, and the radiation on the moon’s surface itself – which they never manage to adequately explain away – why did the Russians never ‘bother’ to put their flag on the moon? And when in all of human history have pioneers, come, conquered and never returned? Supposedly almost 60 years ago the USA had the technology to put a man on the moon, and have never repeated the feat… an historical hiccough of monumental proportions. Plus, without the Russians, the USA does not have the scientific nous even to run the Space Station.

  • Pascal Xavier

    Always the same clumsy explanations.
    Buzz Aldrin is very visible in the shadow of the LEM, but on another photo an astronaut is completely shaded in the same conditions.
    All the the astronauts had to do to photograph stars was to raise their cameras; they never did it.
    In the missions Apollo 12 to Apollo 16, there is not a single photo showing the earth; yet, all the astronauts had to do was to raise their camera to catch it in their field of view.
    The earth is visible in Apollo 17, because it was lower than on the other sites (elevation of 52°) because Apollo 17 was the site which was the farthest from the center of the moon which is visible from the earth.
    And the earth should be 3.67 bigger than the moon on photos taken with the same angle of view (and no, the hasselblad cameras of the astronauts didn’t have a large angle of view (it was 60° in diagonal, and 42° in horizontal and vertical; it’s hardly a large angle of view); it is obviously too small on the photos of Apollo.
    The ascent module was a joke; its engine was not gimballed, and it was asymmetrical; thence there was a misalignment torque which was appearing in the ascent, which one could not be compensated by swivelling the engine since it was fixed; this misalignement torque could only be compensated by using the thrusters of the RCS, which ones could not be throttled; this misalignment torque was generating a swaying move of the ascent module (which is very visible on the video of the ascent of the lunar module in Apollo 17); furthermore that was wasting the propellant of the RCS.
    Even the AGC had problems, for its memory was showing serious defaults.
    And the way we see the lunar module and the command module fly on the videos is completely abnormal.
    The radiations don’t only exist in the Van Allen belts, they also exist beyond them; there is a big misunderstanding about these belts; they don’t create them, they stop radiations which come from the sun; beyond the belts, there is no more protection against the solar radiations/
    Someone has tried to make up a trajectory of the command module which would have avoided most of the radiations of the belts, but this trajectory is a fantasy trajectory, the command module could not take it for it traveled in the plane of the lunar orbit.
    This is only a short summary, there are plenty of other things which cast a serious doubt over Apollo.