Moon Landing Hoax
March 30, 2001
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in 1969.
Did we actually send humans to the Moon in the
1960's? Of course we did! But some people are
claiming that NASA lied about the Apollo program, that we
faked the landings. Actually, it would have been
harder to fake the whole thing than to do it! But
many people are confused about it, and have asked NASA to
clear it up.
The current confusion began with a TV
program called "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on
the Moon?" aired on February 15th, and again on March
21st, 2001. The program interviewed people who
doubted NASA had the technology to make it to the
Moon. They felt that the USA was so eager to win the
"Space Race" against the Soviet Union, NASA
acted out the Apollo space program in movie studios!
They claimed astronaut Neil Armstrong's historic first
steps on the Moon, planting the American flag, the bouncy
Moon Buggy rides, and even Astronaut Al Shepard's golf
shot, were all fake.
But not only did they claim NASA faked the whole thing,
but that we did it very poorly! The so-called
"experts" on Conspiracy Theory pointed
out a number of things they thought were
"errors." Well, let's look at a couple of
Stars in the Lunar Sky
View of the half-Earth above the lunar horizon.
Pictures of astronauts sent from the Moon don't
include stars in the dark lunar sky. How could that
be? Did NASA's film makers forget to turn on the
stars? Most people who take photos know the answer:
it's hard to take a picture of something very bright and
something else very dim on the same photo. Ever
watch a TV program or movie with outdoor night
scenes? Unless the movie producers fake stars in the
sky, or use special cameras, you just don't see
stars. The cameras are adjusted for the actors, and
the stars in the background are too dim to see.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in 1969.
A Waving Flag
Everyone has seen the video of astronauts planting a
US flag on the Moon. You can see the flag flexing
and rippling. How can that be? There's no breeze on
the Moon. But then, there's no atmosphere, either.
When the astronauts planted the flagpole they twisted it
back and forth to sink it into the lunar soil. On
the Earth, that would have made the flag "wave"
for a few seconds, then stop. But that's because the
flag pushes against air as it flaps, and the air slows it
down. On the Moon, there was no air to stop the
flag's motion, so it continued, just as Newton's First Law
of physics says it should. So of course the cloth
flag waved and rippled beneath the metal rod holding it
Any body at rest tends to stay at rest, and any body
in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted on
by an external force.
The TV show had plenty of other "proofs"
not based on fact. All of them are easy to refute.
But perhaps the best answer to claims of a "Moon
Hoax" is just plain common sense.
For instance, Russia, China, East Germany and other
cold-war enemies of the USA closely monitored the lunar
missions. It was easy to tell whether the
Apollo radio signals were coming from the direction of the
Moon, and whether the time delays in conversation matched
the distance the signals had to travel. If anything
had seemed wrong, surely these unfriendly countries would
have loudly shouted to the world that the USA was pulling
a hoax! Yet none of them ever questioned NASA's
accomplishment. When even your enemy gives you
credit for something, it's pretty convincing!
There is also the issue of Moon rocks. Apollo
astronauts brought 841 pounds of Moon rocks home to Earth,
a unique treasure trove that has taught us a great deal
about the Moon.
Top: a large moon rock nicknamed "Big
Muley," weighing 11.7 kg. This rock was the
largest returned to Earth by Apollo astronauts.
Bottom: A close-up view
showing tiny craters caused by micrometeoroids, an
effect not seen in any rocks of Earth because tiny
meteoroids burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.
"Moon rocks are truly unique, and differ from
Earth rocks in many ways," says Dr. David McKay of
NASA's Johnson Space Center, one of the people who run the
Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility where most of the Moon
rocks are stored. "Several museums, such as the
Smithsonian and others, let the public touch and examine
rocks from the Moon," says David.
Dr. McKay says that faking a Moon rock to fool
scientists around the world would be next to
impossible. "It would be far easier to just go
to the Moon and get one!" he says.
"There's a big stack of scientific books in my
office, full of research papers about Apollo Moon rocks
" added McKay. "Researchers in hundreds of
labs have examined Apollo Moon samples -- and not one of
them has ever challenged where the rocks came from!
These are not NASA people, either -- but are scientists in
dozens of countries to whom we loaned Moon rock samples --
and they have no reason to cooperate in any
There are so many other common sense reasons to believe
NASA truly sent men to the Moon. The integrity of
the twelve astronauts who walked on the Moon, nine of whom
are still living, is one. The vast number of NASA
employees, who are, after all, just regular people doing a
job, who would have had to conspire, lie, and maintain the
lie for over 30 years is another.
The Conspiracy Theory program is fun to watch, but be
sure to maintain your skepticism! The hardworking,
ingenious Americans who got us to the Moon should be
honored for their contributions and their pioneering
spirit. Even though the torch has been handed on to
a younger generation of engineers, we are all proud of
Editors: Gil Knier &