Greetings, Dear Reader.
Strap in your seatbelts, and make sure the oxygen tank is full-gauge. This time we’re going to the great unknown, the dark beyond. This time, we’re headed for the final frontier.
Space has been an interesting concept since the beginning of mankind. Ever since primitive man looked up to the sky and wondered ‘Huh, what’s that?’, humans have been theorizing and conjecturing and hypothesizing about what exactly is up there. Man’s best frenemy, Science, has come up with an astonishing amount of data explaining how planets and stars came to be, what they do, and how they do it. Yet, one of the most awe-inspiring galactic achievements Science keeps tucked under its belt (besides realizing that Pluto is worthless) is sending people … yes, actual people … to the Moon!
Or, is it?
Today, we look at Apollo 11 Moon Landing Conspiracy.
From 1969 to 1972, the good ol’ USA carried out a little thing called the Apollo program. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (or as you and I call them, NASA) sent a total of 6 manned spacecraft hurtling out of the Earth’s atmosphere towards the Moon. It was the time of War, a Cold War to be specific, and America needed a win. John F. Kennedy, US President at the time, needed a win – something to reassure the American populace and placate mounting tensions about national security. That something came in the form of Apollo 11.
On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle lift off from humble ground to more ambitious prospects. On July 19, the spacecraft entered lunar orbit, with two of the three astronauts present, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, waiting anxiously for the landing. On July 20, the Lunar Module landed. Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon, Aldrin the second. Experiments were conducted. Rocks were collected. A US flag was raised. History was made.
The landing was a technological and scientific breakthrough. It proved that America was still ahead in the mighty Space Race, and also proved that no feat was too impossible for mankind to accomplish. However, not all were convinced.
It all started with a book, We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle. Self-published by Bill Kaysing. Kaysing made a range of allegations accusing NASA of staging the moon landing, denouncing it as a farce, a fraud, a feeble attempt at convincing the world that America had achieved the impossible. He claimed that the tapes of Armstrong walking on the moon were shot on a Hollywood set, and that the public was being lied to.
The idea spread like wildfire. People started noticing more and more inconsistencies. The lighting doesn’t seem right. The flag shouldn’t be waving. The stars should be showing. Some things just didn’t add up. Didn’t seem real.
Conspiracy theorists have come up with a vast array of possible reasons for then moon landing ‘hoax’. The following are the three most popular theories (and by proxy, the least insane sounding):
- The Kennedy Angle
Many speculate that it was in fact President John F. Kennedy, as well as a shady group of government officials, who planned to stage the lunar landing. America was knees deep in the Cold War against the Soviet Union, and the Space Race was a big part of that.
The Space Race: an US vs. USSR competition to see who could build the most advanced spacecraft. The Soviets had already taken the lead, sending the first man into space. Kennedy needed to one-up the Soviets by doing something magnificent, something impossible. The only problem? The very word ‘impossible’. American spacecraft technology just wasn’t advanced enough to successfully put a man on the Moon, so Kennedy found a solution: staging it all.
- The Prestige Angle
Some argue that NASA was the mastermind behind this devious scam. After several experiments, trials, and tests, NASA came to a conclusion: they couldn’t do it. To save face, NASA created artificial footage of the astronauts walking on the lunar surface. They then used the funding they received (the full $30 billion) to ensure things were kept hush-hush.
The end result? America gets to show off, and NASA is assured sufficient funding for years to come.
- The Vietnam Angle
Similar to the first theory but linked specifically to the Vietnam war America was engaged in at the time. The Government staged the moon landing to distract the American public from the controversial Vietnam War. This theory is mainly supported by the claim that plans for crewed landings were cancelled at nearly the same time as when the US withdrew from Vietnam.
Well, you’ve seen what the theorists believe, but what about supporting evidence? I’ve listed the most common arguments for the landings being a hoax, as well as rebuttals that debunkers have offered in response to allegations of the same.
- There are no stars visible in the background of photos. NASA intentionally decided not to include them, for fear of astronomers identifying their celestial positions as incorrect and exposing the photos as fakes.
Debunk: The light from the Sun in outer space in the solar system is at least as bright as the sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface on a clear day at noon, so cameras used for imaging subjects illuminated by sunlight are set for a daylight exposure. The dim light of the stars simply does not provide enough exposure to record visible images. Thus, the stars were outshone by the sun and by sunlight reflected off the Moon’s surface.
- The angle and color of shadows are inconsistent, perhaps created by artificial lights (like spotlights in a studio)
Debunk: Shadows on the Moon are complicated by reflected light, uneven ground, wide-angle lens distortion, and lunar dust. There are several light sources: the Sun, sunlight reflected from the Earth, sunlight reflected from the Moon’s surface, and sunlight reflected from the astronauts and the Lunar Module. Light from these sources is scattered by lunar dust in many directions, including into shadows, thus giving the illusion that there are separate shadows.
- The flag placed on the surface by the astronauts seemed to flutter as if there was a breeze. This would be implausible as there is no atmosphere, and therefore no wind on the Moon, suggesting the footage was taken on Earth.
Debunk: The flag was fastened to a L-shaped rod so that it did not hang down. The flag only seemed to flutter when the astronauts were moving it into position. Without any air resistance, these movements caused the free corner of the flag to swing like a pendulum for some time. The flag was rippled because it had been folded during storage – the ripples could be mistaken for movement in a still photo. Videos show that when the astronauts let go of the flagpole it vibrates briefly but then remains still.
It seems we’ve reached the end of our journey, Dear Reader. We’ve explored the depths of government distrust and plunged deep into the public’s paranoia. It’s easy to dismiss all this theory-making as sheer nonsense, belligerent ramblings of the attention-seekers. After all, the science supports that the Moon Landing happened. Scientists support that the Moon Landing happened. Where could there possibly be any room for doubt?
Well, before you leave, consider this: How do we know that the science supports the Moon Landing? How do we know that scientists support the Moon Landing?
Easily doctored on a mass scale.
Interviews with professionals?
That well-dressed, well-spoken man could be an actor, couldn’t he?
How do we know that the government doesn’t control those websites too?
Face it, folks. The world we live in is based on the assumption that there couldn’t possibly be some force that’s controlling everything. That’s plugging leaks and making sure they stay plugged. That’s making sure we don’t find out what’s really going on. It’s a gruesome way to see our world, but when you look at it that way, conspiracy theories don’t seem that strange at all.
Think about that when you look up your homework answers on the Net.
This has been: the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory.