On 20 July 1969, the Eagle module from Apollo 11 landed on the moon with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board. Or did it? IA critical thinker John Turnbull takes on a classic conspiracy theory — that man never actually landed on the moon.

The Moon Landing, according to NASA:

'Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin into an initial Earth-orbit of 114 by 116 miles. An estimated 530 million people watched Armstrong's televised image and heard his voice describe the event as he took "...one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" on July 20, 1969.'

On the moon walk itself:

During the EVA (extravehicular activity), in which they both ranged up to 300 feet from the Eagle, Aldrin deployed the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package, or EASEP, experiments, and Armstrong and Aldrin gathered and verbally reported on the lunar surface samples. After Aldrin had spent one hour, 33 minutes on the surface, he re-entered the LM (lunar module) , followed 41 minutes later by Armstrong. The entire EVA phase lasted more than two-and-a-half hours, ending at 111 hours, 39 minutes into the mission.

The Moon Landing Hoax, according to the Internet

Man never went to the moon at all. The whole space program was a public relations stunt to build morale in America and encourage the Soviet Union to waste resources chasing an impossible goal. The footage of the moon landing was shot on a Hollywood sound stage, possibly directed by Stanley Kubrick. But it appears that Kubrick wasn’t a very good director, for all of the mistakes he made…

It was all a PR stunt to bankrupt the Soviets

Readers who were alive during the Sixties will remember the Space Race — the cool and massively expensive part of the Cold War that saw the Soviet Union and the United States compete to be the first nation in space, then the first nation to reach the moon. The Soviets won the first battle, with the unmanned Sputnik launched in 1957 and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbiting the earth in 1961 in Vostok 1. In response, Presidents Eisenhower and then Kennedy poured even more money and resources into reaching the moon first.

While there was undoubtedly an active disinformation campaign going on between the feuding superpowers, the number of spies and double agents since revealed suggests it would have been far easier to send men to the moon than to fool the entire world into thinking you had done so.

It is interesting to note that the 2015 movie Interstellar used the “we never went to the moon” position as the basis for their fraudulent alternate history, thus theoretically removing the inspiration to travel to the stars.

You can’t see any stars in the photos

The simple reason? Because it was daytime. The moon is a reflective surface, so the light from the sun hitting the surface of the moon makes it too bright to capture any stars in the background. If the photo were taken on the side of the moon not currently facing the sun (contrary to Pink Floyd’s assertions, there is no Dark Side of the Moon), you’d be able to see a lot of stars but the astronauts might be a bit hard to spot. The reflective nature of the moon’s surface is also a pretty plausible explanation for the "multiple light source" claims that many moon hoaxers fixate on.

The Moon Landings (all six of them) were faked in a Hollywood studio

There are a number of points people use to support this. Some of the shadow lengths are different, proving that the light came from multiple surfaces, the fact that the American flag appears to flutter in the breeze and the fact that the astronauts move like they’re on wires with the footage slowed down to approximate the effects of low gravity.

In order: the shadow lengths are different because the surface of the moon isn’t flat, it’s covered with craters, hills and other detritus that effect the length of the shadows. The flag flutters when the astronauts are pushing the flagpole into the ground and unfurling it and continues to move gently after they release it. And that’s how people move in low gravity — watch the videos of the high altitude “vomit comet” to see how difficult it is to move quickly in these conditions.

Consider this: if the landing were really faked in a studio, wouldn’t they have put stars in the background of the photos? And with six separate landings over three years, literally hundreds of producers, designers and production engineers would have had to work on the project — and yet none of them have emerged with evidence of the conspiracy…

What about the ‘C’ rock? It’s clearly a film prop…

Ah yes, the "C" rock. Or crock, possibly. The theory goes that a certain rock in a photo from the Apollo 16 mission has the letter C clearly visible. The only problem is, the C doesn’t actually appear on the original photo and is, most like, a photographic artifact (like a hair on the lens) during the enlargement process. The fact that someone at NASA once suggested that the C might be a practical joke added by a developer adds fuel to the conspiracy fires — conflicting excuses always mean a cover up, right?!

From the perspective of someone who spent a decade working in the movie industry, prop makers are not in the habit of labeling props with giant letters on the carefully painted sides of rocks/shrubs/post boxes — any identification goes on the flat (and often unpainted) bottom.

How does Buzz Aldrin feel about the conspiracy theories?

You still haven’t given any real evidence that man landed on the moon

Aside from the multitude of photos, telemetry tracking data (accidentally over-written for Apollo 11, available for all other moon landings) and moon rocks we brought back?

How about this …

While on the Apollo 11 mission, Buzz Aldrin placed a retroreflector on the surface of the moon which anyone with access to a laser can test. A couple more reflectors were added by the crews of Apollo 14 and 15, which allows scientists to calculate the exact distance from the Earth to the Moon at any time. If you have access to a high powered laser, you can test this one yourself.

If you like their blend of pop-science and explosions, The Mythbusters did an entire show on the Moon Landing Hoax, but it seems it takes more than a few gags, photos, videos, audio recordings, telemetry records and scientific evidence to convince the true truthseeker.

You’re just part of the conspiracy, Man

Sure I am. But it’s just me and 250 other people ...

In early 2016, Oxford University researcher Dr David Grimes published a study called 'On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs', which attempted to apply a mathematical equation to the failure probability for a given conspiracy. With a model based on known examples of real-world conspiracies, scandals and cover-ups, the study specifically looked at the moon landing, climate change denial, vaccination dangers and the great cancer cure cover-up.

The Grimes equation suggests that a conspiracy involving 1,000 people will be discovered in less than a decade, based on the time it took to reveal the PRISM affair, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments and the FBI Forensic scandal. With around 411,000 people working at NASA in the late 1960s, the Moon Landing hoax would likely have been uncovered in a mere 3.7 years. With over 50 years having passed, the Grimes equation predicts that a total of 251 people could have been involved to maintain the cover-up, which just doesn’t seem plausible to me.

So why haven’t we been back?

A number of reasons. After having seen men walk on the moon six times, the American public sort of lost interest and the oil crisis of 1973 sent the cost of a moon mission soaring. The space race had cost the country an enormous amount of money (estimated at around $23 billion during the 1960s alone), which wasn’t sustainable in the long term, particularly as political interest began to lag.

Getting to the moon (and space travel in general) isn’t just expensive, it’s dangerous, demonstrated by the explorers who lost their lives in the Challenger, Columbia and Soyuz 11 tragedies. Without a clear political benefit (beating the Russkies) the willingness to risk the lives of astronauts slowly diminished and the focus moved to Skylab and, eventually, the International Space Station, potential stepping stones for our journey to the next sgreat pace destination: Mars.

With Tesla head-honcho Elon Musk recently announcing his grand plan to "colonise Mars and save humanity" and the reality-TV driven Mars One project, it seems likely that we will see a manned mission to Mars within our lifetimes … but no doubt there will be some people who think it’s all a hoax.

Think for yourself.

Like what you read? John Turnbull's books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame, action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: Europe. Check them out!

You can also follow John on Twitter @blackmagicjohn.

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