Conspiracy Clinic
Did NASA really go to the moon?
Man on Moon
Main claim: The US government, in the 1960's, was so desperate to prove their superiority against the Soviet Union, they staged the moon landing from a sound stage in Nevada.
Man on Moon
Last update 22nd May 2012: (Rare Neil Armstrong Interview link (here) - Apollo 11)
Myth-o-meter 6%-20% of USA said to think it was a conspiracy.

UPDATED July 2011! The complete TV transmissions from the Moon - Apollo 11 now up.

I have uploaded a selection of the best official NASA moon landing documentaries. Apollo 11, Apollo 12, Apollo 15, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17. If this is all a conspiracy surely some of the evidence is in these documentaries?

 

Before all the conspiracy evidence, which is mainly an analysis of some strange pictures that are not what a layman might reasonably expect, here's the proof that they went:

The astronauts did actually leave something on the moon that has (verifiably) been used regularly ever since. In 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left a mirror device (picture below) on the moon's surface. This is used to measure the distance between the earth and the moon using a laser device from the McDonald Observatory, 4 hours drive from El Paso.

Mirror device on the moon

(Source: BBC Horizon documentary, What on Earth is wrong with Gravity?)

Also: Neil Armstrong gives his story of how Apollo 11 landed in this interview with CPA Australia. He's asked about the conspiracy claims in part 4.. http://thebottomline.cpaaustralia.com.au/

What are the claims, what is the evidence that it ws all a hoax?

The best evidence found (so far) that it could be a conspiracy:

1) NASA pictures: Even though the lander landed on a dusty moon, thrusters kicking up a large cloud of dust, there is no dust on the lander foot. How can this be? Some of the dust must surely have landed on the foot if this is a genuine picture.

No dust on lander foot

No dust on moon lander foot, 2 

2) Even though the moon lander created a cloud of dust on it's descent, there is no sign of this under the lander:

No dust disturbance under lander

3) With the sun behind an astronaut and no additional lighting taken by the astronauts to the moon, how come everything is so detailed in this picture below? The astronaut should be a silhouette but you can clearly see the front of his suit...

Impossible picture with sun behind

And how can we see the astronaut so clearly in the picture below when he is descending into a shadow?

Astronaut descending into shadow - lighting discrepancy

Mythbusters explains this phenomenon by showing, in an experiment, that the moon reflects light back and shows that the astronaut is visible without the need for a secondary light source.

Here is the video that debunks this particular conspiracy theory:

And, also, this picture which has the sun behind the lander: You can see in detail everything on the lander with the words 'United States' on it - this should all be in the shadow (as the sun was the only light source on the moon). These pictures are more like propaganda pictures than actual ones.

Moon lander sun behind but you can see everything in foreground

4) The astronauts took all of the still pictures using a fixed, front mounted camera:

NASA chesdt mounted camera, Armstrong

So how on earth did they take this picture? He must have been floating up sideways.

How Could this picture be taken with a front mounted camera?

5) There is evidence that some of the official pictures have been manipulated, allegedly by NASA. The picture, below, clearly shows cross hairs behind the image (which should never have happened as the cross hairs were burned into the image as part of the photographic process on the mission): (Click picture to enlarge)

Crosshairs under image - Apollo 11 mission picture

6) Film shows a flapping flag (with no twisting of the pole by the astronaut at least definitely in the second sequence) but there is no wind on the moon, how can this be? (This conspiracy point has always puzzled us because if NASA did fake it for $40bn, it would be quite easy to seal off the sound stage to prevent wind interfering with the flag, however look at this video evidence here and consider what you see...) (November 2009)

Flag flaps on the moon Flag flaps on the moon

7) The as17-141-21608 picture which apparently shows an astronaut with no back pack on reflected in the visor of another astronaut... Apollo 17.

This is a small version of the large image (click here for the original large version of the file):

Apollo 17 - Strange man reflected in visor?

Looking closely at the visor of the astronaut we see this:

Strange figure reflected in visor - Apollo 17

The image, above, seems to show a figure with no backpack on. This would be impossible if the picture was taken on the moon. Internet conspiracy theorists say this is a stage hand helping fake the moon landing images... This is a genuine NASA photo http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/AS17-141-21608HR.jpg.

Here's an explanation: Due to poor image quality you think you see the reflected astronaut facing in a different direction, he is in fact facing forwards...

So the reflected astronaut - who took the picture - must have been facing forwards to take the picture on his chest mounted camera. So, look again:

as17-141-21608 close up

 

Other interesting points:

Claim: There are strange pictures which seem to show erratic lighting on the moon, and other discrepancies. There is only one light source, the Sun, so all shadows should be parallel. But it seems that they are not in the picture below...

Alleged discrepancy in moon lighting

Below we have marked up a possible path of the lighting sources needed to make the shadows in the picture. 

Alleged moon lighting discrapancies with possible light source paths

In the picture, below, the shadow on the bolder in the top right goes to the left, but the shadow of the astronaut goes straight forward - this is simply impossible with only one light source... (Click picture to enlarge)

Strange shadows on the moon 2

No stars in the sky, but planet earth is clearly visible. Look at this near perfect picture taken from the NASA 40th anniversary page for the Apollo missions: This just can't be possible, can it? Or is this picture a manufactured montage?

Man on moon - earth behind 

The conspiracy theorists maintain that NASA kept the sky black because it would have been too complicated to fake the always moving stars in it. This picture is simply perfect, was it actually taken on the moon at all?

Here is an excellent conspiracy argument backed up with supposed video evidence. It is claimed that the astronauts were filmed on wires to accentuate the fact that they are in one sixth earths gravity. This video appears to show the astronauts being winched up on wires during the live apollo broadcasts.

And another clip, here, of an astronaut falling over and then apparently being held up by a wire, stopping him completely falling on the ground (his mid section never hits the ground)... And what on earth is that pole thingie collapsing for, wasn't it supposed to be going down into the soil)?

Claim: There is no engine noise behind the voice of the astronaut as it comes down to land on the moon. The sound of the engines should have been deafening.

Argument: The microphone is at the mouth of the astronaut. In space there is no sound, thus you couldn't hear the engine noise.

Claim: The space suits and the space craft were just not strong enough to fight off the radiation either on the Moon itself or through the Van Allen radiation belt.

Argument: They went through the Van Allen belt in an hour, this was not enough time to be affected by the radiation. The astronauts were affected by radiation, they just were not made ill by it as the doses were small. As for 'how did they survive the sun's radiation on the moon if the suits weren't strong enough': Hmmm... well, the suits must have been strong enough if you think the conspiracy is wrong, or they didn't go...

Claim: The moon walking, if doubled in speed, looks like running on earth.

Argument: Yea sorta... the honest answer to this is we don't have any references to compare it to, the moon is a different environment to anything we know of. You just can't tell if this is genuine or not.

Claim: On some of the film footage from the moon there seems to be identical scenery, one with the lander on, one without. Clearly the one without must be wrong as they had not been there before and after they left the lander base was still there.

Argument: But there are differences, the backgrounds are not identical if you look closely enough. The Moon is a pretty featureless place and certain mountains can look similar.

Claim: Identical backgrounds on different days with pictures of astronauts looking around but we are told this is a different day, how can this be?

Argument: It's a simple mistake.

Claim: People have been killed and threatened to keep this story quiet, that's why nothing has ever come out.

Argument: 750,000 people work either directly or indirectly for NASA - they couldn't keep this a secret. Yes but not everyone has the full picture. It would be possible for a small number of people to know about it as NASA is quite modular - an example would be the guys who made the rivets for the space module wouldn't need to know etc...

The astronauts did actually leave something on the moon that has (verifiably) been used regularly ever since. In 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left a mirror device (picture below) on the moon's surface. This is used to measure the distance between the earth and the moon using a lazer device from the McDonald Observatory, 4 hours drive from El Paso.

Mirror device on the moon

(Source: BBC Horizon documentary, What on Earth is wrong with Gravity?)

NASA destroyed the tapes of the Apollo 11 landing claiming that their aim was for live television. This is either monumentally short sighted, or evidence of some kind of cover up. (Source: BBC)

Argument: This is one of those excellent conspiracy points - why oh why oh why would they destroy this? NASA supporters say it is a monumental cock-up...

 

Postscript: In the documentary A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Moon, writer/ producer /director Bart Sibrel presents the following NASA video [link here] which we use here with his kind permission. This website now has confirmation that this is taken from genuine NASA footage (apart from the "Talk" speech, so far - I will take another listen to the footage another time). The documentary uses this genuine footage for what seems to be convincing proof that the astronauts faked pictures of the earth from the module by filming the earth through a far window to make it look like it was much further away but while the astronauts remained in a low earth orbit for the duration of what is claimed to be the hoax-mission.

But there is another TV transmission that the documentary fails to mention, and there is a copy of the interesting bit here. This video is of an earlier TV transmission (about 3.5 hours earlier) in which the moon is not blocked out and indeed you get to see the window frame through which the earth is filmed as the camera pans back.

Below is a still from the 30:28 GET - the bright light is earth as seen through the module window.

Apollo 11 - 3028GETTRANSMISSION

Added 21st January 2011: A copy of the speech in which John F Kennedy encouraged NASA to put a man on the moon before 'this decade is out' is here.

Where could this have been done? Filmed at Area 51 in Nevada high desert.

Why would 'they' cover it up? The political demands of succeeding in the space race, to prove USA's superiority in the cold war. US rocket science was not up to the job, this was politically unacceptable.

A reader e-mailed in this question: In your article you mentioned that there was no moisture on the moon (which is definitely true) and thus dust can not stick on any parts of the buggy or the lander. Now here's the kicker: What about the famous picture of the foot print on the moon? How can dust stick on the shoes of the space suit?

We replied: The footprint on the moon could have been made simply by a dry foot pressing down on dry, deep moon dust. Just because there was an impression it doesn't mean moisture made dust stick to the moon boot that made the impression... the dust could just have been pushed into that impression by a dry moon boot pressing downwards - it's really fine dust up there...

Another reader emailed in this question: If the Hubble telescope can see galaxies dozens of light years away, why can't we just turn '1' of our worlds super powerful telescopes at the moon and just see the flag?????? Doesn't SETI have such capabilities? Can't we see car license plates from orbiting satellites with today's technology... show me the flag!!!!!!!!

A reader has kindly been in contact and it seems that Hubble can, indeed, see the moon, trouble is it can't see anything as small as the landing debris on the moon... http://hubblesite.org/reference_desk/faq/answer.php.id=77&cat=topten . As for Earth orbiting satellites, they can only see the Earth (ie allegedly the licence plates) and not up at the moon.

 
 
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