The first moon landing, back on July 20, 1969, was a huge achievement, not just for the United States, but for all of mankind. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the lunar surface, it was a triumph for science and human endeavor, while also representing humanity’s first baby steps out into the larger universe. But for some people, some or all of the moon landings are also something else: A well-constructed fraud.
Below, we lay out some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the moon landings, but please keep in mind: we are not promoting them as true. Last thing we need is Buzz Aldrin running wild in the Geek.com offices socking people in the jaw.
First off, it’s important to note that not all moon landing conspiracy theorists are created equal. Some readily admit that humans have, since 1969, landed on the moon, and that only the first landing was faked. Others are all the way at the other end, contending that human beings have never landed on the moon. And, naturally, there are all manner of believers along the spectrum. So as not to go down absolutely every rabbit hole, we’ll be concentrating on the first lunar landing.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the evidence that suggests that Armstrong and Aldrin did actually land on the moon. First up, most obviously, there’s the video that shows the actual landing, along with footage of the rocket taking off and eyewitnesses that attest to that, “Yeah, they blasted off in a rocket.” In addition to the video footage there are also a slew of photos of the lunar surface, the astronauts and, most notably, an American flag stuck in the ground. Finally, the mission also returned with more than 47 pounds of lunar material.
Naturally, however, conspiracy theories have readily taken issue with all of these seemingly concrete pieces of evidence, with most of the discussion centering on the photos released by NASA. The fact that it is a massive, secretive government agency that released these photos is pretty much all that some people need to believe that there’s more than meets the eye. But, once combined with the Watergate and Vietnam-era suspicion and paranoia that embraced the United States in the 1970s, disbelief in NASA’s claims really began to really pick up steam.
The most frequently cited evidence for something fishy going on is a series of crosshairs that show up on photos in interesting ways. Normally, you would expect a crosshair to show up on the top “layer” of a photo, seeing as it’s something that is placed on an image by the photography process itself. However, some photos clearly show that pieces of crosshairs seem to disappear behind objects that, in a hoax situation, would have been added in. The response to this, however, is that the anomaly only seems to occur on copied and scanned photos, and is not observable on high quality originals.
A larger complaint is that, despite being on the moon — with what looks like a black night sky in the background — not a single star can be seen, and even more strangely, the astronauts claimed that they didn’t see any stars at all while on the moon! Of course, scientists have explained this one away pretty easily, seeing as the astronauts landed on the moon during the lunar day, and that the sky appears black because of the lack of atmosphere, like the one that makes the Earth’s sky appear blue.
We could spend the rest of this article and more discussing all of the specific anomalies, oddities and seeming inconsistencies that appear in the lunar photos, as well as the photographic and scientific evidence explaining them, but that line of thought basically comes down to “How much do you know and believe about 1969 photography and science.” So let’s turn our gaze to another contentious issue: The flag.
The United States flag planted in the ground on the moon appears to be waving triumphantly in the wind, but there’s a problem with that: There is no wind on the moon. Of course, NASA explains this pretty simply, saying that they were fully aware of the moon’s lack of wind, so they inserted a rod in the flag to make sure it didn’t just hang down, limp and impotent. Okay, but what about the ripples in the flag that you can clearly see in the photos? It certainly looks like the flag is blowing in the wind. But, again NASA has an explanation, which is basically that the flag got all creased in storage, making it appear to be waving in still photos, still photos that clearly show Armstrong moving around, but the flag staying in the same position.
But, there’s yet another conspiracy theory counter: In video footage, you can see the bottom corner of the flag swaying back and forth. Couldn’t this only be caused by wind? Wind that shouldn’t exist on the lunar surface? No, NASA says, it could also be caused by the energy created by planting the flagpole in the ground, energy that, with no atmosphere or air, took a really, really long time to disperse.
The conspiracies get deeper, weirder, more paranoid and complex from there — as they so often do. They feature claims that the entire thing was filmed on a soundstage, pointing to photos of training sessions as evidence of its plausibility. Some even claim involvement from Stanley Kubrick, a director who was said to have left clues to the hoax in his later work. While even other state that the landing itself would have been impossible due to any number of outer space conditions, such as solar flares or radiation, as well as disbelief that the United States’ 1969 technology could even accomplish such a thing. That last one was and remains particularly popular amongst our former Space Race opponents in Russia.
But, ultimately, like most wide-reaching conspiracy theories, the biggest red flag is: How come there hasn’t been a whistleblower yet? To fake something of this magnitude, thousands and thousands of people needed to keep quiet for more than 40 years now. Nixon couldn’t even keep Watergate under wraps! Combine this with the fact that human endeavors are always arranged by, well, humans, and it would stand to reason that if the entire thing was faked, even if someone didn’t spill the beans intentionally, they would have screwed up something, somehow, somewhere along the way.
Is there other evidence that we didn’t cover that leads you to believe that the moon landing was faked? Do you buy NASA’s explanations or do you think that there’s something else going on? Tell us below in the comments!
Aubrey Sitterson is the creator of SKALD, the ongoing sword & sorcery serial, available on iTunes, Stitcher & Podomatic. Follow him on Twitter or check out his website for more information.