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Why Do People Persist in Denying the Moon Landings?

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In the summer of 2009 the United States celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the first Moon landing, Apollo 11. Amidst all of the hoopla virtually every news story, especially in the electronic world, made some comment about a supposedly rising belief that humans have never landed on the Moon.  Why?

Buzz Aldrin

This image of Buzz Aldrin saluting the U.S. flag on the Moon in 1969 is often used by Moon landing deniers as evidence that the landing was filmed on Earth, because the flag appears to be waving in the breeze, and we all know there is no breeze on the Moon. When astronauts were planting the flagpole they rotated it back and forth to better penetrate the lunar soil (anyone who’s set a blunt tent-post will know how this works). Of course the flag waved—no breeze required!

Of course, from almost the point of the first Apollo missions, a small group of Americans have denied that it had taken place. This group seems to be expanding as the events of Apollo recede into history. Aided by a youth movement that does not remember what went down in the Apollo era and for whom distrust of government runs high, it is among that cadre of Americans where those who are skeptical have proliferated. Jaded by so many other government scandals, these younger members of society whose recollection of Apollo is distant to begin with finds it easy to believe the questioning they see on myriad Moon hoax web sites. Lack of understanding of science and failure to employ critical analytical skills make them more susceptible to this type of hucksterism.

There has been considerable research on the parts of society that embrace conspiracy theories of all types. Arguing that conspiracism writ large represents a fundamental part of the political system, legal scholar Mark Fenster claims in Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture (Minnesota, 2008), that such conspiracies represent “a polarization so profound that people end up with an unshakable belief that those in power ‘simply can’t be trusted’.”

At the time of the first landings, opinion polls showed that overall less than five percent “doubted the moon voyage had taken place.” Fueled by conspiracy theorists of all stripes, this number has grown over time. In a 2004 poll, while overall numbers remained about the same, among Americans between 18 and 24 years old “27% expressed doubts that NASA went to the Moon,” according to pollster Mary Lynne Dittmar. Doubt is different from denial, but this represents a trend that seemed to be growing over time among those who did not witness the events.

Perhaps this situation should not surprise us. A lot of other truly weird beliefs exist in society. Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt has been philosophical about this turn: “If people decide they’re going to deny the facts of history and the facts of science and technology, there’s not much you can do with them. For most of them, I just feel sorry that we failed in their education.”

While it is inappropriate for us to take this denial seriously and opinion surveys show consistently that few do, for those raised in the postmodern world of the latter twentieth century where the nature of truth is so thoroughly questioned it is more likely to gain a footing.

The media, especially, have fueled doubts over the years. While this may not be viewed as a definitive statement, a child’s bib I have seen places the blame squarely on the media’s back. It reads: “Once upon a time people walked on the moon. They picked up some rocks. They planted some flags. They drove a buggy around for a while. Then they came back. At least that’s what grandpa said. The TV guy said it was all fake. Grandpa says the TV guy is an idiot. Someday, I want to go to the moon too.”

No question, the February 2001 airing of the Fox special Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? changed the nature of the debate. In this instance a major network presented a conspiracy scenario without any serious rebuttal that might have been offered. As USA Today (April 9, 2001) reported in the aftermath of the show: “According to Fox and its respectfully interviewed ‘experts’—a constellation of ludicrously marginal and utterly uncredentialed ‘investigative journalists’—the United States grew so eager to defeat the Soviets in the intensely competitive 1960s space race that it faked all six Apollo missions.”


President John F. Kennedy in his historic message to a joint session of the Congress, on May 25, 1961 declared, “…I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Shown in the background are, (left) Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and (right) Speaker of the House Sam T. Rayburn.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans made it possible to reach the Moon. This launch of Apollo 11 represents one of the most watched events in human history. It defies credulity that so many people could have perpetrated such a hoax.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans made it possible to reach the Moon. This launch of Apollo 11 represents one of the most watched events in human history. It defies credulity that so many people could have perpetrated such a hoax.

The Fox show raised the profile of Moon landing deniers. And it sparked considerable response. Marc Norman at the University of Tasmania quipped, “Fox should stick to making cartoons. I’m a big fan of The Simpsons!”

Whereas NASA had refrained from officially responding to these charges—avoiding anything that might dignify the claims—the Fox show demanded that it change its approach. After the Fox program first aired, NASA released a one-paragraph press release entitled, “Apollo: Yes, We Did,” that was minimalist to say the least. It also posted a NASA information sheet originally issued in 1977 to readdress some of the concerns and pointed people with questions to various Internet sites containing responses. NASA officials added, “To some extent debating this subject is an insult to the thousands who worked for years to accomplish the most amazing feats of exploration in history. And it certainly is an insult to the memory of those who have given their lives for the exploration of space.”

Denials of the Moon landings appropriately should be denounced as crackpot ideas. I look forward to the time when we return to the Moon and can tour “Tranquility Base” for ourselves.

Roger D. Launius is a senior curator in the Space History Division of the National Air and Space Museum.

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121 thoughts on “Why Do People Persist in Denying the Moon Landings?

  1. Whether or not something is true or not, or considered just a conspiracy theory, the beauty of the United States is that the citizens are free to question everything, especially their government.

  2. MythBusters also did an episode on the Moon landing to “bust” a number of the conspiracy theories. If the MythBusters say we went to the Moon, then we went to the Moon…

  3. Ikah makes a very good point; the very fact that we can have this discussion on this blog is a testament to the genius idealism that makes up the US government system.

    If you’d like proof that we made it to the moon, come on into the museum and touch the moon rock that we have, go see Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon at the Udvar-Hazy Center, visit a lecture with some of the astronauts that went there, walk through our “Going to the Moon” gallery on the National Mall, or just review the facts from NASA, SI, and other institutions that discuss it.

    Conspiracy theories are just that: theories. More often than not, they surround a major issue or a controversial claim; going to the moon and placing our flag there certainly falls within that category. These theories most often prove false, but you’re free to believe whatever you wish to believe. Just make sure your belief is based on fact and logic before you accept it; a visit to NASM will probably change your mind.

  4. Why do they do it?
    Because doing so diminishes America’s standing in the world.
    It speaks to American exceptionalism that for a brief time, we came together and made something of our species.
    And that’s a threat to pregressivism.
    In my experience, the kooks behind this conspiracy nonsense are all leftist America haters.

  5. What can I say…People will deny what they can’t understand/ comprehend. They like to think ALL life has been and is on earth.

  6. Has the Smithsonian ever considered curating an exhibit on the various arguments that ‘hoaxers’ have? To my mind, that’s an excellent way to teach science-using it to debunk the junk. One could even delve into why people fall for hoaxes so easily as Curator Launius alludes.

    Also, a shorter more direct version of the above video would be helpful. Though I understand the passion in the speaker’s voice, it doesn’t ‘read’ the same as the in-person presentation I think that it was. I believe most people would cut it off before it gets to the meat of the material.

    BTW, I was nine when the moon landing happened and remember it as one of the most significant events of my life. Surrounded by my parents and grandparents (Dad was a pilot), we drank in the moment as we had had a part in making it happen. Still gives me chills!

    Thanks for such a great museum-I don’t visit often, but it’s truly one of America’s crown jewels!

  7. These are great ideas. I would love to do an exhibit or display someday on counter-narratives in the history of air and space. It is something to think about and perhaps pursue, the difficult is finding the resources necessary to make it real. I also appreciate the comment about my presentation. This was offered NASM in the “Ask An Expert” series of curator talks, for an in-house audience. Perhaps we could edit it, or make a shorter version at some future time. Thanks for your ideas.

  8. that was the worst Mythbusters episode ever, because they used NASA as their source for information. That’s like asking a child “did you make this mess?” and accepting “no” as their answer. If anything, they showed me that there is quite a high level of reasonable doubt for this debate. I had hoped they would have tried harder.

  9. just because someone disagrees with you, does not make them “leftist”

    i know plenty of people who would call themselves “rightists” that firmly believe the moon landing was a hoax, and have been angry at the government for tricking them ever since.

  10. Because it’s an absolute fact. Go to the Nasa photo archive and download the high def pictures #AS11-44-6642 and AS12-47-6892. Import them into photoshop cs4, click Image-Adjustment-equalize. Presto, case solved. Our government are not even good liars, but their not pitching to intellectuals. The American public have been dumb ed down to the point that even a completely incompetent group could pull off the events of 911 and convince these sheep that Osama “the bad guy” Bin Laedin pulled it off. With the tons of evidence that the government was complicit, it’s obvious that Americans are deaf and dumb as well.

  11. I, for one, take great pleasure in reading the contributions of people like Mr. Casebolt. This world needs more of this type of entertainment; without such, what a boring world this would be, indeed. Steve, keep up the great work!

    For everybody else– keep your shirt(s) on! It’s only a joke. He’s JOKING. I don’t fully understand British humor either.

  12. What kind of computer technology did they have in the 60’s- do you really think that kind of technology could get you to the moon and back? Get real people- it didn’t happen. If it did, why can’t we just go again if it was so easy that it could be done in the 60’s.

  13. What I fail to understand is the motive that moon-landing deniers believe the government would have had for deceiving the public in such a way.

  14. Why can’t we just go again? Because it’s very, very expensive business and the Government has no intention of spending a fortune to send astronauts there for a day or two again. NASA’s plans for the future are much more ambitious and it will take much more effort and budget than Apollo program.

    Many of us accept some conspiracy theories. OK with me. We live in free society, we believe different things, we disagree, but Moon landing hoax theory is definitely one of the most stupid conspiracy theories ever conceived.

    Apollo program is very well documented. Literally thousands of pictures and hours and hours of footage wait for anyone who doubts it was real.

    I think one of the main problems of our society is large scale ignorance. I have met many Apollo doubters who have not seen anything more than some conspiracy videos. They barely scratched the surface of all available material, but somehow they believe they know so much…

    Education is important and sadly, most conspiracy believers are seriously lacking.

  15. Recent trends show the moon landing denials fading.

    The big reason we’ve seen Apollo denials is that we retreated from the moon and haven’t yet been back. For people born since the moon landings, this made the moon seem as distant and unattainable a goal as it seemed in 1950.

    As the moon and other goals become realistic for our species again, awareness grows among the public that as a species we are doing this a second time, building on what we have learned.

    Another factor is that social rewards shifted. Many people are drawn to far-fetched conspiracy theories out of fear of looking stupid. The far-fetched conspiracy theory is the lazy mind’s imitation of critical thinking. It is supposed to carry the same social reward as real critical thinking–marking one as nobody’s fool, as an adult who doesn’t believe everything he or she is told–while providing a shortcut around the task of really learning the subject.

    This works only as long as the general public is widely ignorant of details. The denier gets to “fill in” everyone and feel triumphant. When that pattern shifts the attempt backfires. Deniers gain no status with the now tougher audience and it is now they who must back up more of what they say. Most get quiet.

    The moment that shifted momentum in the case of Apollo came when a moon landing denier acted like an insulting, braying ass on camera and astronaut Buzz Aldrin socked him in the jaw. People everywhere applauded. The deniers themselves now noticed that they did not like the company they were keeping.

    Another factor is that memory of the irresponsible Fox-TV show is itself fading.

    A big factor is one few people have pointed out: popular understanding of photography has increased hugely since the show was aired. Most of the arguments in that show were based on ignorance of photography. Thousands more people now know why stars don’t appear in a photo, or how reflected light illuminates objects in shadow, or how the angles of shadows vary on uneven surfaces. The arguments evaporate in the face of their daily experience.

    That in itself spotlights the most damning thing about the Fox TV show. The network aired specious comments by deniers with no space given to experts for rebuttal. Yet at the very moment it did so, Fox had people IN the room–the professionals working in its camera crew–who could have responded to the claims if asked.

  16. In the first photograph the shadow of the flag pole is 180 degrees of all other shadows. I believe we got there but this photograph puzzles me.

  17. Ed, I read that it is because the moon’s surface is reflecting the light, and many other things is also reflecting the light.

  18. I think they persist because there is seemingly more evidence that there was no moon landing. People have asked a few simple things to prove that it happened and somehow NASA cannot deliver the evidence to back up their story. How easy is coming up with that evidence? Way easier than landing on the moon! Questioning government agencies can only make our country stronger, because people will learn the truth instead of believing lies, its not undermining anything at all, except for deception. Do you want to live in a country that is based on deception?

  19. The reason why there is “more” evidence that the moon landings where faked is that fake evidence is easy to obtain: you make it up. Conspiracy theorist take random objects, materials, facts, statements, and documents, and magically transform them into critical pieces of “evidence” by making up a creative context in which to place the items.

    Conspiracy theorists will never run out of evidence. No matter how much proof to hand them, they will turn around and invent one more “startling fact” to insure they’ve always got one more piece of evidence because human beings are fooled by numerology. Quality of the evidence, and whether it passes critical thinking tests, doesn’t matter.

    As to why people circulated the moon landing hoax in the first place, and why they persist, the general reason is pretty simple: there’s a perverse attraction in ignorance.

    People who are ignorant to begin with tend to feel intimidated by the complexity of the world and society. They compensate for their lack of knowledge and understanding by telling themselves “ignorance is bliss” and that most things aren’t worth knowing. It’s just a bunch of nonsense that others trick themselves into thinking is important. These people also tend to be anti-intellectuals and are afraid of anyone who appears to have a high degree of abstract intelligence – they’re afraid those people will trick them and deceive them.

    Subjects like the moon landing hoax have great appeal for the ignorant and the willfully ignorant because the hoax is a flat denial of a great achievement by a bunch of “smart people”. Untrustworthy scientists. Thinkers. Eggheads. America in particular has a troubled history of its “down to earth” farmbelt people distrusting “city slickers”, those with high levels of education, and thinkers. The moon landing hoax is a linchpin in an attitude of anti-intellectualism. Proving that smart people can’t do most of what they claim they can and must resort to tricks to appear impressive.

    Ignorant people never seem to consider that the tools and implements their conspiracy theories rely on, such as photography and television studios, were things developed and refined by yet more smart people. But critical thinking isn’t a strong suite for those who buy into conspiracies.

    The reason why belief in the moon landing hoax is ridiculous above all, is that foolish people think they’re clever for denying that “the government” as they see it, wasn’t as capable and clever as it claimed. What they’re actually denying is the incredible amount of work and dedication of hundreds of thousands of persons who not only made the US space program possible, but ushered in the space age for the entire world.

    There’s nothing mysterious or unreachable about space. To people who educate themselves, it is remarkably close and understandable. Our entire world is supported by a complex network of satellites and space based technology. We have space stations, and even civilian companies building space-capable ships and equipment. We have placed nuclear powered explorers on Mars, far beyond the moon.

    To deny the moon landing is to deny the reality of much of the world around us today; that’s the height of selfish, conceited irrational thinking.

  20. There are some very good arguments made here. I LOVED the third paragraph of AT’s post. That is absolutely true of pseudointellecuals. Even reminds me of someone whom I used to know.

    Mori, I have to say something here: I see where you are going with the rhetoric and reasoning to support the success of the lunar landings but why generalize that it’s the farmbelt countryfolk who are being duped by the lunar landing naysayers? And the “educated city slicker/thinkers” are the ones who support it? Not necessarily…in either case. I don’t live in the so-called farm belt, among the simpletons you refer to. Nor am I a “city-slicker”. Your simplistic generalization is bogus. When presented facts and evidence a person who uses it to form a conclusion versus someone who simply refuses to accept it and forms their own facts versus another who simply believes anything they’re told without question is a matter of individuality. It doesn’t matter whether they live in a town of 10 or 10 million…whether your religious or not…or your culture. People are individuals. A graduate from an Ivy League school sitting atop a penthouse in Lower Manhattan having philosophical debates with collegues over cocktails doesn’t necessarily exhibit more credibility or intelligence…than someone who is self-taught and works their land for a living. A farm is a business and requires someone who is mentally tough and skilled to run it. The “farmbelt” is as equally capable of producing an intelligent, critical thinking individual as anywhere. The “city” is as equally capable of producing an ignorant and gullible individual too.

    We stand on the shoulders of geniuses whose inventions give us all a quality of life that we take for granted. Many are directly tied to the space program. It was also geniuses who have made NASA successful–to inlude six manned lunar landings under Project Apollo. These scientists came from ALL walks of life and backgrounds. So did the technicians, project managers, craftsmen, and even the astronauts themselves. Neil Armstrong, for example, happened to be from Wapakoneta, Ohio–one of those “farmbelt” towns…
    Sorry Mori, I had to. I’m not even from the “farmbelt” and I’m not a farmer. I’m not exactly a city-slicker either. I was just being a critical reader. The rest of your post sets fine with me, though.

    I’m not going to make any arguements to support the lunar landings. If I want proof, there is more than I can possibly fathom. I’m not going to argue with the conspiracy-theorists either. They have the right to believe what ever they want–even if it’s based on doubt instead of data and facts.

    On a broader scheme: Should we scrutinize our government? Sure. Opinions and beliefs? More than plenty to go around for everyone. Hey, question everything!–that’s intelligence. Denying facts and evidence because you are being stubborn and pessimistic–is not.

    I am proud of what we have accomplished in aeronautics and space exploration. I would love to witness a manned landing on the Moon or even Mars in my lifetime.

  21. Americans are so touchy and sensitive on this subject. Relax. The Russians still beat you in travelling to space and that personally impresses me more… I don’t really see the point in landing on the moon.

    Anyway I think the reason some people doubt the moon landing is because: 1) During the Cold War there was a space race between Russia and USA. The Russians went into space first, therefore the Americans wanted to “one up” this achievement. 2) Some assume that the technology in the 60s wasn’t good enough to actually land on the moon. 3) JFK publicly stated that it was his goal to have Americans going to the moon by the end of the decade. The landing happened in 1969, which some people may think was a desperate attempt for him to fulfill this promise… There may be other reasons too, I don’t know.

  22. Pingback: Sometimes it’s really hard to trust a good old American flag | We Run and Ride

  23. If there was any gravity at all the on the moon, that flag in the photograph would not be so straight along the top.

  24. Apollo was a hoax, the evidences are innumerable, now 42 years after the last man ever “walked” on the moon!

  25. the so called evidence many hoax cheerleaders believe as proof we faked it, is wrong. there are websites out there spreading these lies and misinformation.” a funny thing happened on the way to the moon” is a good example of bad astronomy. this documentary is filled with misinformation, and outright lies. yet skepticts believe it without question, the very thing they accuse believers of. there is nothing wrong with doing research to double check things we have been told. however the facts and evidence outshine the hoax believers theories. hoax believers feel that if they cannot understand something, then it is impossible. they have no knowledge of science, astronomy, or physics, so if they do not see something they feel they should see, then it must be a hoax. many non americans fall into this catagory, mainly because of their jealousy and hatred of the us, , plus their lack of understanding for the space program.

  26. People try so hard to believe in the hoax theory, even though these theories have been disproven time and time again these people are in denial of the truth. It is a shame they do not do research and obtain knowledge so they can understand science and not deny it.

  27. Aaro , The flag had a metal rod that was inserted horizontally into the flag to hold it up. Some of the believers need to get informed as well. The info on the flag is available as well as instructions on how to set it up. The ridged top line of the flag was not being supported by lesser gravity. The moon does have gravity obviously. So do we have ignorant people on both sides? Yes and that is obvious. There are brilliant deniers as well as believers, but I am not impressed with the assumptions from the believers and many think they are smart just because they accept the moonlanding as being 100% real without doing any research. Maybe these ignorant people would believe it was faked being that they do not understand anything about the landings. Well many skeptics watch, wonder and question which is very scientific and this goes beyond accepting the apollo stories as gospel. Sure it is unpatriotic to deny the landings. And many people are afraid to question authority and go along with the status quo despite claims that the landings could be fake and to laugh at the loons who question it. Really, a museum with photographs and moonrocks, does not prove we went. The rocks are also questionable, and no scientist would ever lie or falsify the evidence. It just doesn’t happen. Lawyers and politicians and scientists are 100 percent truthworthy.

  28. Theorists ignore all facts and evidence. Their minds are usually already made up. It’s a shame they don’t realize what humans are capable of. They just need a better understanding g of the space program. Some of them think we didn’t have the technology back then, the computers were simple but that’s all that needed. People just need to be more educated about the space program that will make things more clear to them.

  29. No one here can actually confirm if they did or did not happen none of use where the people in that shuttle so none of us really know what happened so someone who believes that it did happen can not prove it any more than someone can disprove it there is a collection of evidence to support both.

    and especially since far eastern country’s like china and Korea have recently faked space expeditions its only even more feasible that it may not have happened.

    I don’t think its right to categorise some people as “theorists” that are so called fact & evidence ignoring fools that don’t have a clue when clearly there is reason to believe that it may not have happened.

    and there is also clearly evidence to say it did happen.

    I think sometimes people need to just enjoy the debate and look at evidence from both parties and be a little less biased and less offensive to each other.

    and on a last note I think the best thing about the space program is it inspires a dream in people whether it happened or not it still had a positive impact in the lives of the people of the world.

  30. I feel theorists just lack knowledge. Many are very smart but they just do not feel we could have made it to the moon. There is plenty of evidence to support the landings. I do believe someone would have talked be now if it was faked. The whole idea is very silly, once a person gets educated about the landings. Once things are explained and misunderstandings are cleared up people can really understand the landings are a fact of u.s. history. Of course this will not stop people from inventing their crazy theories. The government is covering it up nasa lies etc. I agree people should be nice and debate like humans and not talk down to people like they are dumb for whatever they believe. I know the landings happened all six of them, but people will always say otherwise. Even though the moon hoax is silly and a weak conspiracy because it’s been disproven time and time again. People just love conspiracy theories.

  31. The moon landings happened. However it is ok to question things that the government tells us like they say trust but verify. I agree the hoax thing is redicullous, seems paranoia and lack of knowledge play an important part in these theories. There is a reason they are theories and not fact. Of course you will still get the occasional hoaxer claiming we all need to stop being government sheep and “wake up” but that’s ok because this America. I can understand people not believing because overactive imaginations and no education about the space program can lead to skepticism or denial altogether.

  32. It is sad in this day and age people want to deny a great achievement like the moonlandings. Some people just make stuff up to sound interesting. Some astronauts died while practicing missions on earth. Very unfortunate, but some say they were killed to prevent them from talking about the hoax. Crazy there is no proof to support this. It goes to show hoaxers and theorists will stop at nothing to keep their lie going. Capricorne one was a movie that helped fuel more people to claim hoax. Again paranoia at work. The landings happened I wish people would learn, and do research.

  33. This one is actually the only conspiracy I believe in. Has anyone seen the footage of the astronauts filming the Earth in the window, pretending to make it appear more and more distant? It was footage that was accidentally leaked by NASA and is suspicious.

    I think there is a lot of practical and scientific evidence and to say people are just morons for questioning it is annoying. My two questions I have a hard time answering even though I think it was faked are why would we go back numerous times? What was the deal with Apollo 13, a faked accident seems odd?

  34. Actually the footage is misinterpreted. Conspiracy theorists say everything is suspicious. What is happening is the astronauts wanted to get the best view of the earth, so they blocked some of the light from the sun that was reflecting on the module., so the view of the earth would be more clearly visible. Bart siebrel who is a theorist claimed this was also “faked” footage accidentally released. That’s just misinformation. People just need better research, there are lots of lies and misleading information about the landings. Some is common sense, but some is people getting crazy incorrect theories from conspiracy websites. The hoax theory on the moon is the weakest one. It’s been disproven so many time however when people do not understand how apollo works, that’s why they think it’s fake.

  35. The moonlandings are real. All the hoax believers are following misinformation and theories that are proven to be wrong. Many are very smart with a high i.q. but that doesn’t mean they are right. Many intelligent people make very unintelligent statements. They just have their information wrong. Some want to continue believing the lie that man cannot make it to the moon. We did it six times. All fake? Not a single person came foward? Of course some just will not believe because they do not understand how the space program works. So in their minds it is fake. Remember you have a right to your own opinion but you don’t have a right to your own facts. If a hoaxer just does some credible research, they will realize how silly the whole theory really is. The scientists at nasa know more than theorists, or hoaxers. I am sure they are more credible than someone who thinks we can’t go to the moon. Some will say it is great to keep an open mind, sure it is great not to believe everything you are told, but all the evidence disproves all the hoax theories. Remember, there are people l selling DVDs filled with misinformation and outright lies, but some just love conspiracies and always think the official story is fake, so they waste their money on them. If we listen to hoax beliebers, then they say we can’t do anything. We might as well all be dead. Some will argue the sky isn’t blue or the earth is flat. The whole footage with the astronauts looking at the earth was misinterpreted they did try to get a good clear shot of the earth but the glare from the sun was reflecting off the lunar module, so they tried to cover most of the light to make a clearer picture of earth. Many jump to conclusions without facts and believe some hoax believer with no credibility. We landed on the moon, how hard is that to understand after learning the facts? Not to hard at all. Some theorists will never be happy even if they were brought to the moon they would cry hoax.

  36. The landings happened, I researched it for years I never found any evidence of fakery. Of course some people have wild imaginations, and think everything is fake. NASA engineers are smart they know what they are doing. I thing a lot of foreigners don’t have education about space which is why so many deny the landings. Evidence is all around us do some research people and learn not everything is a hoax.

  37. Here’s one for hoaxers. Look at the moonbuggy, watch the dirt that it kicks up while moving. It goes up and falls straight down, with no dust. That’s because they are in a vacum. Had this been on earth there would be dust. So either they are on the moon or a gigantic sound stage with all the air removed. Come on hoaxers get educated about space and the space program instead of saying things are impossible because you think you are a self proclaimed expert in rocket science.

  38. Russia and China have never been to the moon because they cannot afford it. The Americans share a space station with the Russians but have decided not to share the half century year old space technology with them because you don’t do that with countries you share a space station with. Most Americans have better technology in the cell phones in their pockets than the Apollo computers did, so Russia and China haven’t just been opting not to give their countries some pride by sending a man to the moon, but rather by accepting that they cannot duplicate science the Americans had in the 1960s. The Moon was a quick few days and 240,000 mile journey back in 1969 for the Americans, and now 45 years later, think of how much more easily we get their!…These Russians and Chinese scientists just cannot possibly duplicate our technology from the 1960s. Hoaxers are so crazy, can’t they just accept that the grainy black and white images from the Nixon administration should be more than enough proof that the moon landings happened? They also like to talk about how NASA lost the film from the original moon landing and how that’s crazy. Things don’t last forever Hoaxers! Its film for goodness sake, and its not like it was being kept under secured watch by a government agency that deals in rocket science, just accept that this evidence was lost! Crazy hoaxers try to steal my pride in Americans landing on the moon? How do you explain the stuff that’s on the moon? Machines? Robots couldn’t put things on the moon, only an astronaut can!

  39. Darren,

    You are very young.
    If you were my age (long past 40) you would know that the Apollo crew did not travel in a ‘shuttle’.

    I quote,
    >No one here can actually confirm if they did or did not happen none of use where
    > the people in that shuttle so none of us really know what happened

    It’s not a matter of belief.
    I hold a PhD in planetary science, I have hardware on Mars, and have participated in three major planetary spacecraft missions. I remember the Apollo missions, have scrutinized the Engineering Model and Flight Spare parts of many of the systems involved. I’ve spoken with astronauts, some from the Apollo era, some from the STS era.

    It all hangs together – it forms a coherent whole.

    The evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the historical record being an accurate one.

    It is emphatically not a case where you have two evenly balanced cases; one for, one against.

    >clearly there is reason to believe that it may not have happened.

    Name one and I will dismantle it.

    If you live near Texas, I can introduce you personally to people at the Centre for Advanced Space Studies, near JSC.


    -James Garry, CPhys, PhD

  40. A space capsule would need heavy lead shielding to get it through the Van Allen Radiation belt. Twice. Even if having minor effect on the occupants, the ship’s electrical systems would have fried. They didn’t go over it- that’s not on the trajectory maps.

  41. Yes, it never fails to amaze me, this one. I think it is right up there with Bill Gates being a second generation dark evil overlord who wants to kill all the babies in Africa and, in addition, that Taylor Swift is a Reptillian. This is what non schooling produces. Scary, isn’t it? How can people believe such stuff. I enjoy talking to people like that though, they’re kind of funny. By the way, if we didn’t land on the moon then why are there man made reflectors on it’s surface?

  42. No responses to the Van Allen radiation belts?

    Please explain…

    How did the astronauts survive this with pencil thin craft and laughable 60’s spacesuits.

  43. So, Van Allen belts. Ok. To understand the following explanation, as I see it, you’ll require an understanding of physics, algebra (contrary to popular belief algebra is very essential in real life), calculus and a grasp of SI units expressions. If, of course, you have been used to seeing the phrase ‘must try harder’ in your years gone by, don’t bother reading this : Source… scientific journal sourced through google search engine.


    During the period 1968-1972, the United States sent nine manned missions, named Apollo, to the Moon. These missions remain the only flights in history to send human beings beyond low Earth orbit. To reach the Moon, these spacecraft had to pass through regions of intense ionizing radiation called the Van Allen radiation belts (VARB). The VARB are named after American space scientist Dr. James A. Van Allen (1914-2006), who designed the experiment that first detected them in 1958.

    Because radiation is a scary word to those who really don’t know much about it, the VARB are often targeted by conspiracy theorists who claim the Apollo lunar missions were nothing but a colossal hoax. They say the VARB are an impenetrable barrier deadly to any spacefarer who attempts to traverse them. The truth is much different and more complex. Whether or not the VARB are impassable is a problem with a calculable solution. In this article I will endeavor to solve the radiation problem by producing an estimate of the radiation dose received by the Apollo astronauts. Only then can we see the truth in uncertain terms.

    This page is a companion to my previous article, Apollo 11’s Translunar Trajectory (and how they avoided the heart of the radiation belts), in which I computed the trajectories that the Apollo 11 mission flew to and from the Moon. This gives us knowledge of the exact time and location of Apollo 11 within the VARB, allowing determination of the radiation levels to which the spacecraft was subjected during its passage through this region. Although Apollo 11 will be our test subject, it should be understood that all the Apollo missions flew similar trajectories. We can therefore consider Apollo 11 representative of all lunar flights.

    Conspiracy Theories

    Radiation is a favorite topic of many moon landing hoax theorists. No matter how badly they may lose the debate on other issues, they believe that space radiation is the one thing that trumps all others. If it were impossible for spacefarers to survive the Van Allen radiation belts then Apollo was hoaxed regardless of what all other evidence suggests. The argument typically goes like this:

    Radiation is bad + There is radiation in space = Space is bad

    That’s generally all you’ll get because that’s all they know. It’s no secret that space radiation exists, and we all know radiation can cause death, so, to the conspiracy theorist, the only conclusion is that space is a maelstrom of deadly radiation that will fry any outbound astronaut. Unfortunately this is a very simplistic and naive way of looking at the problem. Radiations vary dramatically in strength and intensity, with some being dangerous and some being harmless background radiation. Whether or not a human will experience illness or death is related to the radiation dose received. It is a problem with a very real answer that can be determined quantitatively.

    I have seen only one hoax proponent attempt to prove the radiation claim mathematically, but his attempt was marred by many egregious errors and omissions, leading to wildly inaccurate numbers (see review here). It is fair to say that no conspiracy theorist possesses the expertise to correctly solve the problem, for if he did, he would know better than to subscribe to the hoax theory. Absent the ability to perform a proper quantitative solution, the conspiracists are forced to look for circumstantial evidence. They can generally do little more than point out what they believe to be suspicious activity or resort to quote mining.

    Quote mining is the deceitful tactic of taking quotes out of context in order to make them seemingly agree with the quote miner’s viewpoint. Below is one such example. In this case I’ve provided the accompanying text that the conspiracists are likely to omit, or at least draw your attention away from. The bolded text is the part the conspiracists highlight as being relevant to their argument.

    “The successful operation of the solar batteries and the transmitter of Vanguard I (Satellite 1958 Beta) for over two years (as of the present date of writing) and the successful operation of similar equipment in Sputnik III (Satellite 1958 Delta) over a similar period provide the most direct evidence for the survival of electronic equipment in space vehicles. The integrated radiation exposures in these two cases are still much below the level at which serious deterioration may be expected.

    “But, though mechanical and electronic equipment can operate within the high radiation areas, a living organism cannot survive this level of radiation damage. Hence, all manned space flight attempts must steer clear of these two belts of radiation until adequate means of safeguarding the astronauts has been developed.”

    Dr. James Van Allen, Space World, December 1961.

    The bolded part is portrayed by the conspiracists as Dr. Van Allen agreeing with them that any venture into the VARB is lethal. However the context of that statement appears in the first paragraph, which the conspiracists deceptively conceal. Here we see that Dr. Van Allen is specifically discussing two missions that where each over two years in duration. He writes “a living organism cannot survive this level of radiation damage”, where the ‘level of radiation damage’ is a reference to the integrated radiation exposures from the cited 2-year long missions. He also writes about “operat(ing) within the high radiation areas”, which is in the context of extended missions, not rapid transits. Even then he doesn’t say it is impossible, only that “adequate means of safeguarding the astronauts” is required. Nothing in his statement precludes the possibility of rapid transits through the region while on the way to or from the Moon.

    Below is another quote highlighted by the conspiracists:

    “So far, the most interesting and least expected result of man’s exploration of the immediate vicinity of the earth is the discovery that our planet is ringed by a region–to be exact, two regions–of high-energy radiation extending many thousands of miles into space. This discovery is of course troubling to astronauts; somehow the human body will have to be shielded from this radiation, even on a rapid transit through the region.”

    Dr. James Van Allen, Scientific American, March 1959.

    Here Dr. Van Allen specifically addresses rapid transits through the region, stating only that the human body will have be to be shielded. Also note that the dates of these quotes are many years prior to the first lunar flight in 1968, giving designers adequate time to further study the problem and devise solutions. In fact, Dr. Van Allen helped to design the Apollo lunar trajectories, which were engineered specifically to lessen radiation exposure. Despite the conspiracists’ insistence that Dr. Van Allen agrees with them, he has rejected the claim that radiation exposure during the Apollo missions would have been fatal to the astronauts, calling it “nonsense”.

    This quote mining doesn’t end with Dr. Van Allen. In recent years talk has ramped up about extended stay lunar missions and missions to Mars. Many of these conversations have addressed the severity of the radiation problem and how it must be solved before these missions can be undertaken. Of course these are just the kind of statements that a conspiracy theorist will embrace and take out of context to mean that Apollo was impossible. There is a big difference between a 10-day mission to the Moon and a 2.5-year mission to Mars – they are simply not comparable in terms of the radiation problem. The Apollo problem was solved decades ago, the Mars problem still needs some work.

    When conspiracy theorists aren’t mining for quotes, they go about pointing out actions that they suggest indicate evidence of wrongdoing. For instance, they love to call attention to the fact that the United States is the only nation to have sent astronauts beyond low Earth orbit, and last did so in 1972. The implication being that if it were possible to travel beyond the VARB, then surely somebody else would have done it by now. The simple truth is that no one has had adequate motivation to commit the massive funds and resources necessary to go back to the Moon or beyond. However there are indications this attitude may be changing, for instance Chinese officials have indicated they are interested in potential future manned lunar missions.

    Another hoax story that has cropped up from time to time is the assertion that the strength and intensity of the VARB is far greater than published. The conspiracists claim that NASA has hidden the real data and replaced it with false data. If we could only get our hands on the real data, they claim, it would show that Apollo was impossible. This is a ludicrous proposition. First, NASA is not the sole proprietor of VARB knowledge – other spacefaring nations have also studied the VARB – so for the assertion to be true it requires international cooperation. And second, space is a multi-billion dollar industry that depends on the accuracy of the VARB models. If the models were false, then billions of dollars of space hardware would be failing due to under designed radiation protection. Instead we find that satellites perform in a manner consistence with the published data.

    No other spacefaring nation has expresses doubts about the ability to traverse translunar space, and they all acknowledge that Apollo succeeded in landing astronauts on the Moon. Furthermore, the United States is not the only nation to have sent living creatures to the Moon. In September 1968 the Soviet Union’s Zond 5 became the first spacecraft to swing around the Moon and return to land on Earth. The mission was planned as a precursor to a manned lunar spacecraft. It carried a biological payload of two Russian tortoises, wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter. The biological payload was intact, proving that it was possible to survive a lunar flight and safely return to Earth. As a result of Zond 5, and Zond 7 in 1969, the Soviet Union concluded that, “seven-day flights along the trajectories of Zond-5 and 7 probes are safe from the radiation point of view.”

    It seems the only people who doubt the ability of manned spacecraft to safely traverse the VARB are conspiracy theorists.

    Radiation Plan for Apollo

    No one doubted that once humans ventured beyond Earth’s atmosphere they would have to be provided with air and protected from the surrounding vacuum. But no one doubted, either, that this could be done by straightforward extensions of existing technology. Yet that last small cloak of air is of vital importance to life on Earth. It shields us almost completely from dangerous radiation, and from the incessant downpour of meteors. There were those who believed before 1957 that neither human nor vehicles could survive for long outside the protective blanket of the atmosphere.

    But even the first satellites showed that the danger from meteorites had been grossly overestimated by the pessimists. And the danger from the known cosmic radiations had been greatly exaggerated; with the possible exception of solar flares, the hazard they presented was almost negligible to short duration space flight.

    One of the most important discoveries made in space was reported by the very first American satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958. It was revealed that several huge layers of radiation particles are trapped by Earth’s magnetic field, called the Van Allen radiations belts. This discovery came as a considerable shock as here was a previously unknown but very real peril, which made certain regions of space uninhabitable without a prohibitive weight of shielding. However, it was soon realized that the VARB represented an obstacle to be bypassed, not a complete roadblock. By choosing suitable orbits it was possible to avoid the most intense levels of radiation; and to outward-bound spacecraft the belts were no serious menace because the vehicles passed through them swiftly.

    Observations from the ground and from spacecraft demonstrated that the space radiation hazard was one of the lesser engineering problems to be overcome in Apollo spacecraft design and mission planning. Flux maps of the Van Allen belts were developed, solar flare particle events were subjected to intensive statistical analyses, and techniques were developed to calculate radiation doses behind complex spacecraft structures. Van Allen belt radiation doses were kept small by use of low-altitude Earth orbits and rapid transits to the Moon along trajectories with inclinations of about 30 degrees. Only the very large (and consequently very rare) solar flare particle events constituted a hazard for moderately shielded spacecraft. Also, secondary radiation was not significant for such spacecraft.

    Most of Apollo’s radiation protection activity was directed towards providing protection against major solar flare particle events that might occur while astronauts were in the lunar module or on the lunar surface. The events, which start at the sun, were detected by ground-based instrumentation and were measured at the spacecraft by dosimeters and particle spectrometers. A prognosis of the radiation dose was prepared and continually updated by radiation environment specialists using a console in the Mission Control Center (MCC). Dose estimates were then provided for the use of the medical officer, who advised the Flight Director of the radiation effects to be expected.

    The Solar Particle Alert Network (SPAN) was established to support the Apollo program. The network has seven stations around the world, situated so as to provide 24-hour coverage of the Sun at both optical (weather permitting) and microwave frequencies. There were three stations equipped with both optical and radio telescopes, namely, Houston, Texas, Carnarvon, Australia, and the Canary Islands. There were four additional sites equipped with optical telescopes only. SPAN’s function was to monitor solar activity during the missions and provide warnings of particle events. Time of occurrence, area, and location of the flare were determined by SPAN observers and were teletyped to the MCC where the data were incorporated into the estimate of the particle event size. The radio burst profile was also teletyped to the MCC. Data from SPAN were augmented by data from the solar and ionospheric monitoring systems operated by the Environmental Science Services Administration and the Air Weather Service.

    If SPAN detected that a large solar flare was imminent, there was a few hours’ advance notice of the particle flux. This was adequate time for the astronauts on the Moon to get back to the LM, take off, rendezvous with the CSM, and take cover as best they could. While in lunar orbit, the Moon would protect the astronauts for half of each orbit. At other times the spacecraft would be turned so the bulk of the service module was between the astronauts and the incoming particles. The astronauts had a handheld Geiger counter so they could find the safest spot in the command module cabin should they have to ride out a solar flare.

    During Apollo’s operational period of 1969 to 1972, there were only three solar events that had a biological significance, none of which occurred during a mission. Only one event, in August 1972, was large enough to have caused severe illness.

    Radiation Basics

    Radiation may be defined as energy in transit in the form of high-speed particles and electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic radiation is very common in our everyday lives in the form visible light, radio and television waves, and microwaves. Radiation is divided into two categories – ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.

    • Ionizing radiation is radiation with sufficient energy to remove electrons from the orbits of atoms resulting in charged particles, and it is this type of radiation that is evaluated for purposes of radiation protection. Examples of ionizing radiation include gamma rays, electrons, protons, and neutrons. Ionizing radiation is different from ion formation that occurs in ordinary chemical reactions, such as the generation of table salt from sodium and chlorine. In such a reaction, only the outermost electron is removed to form a positively charged ion. With ionizing radiation, if the energy is sufficient, electrons other than those in the outermost orbits can be released; this process renders the atom very unstable, and these ions are very chemically reactive. It is the subsequent reactions of these ionized atoms that initiate the biological effects that are observed.

    • Non-ionizing radiation is radiation without sufficient energy to remove electrons from their orbits. Examples are microwaves, radio waves, and visible light.

    Space radiation consists primarily of ionizing radiation that exists in the form of high-energy, charged particles; principally electrons, protons, and some heavier atomic nuclei – commonly called particulate radiations. There are three naturally occurring sources of space radiation: trapped radiation, galactic cosmic radiation, and solar particle events.

    These particles when moving at high speed (i.e. when of high energy) can pass through matter. The depth of penetration depends on their speed and charge – the higher the charge the smaller the penetration. The energy of these radiations is expressed in a special unit known as the electron-volt (eV) and the multiples 1,000 eV = 1 keV; 1,000 keV = 1 MeV. One electron-volt corresponds to 1.60×10 -19 joules.

    Since matter is made up of positively charged atomic nuclei and negatively charged electrons, it is clear that the electrically charged particles must interact with the atoms in the molecules that surround their path. It is very rare for heavy particles, such as protons or alpha particles, to hit an atomic nucleus or for electrons to collide with the orbital electrons. When such a collision has occurred the particles involved change direction. Except when scattered in this way the subatomic particles move through matter in straight lines. However, even when they do not come into physical contact with atoms they are continually slowed down by the local electric charges of the atoms, rather as air resistance will slow down a bullet. Because of the electrical interactions with the atoms through which they pass they lose energy until they can penetrate no further. At the very end of their tracks the path of the particles is no longer linear, since scattering occurs more readily when they move relatively slowly. The energy that the ionizing particles lose is taken up by the surrounding atoms, and some of the molecules of which they are part become chemically changed. When a person is exposed to the radiation, it is this radiochemical process that is responsible for the biological effects produced. Only a part of the energy lost in this way is used for producing such chemical changes. Much of the energy is dissipated as heat, though this does not bring about any of the observed biological changes, since a radiation dose sufficient to kill a mammal would raise its temperature by less than 1/100 of a degree.

    Particulate radiations rarely exceed a few MeV, and therefore cannot penetrate very deeply into the body. Exposure to such radiations is therefore only likely to produce skin burns that are usually not serious except when the doses are very high. X-rays, gamma rays, and neutrons are much more penetrating. On exposure to these radiations the affected parts are not confined to the skin, but every part of the body will be irradiated. Under these conditions much smaller doses of radiation are dangerous.

    The dose is the amount of energy that has been left in the irradiated material and is directly related to the amount of chemical alteration produced. It is typically given in units of rads or “radiation absorbed dose” for a particular material, defined as 1 rad = 0.01 J/kg. The SI unit of absorbed dose is the gray (Gy), where 1 Gy = 100 rad.

    Different types of radiation have different biological effectiveness mainly because they transfer their energy to the tissue in different ways. The equivalent dose is calculated by multiplying the absorbed dose by a radiation weighting factor (W R ) appropriate to the type and energy of radiation. The unit of equivalent dose is the rem, derived from the phrase “Roentgen equivalent man”. The rem is now defined as the dosage in rads that will cause the same amount of biological injury as one rad of x-rays or gamma rays. For x-rays, gamma rays, and electrons, W R = 1, and for protons W R = 2. The SI unit of equivalent dose is the sievert (Sv), where 1 Sv = 100 rem.

    In addition to the energy and composition of a particular particle, it is also necessary to describe how many of them there are. This is usually done in terms of flux, and when speaking in terms of a time interval, fluence. Flux is defined as the flow rate of particles per unit area, which has the dimensions [particles]×[time] -1 ×[area] -2 . Fluence is the flux integrated over time, which is defined as the total number of particles that intersect a unit area in a specific time interval of interest, and has the units [particles]×[area] -2 .

    AE-8/AP-8 Radiation Belt Models

    The Van Allen radiation belts are a torus (doughnut shape) of energetic charged particles circling Earth around its magnetic equator and held in place by Earth’s magnetic field. The main belts extend from an altitude of about 1,000 to 60,000 kilometers above the surface in which region radiation levels vary. Most of the particles that form the belts are thought to come from solar wind and other particles by cosmic rays. The belts are located in the inner region of the Earth’s magnetosphere. The belts contain energetic electrons that form the outer belt and a combination of protons and electrons that form the inner belt.

  44. I am one of those skeptics that don’t believe we went to the moon. Furthermore, I don’t believe any man has been in orbit around the earth (1 complete orbit or more) and come back alive to tell about it. Therefore while we may have satellites up there, they can’t be brought back at all….they will all burn up just as meteorites burn up except there may be some charred pieces that do make it to the ground…but they will be burned to a crisp. Do some research even the SR-71 blackbird and X-15 had extreme heating problems and they did not reach speeds of Mach 25- Mach 30. There is just too much heating on re-entry from space.
    The fakery continues. If there is an ISS up there in orbit….it’s nothing but an empty tin can. You can’t bring the people back from space. They just fake it in an underwater pool and add in some CGI and when they have to they use Zero-G planes and possibly some other images taken from un-manned Low Earth Orbiting Satellites.

    The problem is… is so enamored with his abilities, he had to have this dream of space travel to go hand in hand with his belief in evolution and a big bang. It’s nothing more than man pretending to be God and rejecting the true God that created us. He couldn’t do the space travel thing, so he faked it all. Nothing will ever come of Elon Musk Space X or any other private venture……that will have to be faked as well….It’s a sad waste of money.

  45. Waverly, you are in denial of evolution. It is unreal how many self proclaimed experts come on here and deny a fact like the moonlanding. I believe these people are smart, but just lack the correct information. Most are misinformed from reading conspiracy websites filled with lies, and bad science. Let’s face it people love a good conspiracy. So the iss has no humans? Where is your proof? Just because you believe something is impossible doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Some will say we are sheep who believe everything the government tells us. Wrong! You believe lies from conspiracy sites without question, but think facts are lies and fakery. So all six moonlandings were faked? We never got caught? Lots of hush hush money Hugh? Why fake it when you will get caught sooner or later. The whole thing is so silly. Theorists just refuse all facts and evidence. Once you get better educated, you will learn how space travel works, and realize the hoax is all nonsense.

  46. People forget the transmissions were tracked, the Russians would have known if the transmissions weren’t coming from the moon. Hoaxers just don’t bother to think things out. The moonlandings happened hoaxers! You think people wouldn’t eventually figure out things were faked? People are smart. People deny things in which they don’t understand or know little about. Take a look at the moonbuggy. When the dirt it kicks up goes up, it falls right down with no dust, that’s because they are in a vacum. No air. Unfortunately the hoax websites forgot to mention that.

  47. The whole hoax theory is way off. There is tons of evidence out the as proof we landed on the moon. Every single theory has been explained over and over again. These theories have flaws, that’s where hoaxers miss the mark. They just don’t realize what humans are capable of. They eally need to be better educated. It’s very easy to deny something when you don’t how how things work.

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