Conspiracy

Moon-Landing Myths

|

Even more annoying than mindless space boosterism is mindless space conspiracy theorism. Commenters in my recent post about Buzz Aldrin mentioned his five-fingered response to a particularly obnoxious moon-landing troofer.

Yesterday, National Geographic offered a more civil and comprehensive (if ultimately less-satisfying) response to the long-legged theory that the moon landing was faked on a Hollywood sound stage. Dragging up eight old canards based on pictures from the Apollo 11 moon walks, National Geographic quickly dispenses with ("busts") them:

You can tell Apollo was faked because…the American flag appears to be flapping as if "in a breeze" in videos and photographs supposedly taken from the airless lunar surface. 

The fact of the matter is…"the video you see where the flag's moving is because the astronaut just placed it there, and the inertia from when they let go kept it moving," said spaceflight historian Roger Launius, of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. 

As comforting as it might be to imagine that all of the Apollo program money is stuffed into a NASA-sized mattress somewhere in Houston, it just ain't so. The moon landing really did happen. It really did cost that much.

Last weekend, Matt Welch interviewed one of the real "myth busters," Adam Savage, at the Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas. Reason.tv has the footage here. Ron Bailey explains why America won't be going back to the moon until it's profitable here.

NEXT: Is Food Aid for Africa Working?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The moon landing was one of the first in a long line of federal government hoaxes and coverups. By cleverly distracting the American people with a space program, the federal government was able to pass the immigration reform of 1965 and open the border to millions of illegal immigrants from the third world.

    Not only did big corporate interests get to graze on the billions of dollars pumped into the fake space program, they got replace hard working americans with cheap Mexican labor. As Americans were glued to their televisions in 1969, Mexicans were breaking into their basements and stealing their savings and livelyhoods.

    Reason of course ignores the incredible cost of the illegal immigration abeted by the fake space program and of course how every American die a little inside each time someone eats a taco.

    Please note that any response to this post will not doubt be filled with personal attacks and hyperbole.

  2. Anyone who would see the flag as they propped it up and accuse it of “flapping in the breeze” or any such thing clearly has no experience with wind, flags, or anything remotely close to the planet earth.

    It looks so horribly unnatural.

  3. Right after they put up that flag, one of the astronauts starts hopping towards the camera. I knew a guy in college who was convinced the man was rushing to block the camera so no one could see the tell-tale flag-flapping.

  4. The idea that the govenrment could keep that many people quiet or that any of our numerous enemies in the world wouldn’t have called us out on a fake just boggles the mind. I think people believe crazy things sometimes because it makes the world more interesting. What I don’t get about the moon fake loons is that the world is more interesting if there was a landing not if it was faked.

  5. “how every American die a little inside each time someone eats a taco”

    That’s not national shame, that’s the beginning of diarrhea.

  6. The idea that the govenrment could keep that many people quiet or that any of our numerous enemies in the world wouldn’t have called us out on a fake just boggles the mind.

    This

    Ron Bailey explains why America won’t be going back to the moon until it’s profitable here.

    ie. never. Because there is nothing on the moon that doesn’t cost more to bring back than what it’s worth.

  7. Considering one of the supposed “troofs” behind the moon landing was to justify the funneling of huge sums of money into the government, it never ceases to amaze me that these conspiracy mongers rarely entertain the fact that the government frequently siphons off sums that large and greater from the public with no more ceremony than that which accompanies the wiping of an asshole.

  8. “the video you see where the flag’s moving is because the astronaut just placed it there, and the inertia from when they let go kept it moving,”

    If this old geezer recalls correctly, the reason given at the time for the flag’s appearance of “moving” in a breeze is that it was a special mechanical flag with a built-in, powered, mechanism that makes it “ripple.”

  9. You’re just another one of the dupes, Flanigen. You and Jesse. Capricorn One was a documentary! I know, I asked the Juice about it when we were sharing a cell in the psych ward.

  10. Nice SpoofTroll there, John.

    Vanity Fair ran a page of mock patriotic bumper stickers a few years back. The best one ran thus: “The Moon’s Ass Belongs to the US. So Don’t Be Landing Your Skanky Rocket on It. Don’t Even Be Looking at the Moon.

    Fuck moon-landing denialists, yo.

  11. thanks X. Just a guess, but I bet I could put that over at 24head.com sans the Taco part and I bet I could get them to agree with me.

  12. Gizmodo has some new photos from the reconnaissance orbiter showing the landing sites from above.

  13. Urkobold has these secret photos as well.

  14. You can tell Apollo was faked because…the American flag appears to be flapping as if “in a breeze” in videos and photographs supposedly taken from the airless lunar surface.

    “the video you see where the flag’s moving is because the astronaut just placed it there, and the inertia from when they let go kept it moving,”

    The answer doesn’t address the complaints that it looks like its flapping in all sorts of photos, not just the video when it is planted.

    The true “fact of the matter” is that the flag was bunched up, creased, lightweight nylon, and there is nothing on the moon short of an iron that would have straightened it out.

    Compare this frame and this frame taken twelve minutes apart on the LEM window 16mm camera.

    The flag looks like it is flapping. But it doesn’t move. Not a whit.

    For an even more obvious evidence, see this animated gif contrasting two photos taken seconds apart.

  15. I always found the moon landing deniers funny too.

    One of the astronauts was on some radio talk show last night talking about the crazy myths applied to Apollo, like one that the Van Allen Belt killed Soviet animals sent into space and it would have killed humans too.

    The Soviets did not have a good reentry system yet, according to the astronaut, that is why the Soviet dogs, etc. died in orbit.

  16. “That’s a myth. A myth!”

    “Yeth?”

  17. In the NRO shot of the Apollo 14 landing site, you can see the tracks left by the astronauts as well as the LM. I feel a Nelson moment coming on.

    Supposedly, much higher resolution photos are to come.

  18. God created Moon Landing Denialists just so the Troofers could have someone lower than themselves to laugh at.

  19. For some reason, this idea that the moon has nothing worthwhile on it always comes up. Yes it does, Helium-3, which, if I had a pure ounce of it, I could charge a billion dollars for and be giving you a bargain.

  20. For the definitive account of the faking of the Soviet space program, see Victor Pelevin’s expos?, Omon Ra. The book also explains that Russia faked its nuclear tests by forcing two million political prisoners to jump up and down at the same time.

  21. What is helium 3?

  22. The fact that this is even a controversial issue says how pathetic our space program is. Were people claiming that Columbus faked his journey to the new world 40 years after his voyage? No, because other people followed his example. It’s high time we got serious about space again. I agree that in the short term it won’t be profitable, but that isn’t the main reason to go. The primary benefit to humanity of the voyages to the new world wasn’t the sugar trade, it was the United States and the new type of government and society we created here. What will people do when they start living on Mars? I have no idea, but I do know it will be extraordinary.

  23. Super-easy fusion fuel.

    Not that it’s easy to come by, even on the moon.

  24. Oh wow dude, you did indeed pick some real doozies!

    RT
    http://www.anonymize.tk

  25. Man, anonymity bot had been on such a good roll, but these last few weeks have been terrible. Even worse than the Polex warehouse.

  26. These fake-moon-landing conspiracy theorists are so dumb. Of *course* they sent a spaceship to the moon – what better place to hide Jimmy Hoffa’s body?

  27. We landed on the moon. Give it a break, deniers. Just because evolution might have some suspicious holes doesn’t prove that creationism is true. Same thing applies here.

  28. I heard Obama was really born on the Moon and is thus not eligible to be President.

    Personally, I’d rather live on the Moon than in Gaza.

    In Soviet Russia, Moon landing fakes you.

    Step 1: Fake Moon landing
    Step 2: ????
    Step 3: Profit!!

    Illegal immigrants from the Moon are stealing our jobs.

    Does that about cover it?

  29. Helium-3 is a natural male and female enhancer.

  30. “Just because evolution might have some suspicious holes doesn’t prove that creationism is true.”

    It is not so much that it has suspicious holes, it is that it has never been replicated in a lab. For example, we have been selectively breeding dogs for 1000s of years. Through selective breeding, you can produce big hairy dogs and little bald dogs and everything in between. But you can’t produce a chicken. That is of course exactly what evolution claims to have occured on a monumental scale. To give just one example, enough small primates selectively bread themselves though natural selection until one day they were humans, a totally different species incapable of even breeding with apes. Not saying it didn’t happen. Just saying it is a pretty hard problem to explain how that happened yet not be able to reproduce it through our own selective breeding.

  31. It is not so much that it has suspicious holes, it is that it has never been replicated in a lab.

    We haven’t replicated the Big Bang in the lab yet. Is that a problem for you?

  32. “Your roommate is a nerd. Yes, on the moon, nerds get their pants pulled down and they are spanked with moon rocks!”

  33. John, at the risk of stating the obvious – selective dog breeding is designed to produce dogs.

    To my knowledge, no one has ever tried to breed dogs into becoming feathery egg-laying flightless birds.

  34. John, you don’t have to replicate a crime to prove that it happened. Analysis of what is left over (i.e. forensics) allows one to deduce things that happened in the past.

    A lot of science is conducted the same way.

  35. “Your roommate is a nerd. Yes, on the moon, nerds get their pants pulled down and they are spanked with moon rocks!”

    Ignignokt: Some would say that the Earth is our moon. Err: We’re the moon. Ignignokt: But that would belittle the name of our moon, which is ‘The Moon.’

  36. Here on the moon, our weekends are so advanced, they encompass the entire week.

  37. John,

    Two things. First, very nice Lonewacko send-up.

    Second, here’s a link on speciation from a site with oodles of fantastic information on evolution. It’s well worth wandering around there.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

  38. “To my knowledge, no one has ever tried to breed dogs into becoming feathery egg-laying flightless birds.”

    They have certainly tried to breed dogs into previously unrecognizable forms. A Mexican Chihuahua is very far removed from any ferrell canine. But, it is still a dog. It’s essence is still dog not chicken. You would think in the 10s of thousands of years of selective breeding, we would have been able to produce an entirely new species of something. If not dogs, then pigs or birds or cows or some other domestic animal. Indeed, we might someday produce new species through genetic engineering but that is cheating. Nature can’t do that except through selective breeding and mutation.

    Dbcooper,

    First e-coli is not a dog or a human. Second, those experiments seem to produce just increasingly weird strains of e-coli, which even I admit is entirely possible.

  39. Thanks les. I will take a look at it.

  40. I love watching that vid of Buzz Aldrin cleaning that jerk’s clock. Buzz Aldrin is an American hero. The guy risked his life, many times over, to advance our national pride and beat the Russkis in the space race. This idiot creep walks up to him and tells him he’s a liar and a coward? Holy crap, you don’t say stuff like that to a pilot like Buzz Aldrin. How old was Aldrin at the time? Probably close to 70? And he does not even hesitate one second – he hauls off and just clean decks the kid right in his mug. I love it.

    And hey – the space program has given us velcro, pressurized ball-point pens, more efficient solar panels and high-output cordless tools. What more could you want?

  41. You would think in the 10s of thousands of years of selective breeding, . . .

    I am not a biologist, but I expect it takes far more that a couple of thousand generations for speciation to occur.

    John, you’re a sharp guy on the legal stuff, but you are always way out to lunch on technical matters.

  42. You may be right Kinnath. I am not a creationist. But I think speciation is a really intersting problem for evolution.

  43. But I think speciation is a really intersting problem for evolution.

    Speciation is evolution. You know that right?

    Take a species, any species, and separate it into two or more populations that cannot under any circumstances interbreed.

    Subject the populations to different environmental conditions over many, many generations.

    Eventually enough genetic difference pile up the different populations can no longer produce fertile offspring so they are now different species.

    Rinse and repeat a few million times and dramatic changes occur.

    This bugs you for some reason?

  44. Not when you take into account that the changes you’re asking for (dog to chicken, two dogs to a cat, pig to bat, etc.) probably take tens of millions of years of very tiny little changes before you get them.

    Given enough time, I don’t understand why you couldn’t have differentiation enough to end up with animals that have spines, or are warm blooded, or can make Star Wars.

  45. “And hey – the space program has given us velcro, pressurized ball-point pens”

    Velcro – see Apollo 1

    Space pen – see pencil

  46. “ut I think speciation is a really intersting problem for evolution.

    Speciation is evolution. You know that right?”

    Strictly speaking yes it is. I do know that. I was thinking more broadly about natural selection versus evolution.

  47. John, if thou lovest thyself, stop while you can.

  48. John, if thou lovest thyself, stop while you can.

    But Warty, he used to listen to Scritti Politti!

  49. Back when we were watching the moon landing live, I remember hearing the announcer talking about how they had to put a wire framework into the flag so that it could unfurl on the airless, windless, moon. And the results certainly seemed to be consistent what that explanation: the moon flag reminded me of an uncrumpled sheet of aluminum foil imprinted with a flag design. When, decades later, I heard of the “flapping flag” criticism, I couldn’t believe that enough of my contemporaries had not heard the same TV announcer at the time, nor that they lacked the moon rocks to shout down this ridiculous charge.

    Some of the other moon-landing troofer points are harder to refute. The most vexing for me is the question about astronaut radiation exposure beyond the Van Allen belt. I can believe that we sent people to the moon and back, but am less convinced that we could have shielded them adequately. So why did so many of them live to ripe old ages? Were they all just that lucky? Or do we fundamentally misunderstand the radiation threat beyond our magnetosphere? The movie 2001 was so realistic that it is quite POSSIBLE for the moon-landing as-we-saw-it to have been faked in a studio, and so I keep an open mind. It doesn’t help that the only known high-definition video of the moon landing — TWO SEPARATE COPIES on two separate continents, apparently — was erased or lost. But for people to fixate on the “flapping flag” silliness is simply pathetic.

  50. Scritti Politti

    Thank you, Crom, for not granting me the will to understand this reference.

  51. The answer doesn’t address the complaints that it looks like its flapping in all sorts of photos, not just the video when it is planted.

    Actually, the lack of an atmosphere on the moon means that there is nothing to damp the flag’s oscillations once it starts moving. The thing could still be “flapping” today as far as we know. Mythbusters busted this particular piece of “evidence” for the moon landing being faked, along with a bunch of other ones last year.

  52. The most vexing for me is the question about astronaut radiation exposure beyond the Van Allen belt. I can believe that we sent people to the moon and back, but am less convinced that we could have shielded them adequately.

    Normal cosmic rays and even solar flares are not a big deal for short term exposure. Only giant solar flares pose an acute risk to health outside the magnetosphere, and those are very rare, happening at most a few times during each 11-year solar maximum.

    The warning time for a giant solar flare is on the order of half a day. Apollo simply took its chances: even half a day’s warning could not have prevented a fatal exposure if a massive giant solar flare happened while in transit.

    See a sci.space.history post by Henry Spencer for more.

  53. OK, I freely admit that my last comment was going a bit too far — a flag planted on the moon is not a perpetual motion machine. But the oscillations could take a long time to die down.

  54. Actually, the lack of an atmosphere on the moon means that there is nothing to damp the flag’s oscillations once it starts moving. The thing could still be “flapping” today as far as we know.

    Here are two things that will damp the flag’s oscillation:

    1. the rod it is hanging on
    2. its own stiffness

    As I noted above, the flag does not move at all. In photo after photo it is stuck in a single, albeit dynamic looking, spot.

  55. Thank you, Crom, for not granting me the will to understand this reference.

    You suck. It’s a Growing Pains/Michael Seaver reference.

  56. I was thinking more broadly about natural selection versus evolution.

    Natural Selection + Favorable Mutation = Evolution

  57. kinnath – while most (all?) astrophysicists will tell you that the origin of the universe issue is settled, I have to say that there are many who don’t agree. See, specifically, plasma scientists and some electrical engineers.

  58. Ten years ago, Robert Zubrin promoted a manned mission to mars claiming it could be done for $10 billion.

    Skeptics replied that it would probably cost $100 billion.

    We just gave $700 billion to bail out the banks. And blew another $700 billion on “stimulus” so some Democratic client constituencies could do some make-work so they could buy some more cheap plastic crap from China.

    You do the math.

  59. # Hazel Meade | July 17, 2009, 6:36pm | #
    # Ten years ago, Robert Zubrin promoted a
    # manned mission to mars claiming it could
    # be done for $10 billion.

    # Skeptics replied that it would probably
    # cost $100 billion.

    Was that if undertaken by NASA or by private industry? Ten years ago, Elon Musk was still working toward the nest-egg he would use to found SpaceX; Rutan and Company wouldn’t even send SpaceShipOne on its first test flight for another four years; Bigelow was just founding his Aerospace company, and his Genesis 1 satellite wouldn’t launch for seven years. A lot has happened in the past decade to make the idea of an affordable, private-sector mission to Mars at least thinkable.

  60. ‘1. the rod it is hanging on

    ‘2. its own stiffness’

    Huh-huh-huh, huh-huh.

  61. No. 2 | July 17, 2009, 5:19pm | #
    “And hey – the space program has given us velcro, pressurized ball-point pens”

    Velcro – see Apollo 1

    Space pen – see pencil

    Don’t be a douche. Itty bits of graphite from a pencil floating in microgravity + lots of electrical circuits that your life depends on + air currents = FAIL

  62. And, Dammit, Butthead says “Huh-huh-huh, huh-huh.” Beavis says “heh-heh heh-heh. yeah.”

  63. kinnath – while most (all?) astrophysicists will tell you that the origin of the universe issue is settled, I have to say that there are many who don’t agree.

    I always like to remind myself that “the aether” was settled physics at one time too. We’re getting smarter (for a bunch of upright apes), but we ain’t hardly got the universe figured out. That’s just another manifestation of our hubris.

  64. both the Penn & Teller Bullshit and Mythbusters shows on the moon landing are excellent. they thoroughly debunked the conspiracy theorist’s claims.

  65. db,

    I refuse to be typecast.

  66. Transcript Richard Reeves chose to leave out of his book on JFK:

    Von Braun: It is good to finally meet you, Mr. President.

    JFK: So, what do you think?

    Von Braun: While I admire your idealism, the idea is preposterous. Utter nonsense.

    JFK: Hey, Robert, pay attention over there. Please, go on . . .

    Von Braun: Man is safe in low orbit, so long as the gravitational field keeps cosmic rays in check, but in the space between the Earth and the Moon, no one can survive even in a lead sealed container. They would be destroyed.

    JFK: Damn it, Ted, I thought I made you quit the Communist Party.

    Ted: I keep this as a souvenir. To remind me.

    JFK: Give it here. I’m cutting it up. Sorry for the interruption, Mr. Von Braun.

    Von Braun: It would please me if you called me, Wernher.

    JFK: How many people are aware of this?

    Von Braun: Most who knew were executed at Nuremberg. It was discovered during some most horrendous experiments.

    JFK: If this ever got out, the hope of humanity would be entirely crushed.

    Von Braun: Nor should we allow that to happen.

    JFK: I’ve pledged that we would go to the moon . . .

    Robert Kennedy: (cough — clears throat)

    JFK: Something you want to add, Bobby?

    Robert Kennedy: We faked votes in Chicago, how hard could it be to fake a moon landing?

  67. Ted: I’ll be sure to let President Nixon know before the phone call.

    JFK: President who?

    Ted: I’ve said too much.

  68. kinnath – while most (all?) astrophysicists will tell you that the origin of the universe issue is settled, I have to say that there are many who don’t agree.

    They are on the right path with the Big Bang but it still represents a massive misinterpretation of what is really occurring. There is one Quasar. Space is bent towards it, so there appears to be a vast number. It shits us out, and then regurgitating us back in.

    And, I know this because of the miracles of pot.

  69. DECEPTINOMENON

  70. Lowdog | July 17, 2009, 6:17pm | #

    kinnath – while most (all?) astrophysicists will tell you that the origin of the universe issue is settled, I have to say that there are many who don’t agree. See, specifically, plasma scientists and some electrical engineers.

    Returning for particle astrophysics conference even as I type:

    The last 10–15 years have been “the era of precision cosmology”. The evidence for the “standard model of cosmology” just keeps getting better every time I look that way. There are, of course, still some significant open issues, but the cosmologist have started talking openly about using their data to test General Relativity.

    That is a sign of either arrogance or really good data.

    Oh, and they have cool toys, too. They are building a 6 band, 3 billion pixel digital camera with a 8 meter aperture. And a 5 second slew and settle time.

    All I have to say is “Damn!”.

  71. nice post..
    ___________________
    Britney
    Entertainment at one stop

  72. Take a clean jar. Go to a spot in the approach path of a airport. Set the open jar down for one, rain free, 24 hour period. Take the jar to a lab to determine what is the jar, from the contrails. Until then SHUT THE FUCK UP!

  73. Take a clean jar. Go to a spot in the approach path of a airport. Set the open jar down for one, rain free, 24 hour period. Take the jar to a lab to determine what is the jar, from the contrails. Until then SHUT THE FUCK UP!

    Everybody knows they don’t release the alien terraformation nanonites until mid flight.

  74. To my knowledge, no one has ever tried to breed dogs into becoming feathery egg-laying flightless birds.

    i did.

    you know, not all species have means to evolve. none can evolve in any arbitrary way- there are constraints. when you have millions of interacting populations, all you can say is that after episodes of environmental change, geographic or other reproductive isolation, and the inevitable ticking of clocks, there will be a different set of species a million years later.

    you can’t just choose one species arbitrarily, apply artificial pressures, not have reproductive isolation, and expect that it’s somehow going to change into another species. nature just doesn’t work that way. one can’t, a priori, look at a population and say, ‘that one’s gonna change, that one’s gonna go extinct, here’s the new species we’re gonna get.” not yet, anyway.

    that doesn’t change the fact that there are an amazing number of fossils of transition species between genera. can’t wave that stuff away. nor can one wave away the astounding dna evidence.

  75. U DONT THINK WE WENT TO THE MOON WHY NOT TELL LOUIS ARMSTRONG TO HIS FACE

  76. Of course the moon landing wasn’t faked on a Hollywood sound stage — it was at a secret studio in the Arizona desert.

  77. HI, it’s John O’Rourke from Sligo, Ireland here. I want to comment on the American flag moving on the moon. The fact that it moved was due to the force of Neil Armstrong pushing it into the ground and twisting it. Someone could argue and say that due to their being no breeze, that the flag should have stopped moving as soon as Neil left it. However, experiments have proven that if this was done in a vacuum, the flag would still move. Are you still not convinced? Well then look at this video on http://www.youtube.com
    ,then type in the following words (without the quotations) “moon myths busted! flag in a vacuum”

  78. Government can’t do anything right, so how did they land on the moon? If Elon Musk using 21st century technology and information can’t get to the moon, how do you think a bunch of bureaucrats in the 60s did?

    The moon landing is a hoax.

  79. hi,
    everybody, take your time and a little bit.fhssd

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.