Monday, August 02, 2010
Why Moon Landings Were Not Faked
I found this brief video clip through a Universe Today post from last week, but I just love it, so I have to post it here too. It's one of the few "space related" things that I find myself sharing widely with "civilians" (i.e., friends and relatives who care nothing about space, also called "normal people"). And it's just so funny, I've watched it five or six times myself.
Admittedly this video is more about humor than space, but it does address something that has always puzzled me about moon landing conspiracy "theorists." Between 1962 and 1972, NASA's budget totaled about $260 billion (in 2007 dollars). Much of that was spent on the Apollo program, ostensibly to send astronauts into Earth orbit (11 times, since all the moon missions first orbited the Earth) and later to the moon (nine times with six successful landings - the others were the two planned orbital missions and Apollo 13 which flew once around the moon and back to Earth). According to Moon hoax fans, if this money was spent at all, it was spent on faking the moon landings through an elaborate conspiracy involving thousands of government and contractor employees. These people supposedly built a lot of real-looking but non-functional hardware (plenty of civilians saw the hardware) and applied amazingly advanced special effects technology to produce thousands of photographs as well as many hours of film footage, video, and audio recordings (including radio transmissions that seemed to come from the moon - though of course NASA also controlled the tracking antennas, so who knows?). They also produced a lot of scientific data and a few hundred kilograms of "moon rocks" (which could have come from Hawaii or someplace, right?).
That's all well and good, the joke's on us and all, but what about the Saturn V rockets? Thousands of people witnessed the launch of thirteen gigantic rockets in Florida from 1967 to 1973. Flames came out, loud noises, something went into the sky. Where did they go (some did go only into Earth orbit for tests and to launch the Skylab space station in 1973)? Well maybe the conspiracy people will allow that NASA can put things into Earth orbit. Are they still up there? Did they burn up and reenter the Earth's atmosphere? Wouldn't someone have noticed this? Or did they go to the moon, but without astronauts? Was NASA good enough to do that, but not to land and return the astronauts?
It's all so ridiculous, of course, and if you are in the conspiracy frame of mind, you can always come up with additional things that could have been faked to conceal the other fakes. But why thirteen Saturn V's? And why six "faked" landings (plus Apollo 13 which was aborted)? Why not just launch two or three Saturn V's (to prove you're testing them, of course) and then one successful faked landing? Then declare "mission accomplished, JFK honored, Soviets beaten" and spend the rest of the money on planes and bombs for Vietnam?
Recently the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has sent back pictures of the Apollo landing sites. But who controls LRO? NASA of course. No doubt the conspiracy continues to this day. And there is no way to convince the conspiracy faithful, of course. But we can have a good laugh about it once in a while, as with the video that triggered this whole rant!