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© Copyright 1999, Jim Loy
Did NASA land men on the Moon? Why not? Because, it could have been faked? Because we cannot believe the government? Because some idiot says they didn't do it. Because Lee Harvey Oswald couldn't hit the broad side of a barn? Oops sorry, wrong conspiracy.
OK, it could have been faked. They certainly make movies more realistic than that. Although, they did launch a bunch of humongous rockets. They didn't fake that. Oh, you were not there, and so they could have faked that? What, only people who were in on the scam lived near Cape Canaveral? There were hundreds of thousands of witnesses. [I'm sure that nobody doubts that we launched huge rockets, by the way]
Well, you do not trust the government? I lean that way, myself. They are a bunch of jerks. But they are not always lying. There were a lot of scientists, engineers, and astronauts working on sending men to the Moon. They all kept quiet? Yeah, right. People (even in government) do not keep secrets.
They put stuff on the Moon. Scientists are still bouncing laser beams off mirrors left on the Sea of Tranquility, thanks to the Apollo 11 mission. The physics is right. The rockets were big enough to send three men and all that life support (air, water, food, protection from cosmic rays) to the Moon and back. Radio messages would seem to have come from the Moon. There were witnesses listening in.
Let's pretend that they faked it. Then they spent more money to fake it than it would have cost to actually go to the Moon and back. Why would they bother? I say that it would cost more, because not only did they have to go to the expense to do this (build rockets...), they had to buy everybody's silence.
NASA put men on the Moon. What is the problem with that?
I received this email message:
"Men never went on the Moon! It can fool people 40 years ago or people who understands nothing about physics(like you sir) but it can't fool me!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Does this guy sound like an idiot? For a few paragraphs on rockets and physics, see My Rockets.
Here is email from another reader:
I am writing with regards to your amateurish attempt to discount the growing body of evidence against the "Moon landings".You provide no hard scientific evidence to the contrary, merely a pompous opinion and blind faith in the U.S. government which is known to be one of the most submersive in the world.You explain in your article that it would of been more expensive to have faked the landings, this may indeed be the case, however the U.S. Government at the time was so desperate to win the Moon Race and "strike a blow for democracy" that it would of done anything and at any cost to be seen to have won the race.It is well known that the Russian space programme was years ahead of the rival American one yet we are to believe that NASA leaped ahead of their rival in a matter of months,I don't think so.
I would advise you my learnered friend to take a longer and less nationalistic lok at the "evidence".
I am not saying that the U.S. didn't put men on the Moon I am merely saying that it is possible that they did not.
Someone who cares!
I admit that my essay did not prove that NASA put men on the Moon. I didn't think that I needed to do that. People seem to think that all other authors prove what they say. About my "blind faith in the U.S. Government," and my "nationalistic lok [sic] at the 'evidence,'" this person seems to have not actually read my essay.
He does bring up an interesting point about the Soviet Union being so far ahead of the USA in space exploration. There is ample evidence that the US could have beaten the Soviet Union into orbit, with von Braun's Redstone as a first stage. The US government chose not to because they wanted the Air Force to be first into orbit, not the Army. The Soviet Union was the leader in large rockets (and heavy payloads), at the time, and had impressive well-deserved successes. There was a rumor, at the time, that the Soviet Union had better German scientists. That wasn't true; we had better German scientists. The Soviet Union succeeded on their own. Yuri Gagarin should be a hero to all people, not just to Russians. But the main difference between the small American rockets and the large Soviet rockets was commitment and money. The later Apollo rockets were huge. All that was required there was big commitment and big money.
And I still say the U.S. government cannot keep a secret.
I received email that said that we could prove, once and for all, whether men ever went to the Moon, by pointing the Hubble Space Telescope at the landing sites (where some equipment, such as the bottom stage of each lander, was left by astronauts) and showing the pictures to everyone. I replied that such an experiment could never prove that we had landed on the Moon, because if the Moon landings were faked, then the photographs could be faked. People who believe that we never went to the Moon would never believe evidence from the telescope, unless it showed no signs of landings. Further email chided me for my "lack of scientific curiosity."
The same email said that only a few people had to be in on any hoax. I disagree. The lowliest technician can see where an antenna is pointed (at the Moon, or partway there). Dozens of people would be needed to fake that one little detail. Above, I pointed out that we can still see the mirrors left on the Sea of Tranquility. Rocks brought back were definitely not from Earth, and micro photographs of them have been shown in many magazines. These photographs were taken by the hundreds of scientists studying the rocks, which are apparently very different from Earth rocks. It would take a lot of collusion to fake the rocks and the photos.
Also, see the addendum of A Mistake In 2001, a Space Odyssey? to see how Stanley Kubrick mutilated the details of landing on and flying about the Moon. And 2001 was a movie with great attention to detail (mostly).
I received a flurry of email lately, all mentioning "evidence" that we (the human race) never went to the Moon, and saying how dense I was. None of them mentioned a source for their "information." But it seems to have been a Fox network "documentary" called Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? I'm sorry I didn't see it, I hear it was very poor. See addendum #4, below, for some of this "evidence" with my comments.
Above I mentioned that they brought back Moon rocks, which were obviously not from Earth. This is my favorite evidence that there was no hoax, as there were a lot of people who would have to lie or be hoaxed. NASA lists 355 scientists (in eleven countries including Germany, England, Japan, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and Finland) by name, who studied lunar samples (rocks and soil). These scientists reported their results in many different scientific journals.
Apparently, these people think that the Apollo astronauts stayed in Earth orbit. If so, their space craft would have been seen by thousands (millions?) of people, when they were supposed to be on or near the Moon.
One supposed documentary (from a UFO group) tried to find fault with this famous picture (from NASA). This photo has plenty of visual clues for reconstructing the scene, as we can see both astronauts. Neil Armstrong took the picture of Buzz Aldrin, using the Hasselblad. And you can see Armstrong reflected in Aldrin's helmet. The original is somewhat darker and not as blue. There are better versions of this picture on the Internet.
One of the objections that this video tried to make was that there is a great deal of detail seen where there should be pitch black shadow. I think that I have dealt with that objection adequately in appendix 4 below (item #7); notice that we are looking more or less into the Sun, and that the Sunlit lunar surface is very dark. This picture is a great example, as you can see a huge number of tiny shadows, even in this less detailed version of the photo.
The other objection is that the geometry is impossible. On the right above, I have drawn my version of the geometry. Aldrin is obviously standing in a crater. In better versions of this picture, it becomes obvious that the camera is pointing at Aldrin's right shin, just below his knee. My drawing is based on the assumption that the two visible horizons are true horizons, and that one of them is not a hill. The horizon would be about two miles away. And it would seem that Tranquility Base is in a slight depression. The geometry seems fairly clear to me. My drawing is, of course, not accurately drawn, but it should make sense.
I think that maybe FOX TV has perpetrated a hoax, by claiming that the Moon landings were hoaxed. This page seems to be my most visited single page, judging from the email. Here is a summary of the "evidence" that was sent to me (with a couple items that I have added), along with my comments:
1. NASA had reason to hoax because they would have lost billions in funding, and risked embarrassment for failing.
What kind of embarrassment would they risk by perpetrating a hoax?
2. Few people had to be in on a hoax.
I disagree. Thousands (at least) would have to be in on a hoax: in particular, any geologist (many from foreign countries) who studied Moon rocks and soil, and anyone who saw the space craft still in orbit around the Earth. You didn't need a telescope to see the space craft, when it actually was in orbit.
3. The flags were waving in the breeze. In case you don't know, there is no air on the Moon.
This is the most popular "fact" that people mention. The flags on the various missions look kind of strange, I must admit. And I've watched them dozens of times over the years. They had great trouble sticking the flag poles into the dust, and the astronauts were waving the flags around like a Tasmanian devil with a rag doll (email me if you don't know what that looks like). The dust compressed under the point of the flag pole. If you look closely, the cloth (plastic?) of the flag is swinging like a pendulum under the horizontal bar of the pole, evidence that the movie was made in a vacuum.
4. Impossible photos, very obvious flaws.
I did not see the TV program. But I have looked at hundreds of photos. I have not seen any obvious flaws.
5. There was a big Earth in the window, when they were supposed to be near the Moon.
I actually saw this film clip. I forget which flight it was (not Apollo 11). And the big "Earth" in the window looked a lot like an internal, Sun-lit reflection in the window. It did not look very much like the Earth to me. Apparently you can briefly show people a washed out white blob, and tell them that it is the Earth, and they will believe you.
6. The suits could not handle the temperatures, which were very hot in the Sun, and very cold in the shade.
They were actually prepared for fairly high temperature extremes. But they always landed where the Sun was low in the sky. It apparently takes quite a while for lunar rocks to heat up. So the temperature differences were probably not as great as they could have been. They had an extra covering on the bottom of their boots. They seldom touched things other than their tools (which were reflective) with their hands. They wore reflective clothing with its own heating and cooling. Low and high temperature lunar rocks and soil does not apparently conduct heat very well; so touching them is much like Walking On Hot Coals without being burned.
7. There is no source of light to illuminate the shadows. They claimed that they used no artificial light.
There was a lot of reflected light off hills, and astronauts, and the lander. And I seem to recall that later versions of some photos were relatively overexposed in order to bring out details in the shadows. When a camera is pointed into the shade it was natural to choose an aperture that is appropriate for shooting into the shade, just like you and I do here on Earth. The Moon doesn't reflect very well, but there was a lot of light.
In many Apollo photographs, there is an effect that I had never heard mentioned. When the picture was taken while facing the Sun (roughly), the Moon in the foreground is very dark. This occurs both on the Moon, and in orbit around the Moon. A minute examination of these photos shows many, perhaps millions, of tiny shadows (I've only studied three or four of these photos). The tiniest grain of sand (and probably each speck of dust) is showing its shadowed side. And thus the landscape is very dark. And generally these photos were exposed longer, and show detail in the shadows. Facing the other way (away from the Sun) the landscape is very bright. After doing some further reading, I see that Armstrong did mention this in the mission debriefing, along with a difference in color, and said that he found it very surprising.
8. Shadows were not parallel. Again, they used no artificial light.
There are a number of reasons that shadows may not appear parallel. Of course, parallel lines appear to converge in the distance. But mainly, the landing sites were not very flat. The shapes of the shadows can be used to deduce undulations. Study of the photos reveal a lot of little hills and craters. Almost none of the ground was flat.
9. There are fatal radiation belts around the Earth. The space craft would have to be coated with lead, six feet thick.
There IS radiation up there, mostly in the two Van Allen radiation belts. It has been measured many times by the USA and the Soviet Union. Apparently what has been published about the Van Allen radiation belts shows that they are indeed dangerous, over a long exposure. But the space craft zipped through these at about 20,000 miles per hour, exposing the astronauts for only a few minutes. Damage due to radiation is cumulative. A short exposure to strong radiation is more or less equivalent to a long exposure to weak radiation.
10. The plus marks on the photos are behind some objects.
Those marks were actual lines on glass, nearly touching the film. Nothing was between them and the film. But a very bright object may seem to be in front of them. This happens all the time when you photograph a very bright object (such as the Sun); light "bleeds" into the dark areas on the film.
11. All of the Moon landings were in the same place, with the same features.
I haven't seen any signs of this. The high lands were certainly much different from the earlier sites.
12. According to Russian spy satellite photos, Area 51 looks like the same place as the landings.
Parts of my neighbor's garden look like the Moon too (bad dog, Baskerville). Sorry, sarcasm is my first reaction to all of this. I don't pretend to know much about Area 51. Some people claim to know a lot about it.
13. When sped up, Moon walking looks like they were walking (funny) on Earth.
This sounds like pretty strange evidence, to me.
14. The TV images of Neil were from a camera already in place on the Moon. And then we never see the camera.
Upon exiting the hatch of the lunar module, Armstrong lowered (to the lunar surface) the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) which contained the TV camera. I assume that he turned on the camera, before lowering the MESA. The camera was then in position. They later removed this camera, and used it by hand.
15. Every photo was perfectly centered and in focus.
If you think that, then you haven't seen very many of the photos. Over 80% of them look very dark. Many are tilted somewhat (the astronauts reported that their sense of up and down was not strong in the 1/6 Moon gravity). A few close-up pictures were badly focused. A couple photos were taken accidentally. But a few pictures (the famous ones) were relatively well done. I attribute that to luck, occasional effort to pose a good photo, the wide-angle lens (much easier to get an artistic picture), and the good large-film Hasselblad camera.
16. There was no blast crater under the lander.
There is no obvious crater under the lander. But there are some visible signs of the landing (missing dust, and melting and burning of rocks and sand). It looked to me like some of the dust was blown away from under the lander. Dust on the Moon doesn't act like dust here on Earth. But more importantly, they shut off the lander's engine when this engine was about seven feet (my estimate) from the ground. The astronauts reported that some rocks were cracked (from the heat apparently) under the lander.
17. The photos show no stars.
The photos were all taken at daytime apertures and shutter speeds. Although the stars would appear brighter on the Moon, than they do on Earth, the difference is not really much (far less than twice as bright). Take some photos of stars. You will probably have to hold the camera still and expose the picture for ten seconds or more.
18. There are two pictures of the same scene, one with a lander in it, one without. In others, the lander has moved.
I haven't seen any of this.
19. How come Russia didn't go to the Moon, unless they knew it was impossible. A Russian astronaut even says it is impossible.
It turns out that the Russians did try to go to the Moon with their huge NI-L3 rocket. The first flight, Feb. 21, 1969, lasted 68.7 seconds before the rocket had to be destroyed. The second flight lasted only a few seconds, and the rocket exploded on the launch pad. After Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, the Russians launched two more NI-L3 rockets, none of which was successful. In 1972, they abandoned the project. In 1972, the USA also abandoned its Apollo project.
20. Armstrong crashed the "lander" on the Earth, but nobody ever crashed on the Moon.
He crashed a simulator vehicle, which lost its controls. Apparently practice makes nearly perfect. They did become fairly competent at that sort of thing.
21. The ascent stage of the lander gave off no exhaust.
This TV picture was from one of the later flights. It did give off a flash of light. My recollection is that it was a hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine. There should be no smoke.
22. One of the whistle blowers (and his family) was killed by a train, and his 500 page report has disappeared.
I don't know anything about this.
23. July 20, 1969 had a bad solar storm, which would have killed the astronauts.
My recollection of the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts (1960 as I recall) is that it was surprisingly much stronger than radiation in the rest of space. Solar storms (flares) were a concern. My impression is that the protons and neutrons from such a flare take days (and perhaps weeks) to get to the vicinity of Earth.
24. There is a rock with the letter "C" on it.
The other day, I saw a cloud with an "S" on it. What do you make of that?
25. Most of the insiders have died.
Really? That's not my impression.
26. There are almost no photos of Neil Armstrong on the Moon.
How true. Landscape seems to have been Buzz's style. Apparently, no one told Buzz to take any pictures of Neil. A few people were very disappointed. At the time, I thought that Neil was the only one taking pictures. But that was not true.
27. There are photos of astronauts doing lunar things, in which you can see that they are inside a building.
There are plenty of these photos. Some even show people in short sleeved shirts in the background. The astronauts were practicing their skills beforehand. These photos were even available to the press before the launches.
Would you believe that some people doubt the authenticity of this picture of Neil Armstrong? This picture is from Broderbund's ClickArt.
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