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The Apollo 11 Hoax: Conspiracy Theories

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A great man once said ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. People know this man as Neil Armstrong. Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, and Michael Collins were among the Apollo 11 mission. The Apollo 11 mission had the intent of landing on the moon and returning to Earth. This was a national goal of the United States at the time. President John F. Kennedy set this goal at the time partly because of the Space Race rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union at the time. Kennedy wanted to beat out their Cold War rival by putting a man on the moon before the Soviet Union.

On July 10, 1969, around “650 million people” were watching the television to see if the Apollo crew could do it, and really land on the moon. All of these people were anxiously watching until Armstrong famously said “The Eagle has landed’. At this time, millions of Americans realized that we have successfully put a man on the moon. However, there is a minority of people who believe the whole moon landing was faked. In this paper, I will discuss the pseudo-scientific narrative of the Apollo 11 moon landing hoax. As well, I will be discussing the origins and appeal to the hoax and debunk them. Some of the views supporting the hoax use economic, political, and scientific concepts to attempt and justify the hoax. These concepts will be explained and shown how they are non-sense.

The small minority in the population of the United States that believe the moon landing was faked, has a multitude of reasons why they believe so. These reasons range from political to economic to especially scientific. In this paragraph, I will discuss the origin of how people started to believe the moon landing was fake, as well as the political reasons. A man name Bill Kaysing was a writer for one of the companies that produced rockets for NASA and the missions to space. Kaysing said he had the inside look at how the government was faking the moon landings. He even wrote a book with the evidence he had, proving the moon landing was a hoax. His book was called We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle. Kaysing and fellow moon landing hoax conspirators believed that at the time, that “NASA couldn’t manage to safely land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s”. This was important because at the time President Kennedy set a national goal of getting a man on the moon safely and back to Earth by the end of the century. This goal was spurred by the Space Race rivalry that I had previously discussed. President Kennedy wanted to conquer the Space Race and defeat the United States’ Cold War rival, the Soviet Union. If what Kaysing said was true, in that he believed that NASA could not get a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s, then it is plausible that the United States could have potentially faked the landing, to get ahead of the Soviet Union.

While the US could have deceived the world and simulated the moon landing, the Apollo space program had some of the most advanced technology at the time and an enormous amount of resources. During the Apollo 11 space mission, NASA had an enormous of help, more specifically “400,000… astronauts to mission controllers, contractors to engineers, scientists, nurses, doctors, and mathematicians”. With all this help, NASA had the capacity to make the mission a success. NASA did not have many limiting factors, except time. Financially, NASA had a large commitment from the US government. Kennedy wanted the mission to be a success and the government ended up budgeting about “$25 billion, equivalent to $175 billion” today, towards the space program. With the amount of resources available to NASA and the amount of weight lying on NASA to get a man to the moon, it is more plausible that the government and NASA actually sent a man to the moon, rather than faking it and making the whole world believe it was real.

The reasoning conspirators have, goes past the political origins. The origin of the moon landing hoax is important to understand. As it lays a foundation for the rest of the reasons, people are convinced that we never put a man on the moon. In this paragraph, I will discuss the economic and logistical reasoning behind the moon landing hoax. Fabricating the moon landing would have been much cheaper and easier to do, especially with the resources that NASA had at their reach, rather than actually sending men to the moon. Faking the moon landing and doing it correctly without anyone finding out it was falsified, would have had the same impact and still ended the Space Race.

The problem with the fabricated moon landing theory is how does NASA and the government keep everyone who worked on the project quiet about the bluffed moon landing. The Apollo project at that time had around an estimated 400,000 engineers, scientists, and technicians, as mentioned earlier, working on the project. So, it would be logistically almost impossible to keep that many people quiet. For example, the average amount of people needed for a movie set is around “588” for the “top 1,000 films between 1994 and 2013”. In the film industry, movies being leaked are a common occurrence. Now if we compare 400,000 workers to 588 workers, it does not make sense that everyone part of the faked moon landing kept to themselves, and never came out with the information.

Some conspiracists could provide a counterargument or an explanation for this. NASA could have realized as they were working on the project that they would not be ready in time and cut people from the project to work on the fake landing. Removing people from the project would lessen the chances of the secret getting out. The problem with this argument is that those workers cut from the Apollo program would have been suspicious about how and why so many people were cut off, but NASA proceeded anyway to “launch” the rocket. These employees cut from the Apollo program most likely would have spoken up and told the media about the unusual occurrence. When we bring economics into the equation, it is easy to see why these conspiracy theorists think the moon landing was faked. However, when we think about the logistics behind covering up the fake moon landing, we can clearly see that a successful cover-up is very unlikely to be the case. In the next paragraph, I will be discussing how this pseudoscience narrative of the moon landing hoax used scientific concepts to attempt and uncover the fraudulent Apollo 11 mission.

Conspiracists of the moon landing hoax, believe they have many scientific reasons why the Eagle never really landed, and how it was a simulation. One of the most common theories is that, while the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission were on the moon, there were no stars visible in the background of the pictures taken. The people who support this theory say “the moon has no atmosphere, shouldn’t there be millions of stars dotting the background of these photos”. Conspiracists believe while NASA was “filming” the moon landing on a stage on Earth, they could not accurately represent the stars in a believable manner, so they left them out. On the other hand, the conspiracists believe if the moon landing was real, the stars would have been present in the background.

The problem with the theory of the missing stars in the pictures is that the cameras of the astronauts were not set up for capturing pictures of stars. The technology in film, back in the late 1960s was not advanced as we have today. The “fast exposures (in the cameras) simply did not allow enough starlight into the camera to record an image on the film”. The astronauts reported seeing thousands of stars but they did not care about capturing data about stars from the moon, they cared about the collected data from the moon. If the exposure settings in the cameras were changed, the photos of stars would have been captured. The conspiracists who believe stars not being photographed is evidence towards the moon landing being a hoax obviously did not research light exposure and how cameras only photograph objects within certain ranges of brightness. If conspiracists looked into this science and technology with more depth, they could have realized this theory is not very viable.

There is the belief that radiation would have poisoned the astronauts on their trip to the moon, and the astronauts had come back symptom-free from radiation. Conspiracists believe that when the astronauts passed through the Van Allen Radiation Belt, they should have received deadly amounts of radiation as they were not protected by Earth’s magnetic field. One conspiracy website writes that “NASA only used a small sheet of aluminum to protect the astronauts” and that the radiation from the Van Allen Radiation Belt and the radiation from the moon “would be many hundreds of times more deadly” than the radiation from a regular X-ray. With a regular X-ray, the person administering the x-ray “leaves the room or stands behind a sheet of thick lead”. With this information, we have to ask ourselves the question, why did NASA send up the astronauts with a small sheet of aluminum when that was obviously not going to be enough to protect them? Well, conspiracists answer this with the theory that Apollo 11 spacecraft was never sent to space and the moon landing was staged in a warehouse on Earth.

NASA on the other hand has a completely different view on radiation. NASA knew that radiation was going to be a problem, but after extensive research, they realized the danger of the radiation was overexaggerated. According to one source, the astronauts would be exposed to the radiation for a total of “one hour” and the astronauts would be exposed to about “2 rem” in that total time. In comparison, the astronauts would have felt sick at around “100-200 rem, and death would have occurred with a dose of 300+ rem”. With this information, we have to rethink the conspiracist’s theory about NASA’s plan for radiation shielding. NASA with this data knew they would not need any radiation shielding as it would have posed no additional benefit to the astronauts and would have weighed the spacecraft down. So, the radiation theory, by conspiracists is not valid when backed up with further scientific research. Again, we come to the conclusion that the conspiracists were not well prepared with research on radiation in space and the impact of radiation when they shared their reasons on why the moon landing was fake. Conspiracists’ consistent lack of research into their theories, makes me believe they are very gullible compared to others in society, and they believe the rest of society is just as naïve as them.

Conspiracists of the moon landing hoax have multiple reasons they believe to show others the moon landing was fake. Another example of conspiracy theorists’ naivety to jump to a conclusion is their belief that footprints cannot form on the moon because moisture in the air is required to form footprints. “Yet the the Moon is a totally dry world”. On Earth, footprints and any impacts on the ground are formed with the help of oxygen, and this “process is called oxidation or weathering”. Conspiracists believe, that since the moon does not contain significant amounts of oxygen, footprints cannot form.

The conspiracists, however, were too quick to make a valid hypothesis again. With more research into the composition of the moon’s surface, they would have seen that footprints are possible to make. While the conspiracists were correct in the aspect of needing oxygen to help form imprints, they were uninformed with the different processes that could form imprints. On the moon, the surface is partly made up of “silica”, and “Silica has a natural tendency to bond with other silica… When an object, disturbs lunar dust new molecular bonds are created”. To simplify this quote, on the moon’s surface, when a foot or any object impacts the ground, the bonds in the dust solidify and whatever objects impacted the ground, the dust particles have taken that shape. This process happens whether or not moisture or oxygen is present in the atmosphere. So, the conspiracists were partially correct but did not research all the explanations, and this is where they fell short. The common theme for the people who believe in the moon landing hoax is a lack of knowledge and a sense of naivety. I believe these same people believe the rest of society is just as exploitable as them because these conspiracists try to convince others that what they are saying is true.

Conspiracy theorists’ views on science and society differ in many ways than the rest of society (non-conspiracists). These people who believe in theories of deceit, like the Apollo 11 hoax, to my knowledge, believe the rest of society puts too much trust in larger organizations, like NASA and the government. These conspiracy theorists believe the rest of society should be more guarded and less trustful. I believe conspiracy theorists’ lack of trust in others, and beliefs that people cannot be trusted, allow these theorists to project themselves as competent and high-minded to themselves and the groups to they belong to. These conspiracy theorists have a sense of egotism that reaches not just themselves, but the groups to which they belong. These groups of conspiracists believe they understand how everything works, and what is truth and what is a lie. These groups then try to share their knowledge with the rest of society and either falter or gain other members, the former being the most common outcome.

The groups of conspiracy theorists falter more often than not. This is because of science. Conspiracy theorists falter, because of their lack of understanding of scientific reasoning. The origins of the motivation for the Apollo 11 hoax, seem convincing until supplemental thinking occurs, and we as consumers then realize that these theories are not highly plausible. As we saw with the sheer number of people working for NASA and the logistics behind keeping them quiet. The common theme with the scientific evidence, the theorists came up with, was that it was partially correct but the full picture was not provided. When other scientists fill in the gaps, we see that the theories have no validity. We saw this with the lack of stars theory, the deadly radiation theory, and the inability of astronauts to form footprints theory. In all of these speculations, the conspiracists were partially correct, but when all the scientific laws are brought into the equation, we see that the speculations are inaccurate.

Works Cited Page

  1. Braeunig, R. (2001, March 1). The Moon Hoax Debate. Retrieved March 8, 2020, from https://www.scss.tcd.ie/Stephen.Farrell/ipn/background/Braeunig/hoax.htm
  2. Cosnette, D. (2006, September 12). The Faked Apollo Landings. Retrieved March 8, 2020, from https://casa.colorado.edu/~dduncan/pseudoscience/The%20Apollo%20Hoax.pdf
  3. Follows, S. (2014, February 24). How many people work on a Hollywood film? | Stephen Follows. Retrieved March 3, 2020, from https://stephenfollows.com/how-many-people-work-on-a-hollywood-film/
  4. Fuller, J. (2020, January 27). Why Do Some People Believe the Moon Landings Were a Hoax? Retrieved March 8, 2020, from https://science.howstuffworks.com/moon-landing-hoax1.htm
  5. Hollingham, R. (2019a, June 19). Apollo in 50 numbers: The workers. Retrieved March 7, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190617-apollo-in-50-numbers-the-workers
  6. Hollingham, R. (2019b, July 12). Apollo in 50 numbers: The cost. Retrieved March 7, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190712-apollo-in-50-numbers-the-cost
  7. Knight, P. (2019, July 10). How moon landing conspiracy theories began and why they persist today. Retrieved March 3, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/how-moon-landing-conspiracy-theories-began-and-why-they-persist-today-118643
  8. Loff, S. (2015, April 17). Apollo 11 Mission Overview. Retrieved March 8, 2020, from https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/apollo11.html

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The Apollo 11 Hoax: Conspiracy Theories. (2022, July 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-apollo-11-hoax-conspiracy-theories/
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