Saturday, August 20, 2005
The Six Faked Moon Landings?
"Columbia, he has landed at Tranquility Base. Eagle is at Tranquility. I read you five by. Over." The voice from Houston betrayed no emotion, although this was anything but business as usual. A human being was about to set foot on the moon for the first time in history, armed only with the Stars and Stripes, some scientific instruments, and an almost reckless, can-do demeanor that had captivated the world.
The reply from Columbia, the command-and-service module that had released the lunar lander 2 hours and 33 minutes earlier, betrayed only equal professional cool. "Yes, I heard the whole thing," Michael Collins said matter-of-factly.
Houston: "Well, it's a good show."
That's when Neil Armstrong chimed in. "Yeah, I'll second that," said the 38-year-old astronaut, the moonwalker-to-be, America's own Boy Scout, and the most famous man in the - well, in the universe. And even though the static ate away at the clarity of his consonants, Armstrong's sneering tone came through loud and clear. The mission control man heard it too. And he knew what was coming. Sort of.
"A fantastic show," Armstrong said. "The greatest show on earth, huh, guys?"
There was a moment's silence. Then a cameraman sniggered. And the director sighed, and did what directors do when actors screw up their lines. "Cut," he groaned. He was a heavyset man in his 50s, and the combination of the long hours and the hot studio lights had started to get to him.
"Shit, Armstrong, if you're gonna be a smart-ass, do it on your own time, all right? We got 25 tired people on this set. We got a billion people who are going to be watching your every move only a week from now. We're on deadline here. Now, do you suppose you could just stick to the script and get it over with? Thank you."
His assistant stepped forward with the slate. "Apollo moon landing, scene 769/A22, take three," she announced.
"Columbia, he has landed at Tranquility Base," the mission control man began again.
When Buzz Armstrong stepped down from that ladder, saying it was only a small step for him but a giant leap for mankind, was he was merely setting foot on a dust-covered sound stage in a top-secret TV studio in the Nevada desert? Yes, some people say we faked all six moon landings. I had dinner with one of them tonight. A smart guy I really like. Yeah, some people really do believe this. In fact, a poll taken in the early 70's indicated that around 30% of all Americans believed the whole moon landing was flim-flam.
Bill Kaysing worked as head of technical publications for the Rocketdyne Research Department at their Southern California facility from 1956 to 1963. Rocketdyne was the engine contractor for Apollo. Here's his side of the story.
"NASA couldn't make it to the moon, and they knew it. In the late '50s, when I was at Rocketdyne, they did a feasibility study on astronauts landing on the moon. They found that the chance of success was something like .0017 percent. In other words, it was hopeless."
As late as 1967, Kaysing says, three astronauts died in a horrendous fire on the launch pad. "It's also well documented that NASA was often badly managed and had poor quality control. But as of '69, we could suddenly perform manned flight upon manned flight? With complete success? It's just against all statistical odds."
What About The Absent Stars ? Kaysing points out numerous anomalies in NASA publications, as well as in the TV and still pictures that came from the moon. For example, there are no stars in many of the photographs taken on the lunar surface. With no atmosphere to diffuse their light, wouldn't stars have to be clearly visible? And why is there no crater beneath the lunar lander, despite the jet of its 10,000-pound-thrust hypergolic engine? How do NASA's experts explain pictures of astronauts on the moon in which the astronauts' sides and backs are just as well lit as the fronts of their spacesuits - which is inconsistent with the deep, black shadows the harsh sunlight should be casting? And why is there a line between a sharp foreground and a blurry background in some of the pictures, almost as if special-effects makers had used a so-called "matte painting" to simulate the farther reaches of the moonscape? "It all points to an unprecedented swindle," Kaysing concludes confidently.
But just how could NASA possibly have pulled it off? Easy, says Kaysing. The rockets took off all right, with the astronauts on board, but as soon as they were out of sight, the roaring spacecraft set course for the south polar sea, jettisoned its crew, and crashed. Later, the crew and the command module were put in a military plane and dropped in the Pacific for "recovery" by an aircraft carrier.
There are hundreds of sites on the internet, documenting both sides of the issue. Just do a GIS on "fake moon landing."
NASA Fights Back
NASA even felt the need to rebut Kaysing's version of events:
Q: Why is there no discernible crater beneath the lunar lander?
A: "Although the descent engine of the LM is powerful, most of its operation takes place thousands of feet above the moon during the early stages of the landing," says a NASA information sheet. "At the moment of touchdown, a small amount of surface dust is blown away, but the relatively cohesive lunar surface seems to deflect the blast sideways."
Q: Why is there an artificial-looking line between a sharp foreground and a blurry background in some of the pictures of the lunar surface?
A: "What you see is simply the curvature of the moon," explains Paul Lowman, a NASA geophysicist. "Because the moon is such a small body, the curvature horizon is only two or three miles away from eye level. That sharp line you see in some pictures is the visible horizon. The blurry part you see is caused by mountains sticking up from beyond the
Q: Why are there no stars in many of the photos taken on the moon?
A: "That's one of Kaysing's sillier arguments," says James Oberg, a space-flight operations engineer with the space shuttle program. "Go out at night and take a picture of yourself under a streetlight. Even if there's a star-studded sky, you'll see no stars in your picture because the camera was set to properly expose that big lighted object in the foreground - you - and will not register much weaker light sources."
Q: How about the various lighting anomalies?
A: "On some pictures, astronauts are lit from more than one side because the sunlight is reflected off the lunar surface or off the landing vehicle," says NASA spokesperson James Hartsfield. Paul Lowman adds that some conspiracy believers are unknowingly or deliberately using pictures of astronauts that NASA never claimed were taken on the moon. "There are pictures being passed on and published in their circles that appeared in pre-moon landing issues of Aviation Week - nothing mysterious about them," sighs Lowman. "These are photos taken in a moon-like training facility at the Johnson Space Center where, indeed, there were several sources of light."