20 July, 1969 was the day when Neil Armstrong, aboard Apollo 11, made history by planting his foot on the Moon. Apollo 11 aside, NASA also successfully launched several other spacecrafts to the Moon between the late 1960s and 1972, as part of the Apollo programme.
But, can we be absolutely sure about all this?
Thanks to the numerous conspiracy theories that have emerged about these missions, we now can’t help but be a little doubtful ourselves. Here are 6 of the most talked about conspiracy theories that claimed the ‘giant leaps for mankind’ to be nothing but a hoax.
#1- The Curious Case of the Fluttering Flag
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This is the most famous conspiracy theory for all time. To the layman, it is the most noticeable aspect from the pictures taken on the Moon. The flag appears to flutter in the wind, like it would have on earth. But, the photograph was taken on the Moon, where there is no atmosphere or wind to create the flutter! So, what was going on?
Insiders to the Moon landing reveal that the flag was not fluttering, but in fact, had to be stretched using metal wires inserted into its fabric. This was done so that the flag would not hang, but would be seen completely. The flag was also positioned in such a way that it appeared to naturally flutter.
#2- The Shadows
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In certain pictures from the Moon, one can notice that the shadows of astronauts and other objects such as the spacecraft and equipment, fall at multiple angles. This inconsistency led to certain deep-set conspiracy theories. They suspect that this may have happened because man never went to the Moon, and instead, chose to stage the entire spectacle on a secret film set. According to them, this explained the multiple sources of light that created uneven shadows.
Theorists have even gone as far as naming the filmmaker who may have helped NASA in this venture— Stanley Kubrick. This was because his 1968 sci-fi flick, 2001: A Space Odyssey, showed that it wasn’t rocket science to create a set that resembled space. Theorists also noted that astronauts could have been suspended from the ceiling using wires, and footage of them bouncing towards the camera could have been played on slow motion, to create the effect of weightlessness on earth’s satellite. As per an experiment conducted by Mythbusters, an acclaimed TV series, this effect was easily replicable on earth.
Why would the USA even do this? Conspiracy theorists claim that the period when the Moon landings occurred was also the peak of the Cold War, which saw USA and Russia at the forefront. Hence, USA may have tried to prove its technological superiority over Russia by doing so.
On the other hand, those backing Apollo’s missions argue that the uneven surface of the Moon, due to its craters, caused the shadows to appear in random directions.
#3- The Missing Crater Paradox
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Where were the craters?
It is a known fact that the Moon’s surface is extremely dusty. It is also a known fact that lunar modules are extremely heavy. With this knowledge, it came as a surprise that the footage of certain lunar modules landing on the Moon, did not show them creating a ‘crater’, due to their weight.
Some have tried to disprove this theory with science, saying that the layer of dust on the lunar surface could have been blown off when the modules landed. This may have left just the hard, rocky layer beneath, exposed. Hence, there were no chances of any artificially-created craters, they say.
#4- The Death-by-Radiation Debate
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The suspicion and the resultant speculations about the Moon landings began not recently, but as early as when the news of the first landing broke out. An infamous name associated with the birth of these theories is Bill Kaysing.
Kaysing was a technical writer at Rocketdyne, the company which made rocket engines for the Apollo Programme. He published a book in the 1970s, titled ‘We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle’. In this book, he ‘reveals’ how NASA, in 1969, lacked the technological prowess to fly humans to the Moon and back. Some added that the USA could never have afforded the kind of money that was needed to complete the mission successfully. This set the rumour mills going even faster. Kaysing also claimed that the astronauts could have never crossed the high-radiation ‘Van Allen Belt’ that surrounds the earth, without getting killed.
Experts disproving this conspiracy theory say that the Van Allen Belt merely collects the radiation from the Sun, to protect the Earth from them. Hence, the radiation apparently is not much stronger than that from an X-ray. Considering that the Apollo spacecraft carried the astronauts through the belt in less than four hours, they weren’t exposed to the radiation long enough for it to be dangerous.
#5- The Big Rover Factor
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The theory in question argues that ‘Buggy’, the massive rover, could have never fit into the cramped, ‘tiny’ lunar module.
What they did not know, was that it could be folded to an impressively compact form, and carried in the module. What’s more was that it was also light weight and built to be carried into space.
#6- The Mystery of the Footsteps
(Image source: https://go.nasa.gov/2K14s0u)
Certain conspiracy theorists argue that it would be impossible to see footprints on the Moon, as the formation of a footprint on soil requires moisture.
But, what the theory did not consider, was that impressions can be created even if a palm or foot is placed on a dry powdery substance.
So, Knowledge Tribals, that’s all on this list! Heard of any other crazy conspiracy theories about the Moon landings? Comment below and let us know!