One of the Internet’s favorites seems to be the moon landing conspiracy. According to the conspiracy, the US didn’t land on the moon in 1969 or 1970, it was all a big hoax. The “moon landing” happened in a warehouse in Florida (or Nevada, or California, or …) and was filmed by TV or movie crews and broadcast to the mindless masses.
This conspiracy theory is popular enough that the TV series Mythbusters did an episode about it. Jamie and Adam went through several of the common points that conspiracy theorists say “prove” the whole thing was a hoax. Their conclusion: The conspiracy theorists’ points are at best inconclusive and at worst just plain wrong, so the two Mythbusters believe man did land on the moon.
Some of the conspiracy theorists’ points are interesting. But the big question is the real issue.
Did man land on the moon? More specifically, did Apollo 11 land on the moon, and return Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins safely back to Earth?
I say Yes.
I was enthralled by the space program in the late 1960s. It seemed everyone was interested in it where I grew up. We watched every launch possible, read all the articles in the newspapers, had classes on it – even in grade school! Everyone knew the difference between Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. The astronauts were heroes, brave adventurers paving the way to a bright future. And when the Apollo 11 capsule was mounted in a trailer and sent around to each state capital the next year, my mom and I were close to the front of the line the morning it came to Montpelier Vermont. I can still remember asking the man standing guard if I could touch it, and the thrill when he said Yes.
Yes indeed, there was a space race. The Russians had started it with the Sputnik satellite. Then they had the first man in space and the first man to orbit the Earth, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Nowadays there is an unacknowledged urban legend that another cosmonaut was actually first in space and first to orbit the Earth, but died during re-entry. If this is true, hopefully the Russians will one day acknowledge this and publish supporting evidence, so that person can take their rightful place in history.
The first time the US jumped ahead in the space race was arguably Apollo 8. Three US astronauts traveled to the moon and back but did not land. I remember thinking that was kind of silly at the time, but 8 year olds are not always the best judges of complex mission plans.
Apollo 10 came and went, seemingly just to build drama.
Then came Apollo 11, starting the controversy.
I believe I can prove Apollo 11 did land on the moon. The proof lies not in angles of shadows nor in the apparent absence of stars in the lunar sky.
The proof is in the Russians. They didn’t protest. In fact, they congratulated the US on the achievement.
Think about it. The US and Russia were locked in an ideological battle, and the space program was one of the battlefields. Each side was quick to downplay achievements by the other, and pump the hype about their side using all the media and psychological tactics they had.
At the time, the Russians could tell their satellites, and those from the US, were in orbit around the moon with their more-advanced radar.
They could doubtless track the Apollo craft on its way to the moon. And probably listen in on the transmissions from the moon. And probably track the Apollo command and service modules on their way back to Earth.
And at the end of the Apollo 11 mission, the Russians basically stopped their lunar landing program.
Would they have done that if they had any proof the US hadn’t landed men on the moon?
That’s all the proof I need.