What’s the story behind the conspiracy of the Moon landing?
The Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida. The place where, on the 20th of July 1969 at 8:17pm, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the crew of the Apollo 11 were launched on the groundbreaking mission to become the first humans to touch the Moon. The mission became a success when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon’s surface 6 hours later at 2:56am on July 21st. This feat of space exploration was broadcast worldwide as people watched in awe, with the famous line “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” ringing in the ears of millions of people. However, did this really happen? What has caused so much speculation behind what is arguably one of the most impressive space exploits of all time? The conspiracy of the moon landing is amongst some of the most well-known conspiracy theories that exist today, alongside the Illuminati and the Bermuda Triangle, to name a few. We are going to explore why this is, where this conspiracy came from, and the evidence behind this compelling theory.
The conspiracy that the moon landing was faked all started with a man named William Kaysing. From 1956 to 1963, Kaysing actually contributed to the US space program by working at Rocketdyne, which is the company that built the engines of the ship that supposedly brought the Apollo 11 crew to the moon, the Saturn V rocket. Using his technical knowledge of space mechanics, Kaysing accused the US of not actually possessing the technological capabilities or the mechanical mastery to travel to the moon. Following his accusations, in 1976 Kaysing, launched (no pun intended) his theory further by publishing a pamphlet titled, We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle which was later turned into a self-published book. Thus, the infamous hoaxed moon landing conspiracy theory was born. His self-published book argued that the footage shot of Neil Armstrong walking on the surface of the moon was filmed at Area 51, and was an effort to brag to the Soviets during the time of the all important ‘space race’. The theory came at the right time, too. America in the 70s was ripe with theories and scandals, such as the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal, so it wasn’t difficult for Americans to believe Kaysing’s moon landing conspiracy. A 1976 poll revealed that 28% of Americans at the time actually believed the moon landing was faked. But, surely to believe in a theory, you’d want to see some credible accusations or some solid evidence to prove the validity of said theory. Well, the best Kaysing could come up with was that in the original moon landing footage, the starts are not visible in the background of the shots. However, this ‘evidence’ was debunked by many who oppose this theory, claiming that the camera’s aperture simply wasn’t wide enough to pick up the light emitted from the distant stars.
However, the conspiracies didn’t end after the publication of William Kaysing’s book. It has been largely thought that the famed film director Stanley Kubrick was behind the filming of the Apollo 11 landing footage, and has been claimed that Kubrick was approached by NASA to fulfil this role after the success of his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Allegedly, Kubrick spent the better part of a year and a half filming the footage for not only the Apollo 11 moon landing, but also the footage for the Apollo 12 mission. While never denied by Kubrick himself, his daughter publicly denied the accusation, calling it a “grotesque lie.”
As wonderful and interesting as this conspiracy may seem, we cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence that the moon landing was in fact real. Probably the most solid evidence available is the pictures taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which has taken pictures of not only the multiple landing sites used across many Apollo missions, but the footprints left behind by the astronauts. These markings are able to be seen even today thanks to the lack of atmosphere and weather on the moon, perfectly preserving the lunar footprints in the vacuum of space. What’s more, a large 382kg of rock samples have been collected across 6 Apollo missions, which have awarded valuable insights into geology. If that’s not enough to convince you, try looking though the 8,000 photographs taken by many astronauts which document the 12 Apollo missions that made it to both space and the moon.
Due to this abundance of evidence, the hoax has lost much of its popularity compared to the 1970s. While nearly 30% of Americans believed the moon landing to be fake in 1976, a smaller 5-6% of Americans today believe the theory to be true today.
So, after all the speculation, William Kaysing’s theory that the moon landing was in fact faked has earned its rightful place in the weird and wonderful world of conspiracy theories. Maybe if NASA was able to fool millions of people worldwide, then the prospect of aliens coming to invade Earth isn’t so far off? I’ll let you decide on that one.