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Why Faking the Moon Landing Footage Was Just Impossible

Moon landing footage

On 16th July 1969, NASA launched the first manned mission to the Moon from Kennedy Space Center. Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to the Moon. The spacecraft landed on the surface on 20th July, and Commander Neil Armstrong became the first human to ever walk on the surface of the Moon. The entire duration of the mission was eight days. After collecting photographs and a lot of valuable lunar data, Neil Armstrong, along with module pilot, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin made their journey back to Earth. Apart from being one of the most remarkable human achievements, Apollo 11 became symbolic and an inspiration for future space travel.

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Image credits: NASA

Although, not everyone was convinced that NASA had actually landed humans on the Moon. In the last 50 years, Apollo Moon landings have become one of, and perhaps the most popular, conspiracy theories of all time. A series of doubts have been presented time and again, and while most of the questions have been repeatedly answered, some people still do not believe that the Moon landings were real. In fact, considering the complexity, it would have been much easier to send people to the Moon than actually faking it.

According to filmmakers, it would have been impossible to fake the Moon landing with the film-making technology present at that time.

Conspiracy theorists have always defined the Moon landing as a studio-filmed project. While that is absolutely untrue, there are several reasons why it couldn’t have been filmed inside a studio. In fact, we did have the technology to go to the Moon but not the technology to fake the footage.  For instance one of the most pivotal claims is that the live footage was shot inside a studio and later slowed down to give the illusion of less gravity. To slow the down footage, you need to record it fast and play it at a normal frame rate by the process called “over cranking.” This could be done using magnetic disk recorders. But those magnetic disk recorders back then could only capture 30 seconds of video which would be a 90-second slow-motion video. Technology simply did not exist to record and store a 47-minute-long video. Also, the reason why the shadows fall in different directions is not because multiple light sources were used. Multiple light sources cause an object to cast more than one shadow, but in all the images we see each object has a single shadow.

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Our moon does not have an atmosphere due to its small size and inability to have a gravitational field. This is also the reason why the sky on the Moon appears black.

Moon landing
Image credits: NASA

There are several reasons as to why the Moon landings could not be faked. No atmosphere on the Moon answers a couple of questions presented by the skeptics.

It is true that our moon does not have wind, but the reason why we see the flag waving is completely different. To put it in simple words, it is because the flag is being unrolled, and the motion causes ripples on the cloth – no breeze required. Also, the reason why we do not see any stars in the pictures is because all Moon landings were during the lunar daytime. The stars were too faint, and the bright sunlight was enough to outshine the light coming from the stars. Also, the cameras were adjusted to focus on the astronauts and the lunar terrain not the faint stars in the background.

Larry Baysinger, an amateur radio operator from Louisville, Kentucky, eavesdropped on the conversations of astronauts on the Moon.

Larry Baysinger
Radio operator Larry Baysinger. Image credits: Courier Journal

Using his homemade instrument, Larry Baysinger was able to detect radio transmissions from Apollo 11 on 20 July 1969. The device, which included an 8×12-foot steerable antenna, was built using a 20-year-old army tank receiver and other spare parts like aluminum and nylon chords. In an interview, Larry mentioned that he recorded a 35-minute conversation between the astronauts and absolutely nothing was edited out by NASA.

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NASA has released an official fact sheet in response to the absurd claims of faked Apollo landings.

Launch of Apollo 11
(Image 1) Launch of Apollo 11. Image credits: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr, Amazon

The root of the fake Moon landing can be traced back to a book titled We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle. The book was self-published in 1976 by a former US Navy officer, Bill Kaysing. He also worked with Rocketdyne, the company that designed the Saturn V rockets engines that were used in Apollo 11.

According to Kaysing, the chances of landing a man on the Moon were 0.0017%. In response to the wave of doubt created by this book, NASA released an official fact sheet in June 1977. As stated in their statement, NASA has operated an “open” program since 1958, and all activities are closely covered by the media. On the day of the Apollo 11 launch, there were over 3,500 news reporters from all over the world at the Kennedy Space Center. In response to the claims from the book, it also talks about the behavior and nature of the lunar surface. In 1980, the Flat Earth Society claimed that the footage of Apollo 11 was shot inside a studio and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Several media articles and documentaries claiming the Moon landings were “fake” have been released time and again. NASA reissued the same fact sheet on 14th February 2001, and it is available online for anyone to go through.

Since Apollo 11, 12 people have stepped on the surface of the Moon, and all of them from the United States of America.

Moon landing space station
James Irwin salutes the United States flag on the Moon on August 1, 1971. Image credits: NASA

The “Moon race” began in 1958 with Pioneer 0 which was a launch failure. The first spacecraft to ever land successfully on the surface of the Moon was Luna 2. It was launched by the USSR on 12 September 1959 and landed on the surface on 13 September. While Russia and the US have been the leaders in the Moon race, there are now a couple of other nations that have joined them. China became the third nation to successfully land a vehicle on the surface of the Moon. Apart from them, India and Japan have also had successful missions to the Moon. The US, China, and India will be launching their lunar missions again this year.

The world around us has always given us reasons to not believe everything we see. This is logical, as sometimes, the truth really lies in places that are not visible. It is easier today to plant a doubt than to make someone believe in something. Then again, the USSR had the same technology and was the first to land on the moon, so why did the USSR not notice anything?

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