May 5, 2014
One Small Step for Truth, One Giant Tumble for Conspiracists On July 20, 1969, one small step for man was taken, and a giant leap for mankind was made and recorded in the history books when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to ever walk on the moon, and return to earth with the first samples from another planetary body.1 Also on this day, the United States had finally won the Space Race against the Soviet Union.2 Since the United States won the pace race, they became less interested in lunar expeditions, and the “handshake in space” finally symbolized the gradual improvements between the United States and Soviet relations.3 However, with every major event in history, there will always be conspiracy theories to go along with it. In relation with the moon landing, many theorists claim, “the U.S. government, desperate to beat the Russians in the space race, faked the lunar landings, with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin acting out their mission on a secret film set, located (depending on the theory) either high in the Hollywood Hills or deep within Area 51.”4 However, we must take into account the test trial of Apollo 1, a module that exploded. Would NASA really purposely kill three experienced astronauts? Also, some of the greatest conspiracy “evidences” include the variation of the length of shadows on the moon, the waving American flag, and the lack of stars in the photos. Although at a first glance they may look like concrete evidence of a conspiracy, they really are none other than dismissible claims. Finally, one must also take into account that the Apollo 11 moon landing was never deemed a hoax by the USSR.
On January 27, 1967, three astronauts were killed on Apollo 1’s launch rehearsal test when a flash fire swept through the command module. The resulting deaths of the fire set back the attempt to get man into space by eighteen months. Many people question “if the moon landing really was a hoax, why did people die in a test run?” Which is more than true, why would NASA purposely go out of their way to kill three experienced, well-trained astronauts if the moon landing was going to be faked anyway? Virgil Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee all had flight experience, and were test pilots; they were going to be the men to go up onto the moon.5 Since the Americans were trying to beat the Soviets in the space race, why would they have possibly wanted to kill their prime pilots for the Apollo 1 mission and risk letting the Soviets get to the moon first? Also, ground workers at the scene tried endlessly to free the trapped astronauts from the burning inferno. NASA claims that “the Apollo's escape system could not have been used. The system required an astronaut to trigger a rocket attached to the top of the Apollo. The rocket would jerk the spacecraft away from its booster.”6 Despite all the effort being made to save the astronauts, there was not anything that could have been done. Furthermore, why would NASA burn a multi-million dollar module that would cost another multi-million dollars to replace?
In addition to Apollo 1 being a reason to prove why the moon landing is not a hoax, there are also the debunked myths of the moon landing, the first one being the different shadow lengths. The claim of this conspiracy theory is that “Since in all the pictures taken on the moon, every object has a different shadow length, therefore the light source had to be coming from artificial light sources.” However, the science behind this proves that this is because the astronauts were taking pictures in a brightly-lit, hilly, area. One scientist says, “Imagine taking a photograph of someone on a rolling, uneven field of snow during a full, low-hanging moon. The contours of the ground would produce shadows of many different lengths.”7 This is exactly what the astronauts were experiencing while being on the moon. Also, the earth’s reflected light, the spacesuits, and the lunar surface