Growing up as a child in the 60s and early 70s, the Apollo missions to the moon captured my imagination – and that of millions of kids. Watching the rockets heave out of their launch pads then ditch their component parts leaving the module to soar through space was thrilling. It was a triumph of the human spirit and modern technology.
While the Americans were sending astronauts into orbit, the Soviet Union was launching its cosmonauts. Two years ago, I visited an exhibition at London’s Science Museum on the Soviet space missions and marvelled at how these incredibly brave cosmonauts returned to Earth in a small metal ball with less technology than you have in your iPhone.
On occasions, they were killed on impact. In one grim instance, the cosmonaut’s final scream could be heard as he knew this was his end. In 1967, all the Apollo 1 astronauts were incinerated on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy during a training exercise. Space travel came at a high human cost.
But…what if this was all faked?
Well, that’s been a persistent conspiracy theory since the space missions. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, our childhood heroes, never set foot on the moon. The whole thing was done on a Hollywood studio set. Or maybe at the infamous Area 51. Some conspiracy theorists have even suggested that the late movie director Stanley Kubrick was involved because….he directed 2001: A Space Odyssey. That proves it!
There’s an array of bizarre arguments put forward. A hardy perennial is that the US flag is seen to be fluttering on the moon – inconsistent with the moon having no atmosphere. Answer: There’s a wire running along the top of the flag so it sticks out and the flapping is the what the astronauts were doing as they tried to get the flagpole stuck in the ground.
Why are there no stars in the sky behind the astronauts? Answer: The light bouncing off the surface of the moon blanks them out. You’d have to be on the dark side to see the stars.
But why would NASA and the US administration have gone to such curious lengths to stage a moon landing? The conspiracy guys believe they have the answer. It was to fool the Soviets.
The US didn’t have enough money or resources to get to the moon. So they faked it. The Americans had been embarrassed by Soviet success in the so-called “space race” between the superpowers and needed a success story for the American public and to demoralise the Russians. After all, communism had to be defeated here on planet Earth and in outer space.
The faked lunar landing theories took off at the same time as the Apollo missions. Maybe it just seemed too fantastical that we had sent men – and they were all men – on to the surface of the moon. I would suggest that those who doubt the veracity of the moon landings suffer from a serious lack of imagination and grasp of what science can achieve.
In 1978, Hollywood cashed in on the paranoia with a movie called Capricorn One. The plot brought the nutty theory to life. Only this time, it was a faked mission to Mars. The whole thing was done on a movie set and afterwards, the astronauts had to be killed.
One of the astronauts in the movie was none other than OJ Simpson..subsequently jailed in real life. And yes, there are those online who link the movie to Simpson’s trial. I’m not going there – Google it for yourself.
Here’s the 1978 trailer for Capricorn One.