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Did NASA Fake the Moon Landings?

Updated on April 27, 2013
Buzz Aldrin about to set foot on the moon
Buzz Aldrin about to set foot on the moon | Source

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first human beings to set foot on another world when they walked on the moon. It was the most spectacular technological achievement in human history. All over the world, people marveled and celebrated this triumphant accomplishment. Over the next two and half years 10 more Americans would visit the moon. It was the culmination of nearly fifteen years of research, dedication and hard work by millions of Americans who chose to take JFK’s challenge to attain this seemingly unattainable goal.

But in the few years after the astronauts got back from the moon, there were people who began to have doubts that we really attained this goal. Some of them went as far as to deny it ever happened, saying the broadcasts were done in a sound studio and the thousands of pictures were faked. Conspiracy Theorists claimed that the government destroyed some evidence, faked other proof and threatened people who knew that it was faked. Others denied it happened for religious and political reasons. A few were honest people who did not believe that it was possible for humans to achieve this goal for various reason. Others were people who were skeptical of anything the government does. And there were also a few shysters who supported the hoax theories because it put money in their pockets.

Do I believe we went to the moon? Yes, of course. None of the hoax theories holds any water. In fact, most of the hoax “evidence” shows a lack of knowledge of the situations, science, physics and technologies. Most of the theories have been shot down by NASA, National Geographic and various websites. Even if the moon landings had been faked, the theorists “evidence” would never stand up. Of all the conspiracy theories, and there are many, this one is the weakest.

But that doesn’t stop people from believing the hoax theories. A 1999 Gallup Poll said that 6% of Americans believed the moon landings were faked. That figure rose to 20% after FOX broadcast the pseudo documentary Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? in 2002.


Theories about the moon landing hoax go back to the late 1960s, But they really caught on until the 1970s. In 1974, Bill Kaysing self published a book We Never Went to the Moon, America’s 30 Billion Dollar Swindle. Kaysing was head of technical publications at Rocketdyne until 1963 when he resigned “for personal reasons“. Rocketdyne was the the company that built engines for the Saturn V booster. He was not an engineer or scientist. In 1977, the Hare Krishna magazine Back to Godhead, claimed the landings were faked. According to Hindu mythology, the moon is nearly 94,000,000 miles from earth (it is really only about 230,000 miles). They theorized that in order to get there and back over the week it took, the craft would have to be going over a million miles per hour. The Flat Earth Society claimed that the landings were shot on a on a sound stage with help from the Walt Disney company.

In 1978, the movie Capricorn One was released. It was a story of a fictional flight to Mars. Before the flight, scientists realize that the astronauts will not survive, so as not to lose face the government fakes the Mars landing. This gave a boost to conspiracy theories surrounding the Apollo flights. Over the next few years, books, TV shows and written articles concerning the “hoax” were plenty. But why would they think that the whole thing was staged?

In the 1970s many people were disillusioned with the government. Watergate and the surrounding mania made many doubt the honesty of their elected officials. Theories state that the government faked the flights because (take your pick) going to the moon was a physical impossibility, the astronauts would not survive, it was a priority of national security to beat the Soviets to the moon, we had to get there by 1969 to meet JFK’s challenge to go to the moon before the 1960s ended, we weren’t going to make it and NASA had to justify the billions of taxpayers dollars that were spent.

Listed below are several subjects that conspiracy theorists like to point out in support of their determination that the moon landings were a hoax. Also I have written statements that debunk the theories:

President Nixon greets the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet. The astronauts were in quarantine for a few weeks to guard against space microbes.
President Nixon greets the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet. The astronauts were in quarantine for a few weeks to guard against space microbes. | Source

The US Government

Theorist claim that the Nixon Administration, fearing failure of the moon trip and the resulting public relations nightmare, hired Stanley Kubrick (2001 A Space Odyssey) to film the lunar landings on a soundstage. While this was revealed by Kubrick’s widow after his death, I doubt this happened. It takes many people to produce a Hollywood production. Even if the number of people were minimal and they were all sworn to secrecy, people like to talk, someone would have spoken up after all these years. And what about the people in the space program? It is estimated that 400,000 to 500,000 people were involved in the space program. Not one of them has revealed that they were involved, nor has there been a deathbed confession revealing the hoax. And remember this is an Administration that could not cover up a “third rate burglary”

(It’s pure conjecture on my part, but I wouldn’t put it past Nixon to purpose having a faked, soundstage produced moonwalk to be broadcast in case the real mission failed. But I doubt it was ever produced)

In addition, there are claims that the ten people who died in the 1960s who were part of the Space Program were killed because “they knew too much”. In addition, Bill Kaysing claimed that the government murdered the crew of Apollo 1, before they could talk. These were astronauts, test pilots and engineers killed in plane crashes, car accidents or by natural causes. Compare that to the eight Soviet cosmonauts who died from similar causes in the same time period. I don’t believe that the Government had them killed. Astronauts were test pilots who led highly dangerous and risky lives.

Luna 15
Luna 15 | Source

Soviet Union

By landing on the moon, the US won the Space Race against the Soviet Union. If the landings were faked, and the Soviets found out, they would have a huge propaganda victory. But conspiracy theorist and filmmaker Bart Sibrel (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon) said that the Soviets did not have the ability to track Apollo to the moon. He claims they did not have this technology until late 1972 and it was not a coincidence that the remaining 3 Apollo flights to the moon were cancelled. This is patently untrue. The Soviets had sent the first unmanned probe to the moon in 1959. Vasily Mishan, a Russian rocket scientist says the Apollo missions to the to the moon were tracked at the Space Transmission Corp in the Soviet Union which had the latest tracking equipment. In fact , on July 13, 1969 (3 days before Apollo 11 blasted off) the Soviets launched Luna 15. It was an unmanned probe whose mission was to soft land on the moon, scoop up some moon dust and rocks and return to Earth, thus stealing some of the US thunder. On July 21, while Armstrong and Aldrin were still on the moon, The Soviets lost control of the probe approximately 3 km above the lunar surface. The spacecraft crashed.


Theorists believe that the US faked the moon landings in order to distract the American people from the debacle in Vietnam. They point to the fact that as we pulled out of Vietnam, the remaining 3 scheduled moon missions were cancelled. In reality, the remaining missions were cancelled because they were horrendously expensive and the public wasn’t as fascinated by Apollo as they once were.


Moon landing hoax theorists point to several examples of photographic, mechanical and data anomalies that prove to them that the landings were faked. I have detailed a few of them below.


The Waving Flag

This is one of the most common points theorist bring up. They claim in several videos and photographs the flag is waving. It should not because the moon has no atmosphere. They say this proves the moon landing was filmed in a sound studio and the flag ripples because of a breeze caused by an air conditioner. The flag has an aluminum rod along the top to make the flag look as if it is unfurled. Roger Launias of the Smithsonian Institute says “the video you see where the flag is moving, is because the astronaut just placed it there and the inertia when they let go, kept it moving.” In addition, several astronauts bent the horizontal rod at the top and gave the flag a rippling look.

Edwin Aldrin with a reflection of Neil Armstrong
Edwin Aldrin with a reflection of Neil Armstrong | Source

Who Took the Picture

One of the most iconic pictures of the Apollo 11 moonwalk shows Neil Armstrong’s image reflected in Buzz Aldrin face mask. But the image does not seem to show Armstrong taking a picture. Theorists claim a third party must have taken the picture. They point to this as further evidence that the moonwalk was staged in a studio. The picture was taken by one of the crew. This is wrong. There was a very simple answer to this: The photo was taken by a camera mounted on Armstrong’s chest.

Neil Armstrong about to set foot on the moon. Image was taken from a remote control TV camera mounted on another leg of the Lunar Module
Neil Armstrong about to set foot on the moon. Image was taken from a remote control TV camera mounted on another leg of the Lunar Module | Source

Television Camera

A television camera recorded Neil Armstrong descending a ladder on the Lunar Module to the surface of the moon .Theorists stated this must come from another camera in the studio. Wrong. Very simply, the camera was located on another section of the LEM.

No Stars Visible

They claim Apollo was faked because no stars are visible on the photos and the astronauts never mentioned them. Wrong again. The lunar surface reflects the sunlight, so it’s kind of like being in a well lit city. Also remember, the side of the moon where the Apollo flights landed are constantly in daytime.

A view under the LEM which shows no dust disturbance
A view under the LEM which shows no dust disturbance | Source

No Landing Crater

In science fiction movies spacecrafts land in a plume of smoke and dust. Because the there seemed to be no disturbance of the dust below the LEMs, theorists claim that there should be a crater below the spacecraft (or at least evidence of disturbed surface dust). Actually the main landing engine was throttled way down during descent and it did not hover. Also, the LEM was moving horizontally as well as vertically as it descended. This would not have created a disturbance on the surface

a map of the Van Allen Belots
a map of the Van Allen Belots | Source

Van Allen Belts

The Van Allen Belts are areas of radiation in near space. The altitude varies from 100 km to 60,000 km. It was said that there is no way that the astronauts would survive in them. However, the design of the Apollo spacecraft protected the astronauts. They were in the Belts for a short time as they left earth orbit for the moon. NASA scientists designed the flight paths so the crafts would fly through a thin section of the belts.


There are other hoax myths that have been debunked. Theorists say that the light, shadows and terrain showed anomalies. Other concerned supposedly faked photos and date. All of these have been debunked.

At times the hoax sellers have gone overboard. In 1997, astronaut Jim Lovell called Bill Kaysing “wacky” for his theories. Kaysing sued the astronaut for libel, but the case was thrown out of court. After being refused interviews by many astronauts, Cab Driver and Conspiracy Theorist Bart Sibral lured Buzz Aldrin to a Los Angeles hotel under the pretext of an interview concerning space travel for Japanese TV. When he got there, Sibral attempted to get Aldrin to swear on a Bible that he had been to the moon. When Aldrin refused, Sibral called him “a liar, coward and thief”. Aldrin responded with a punch to Sibral’s jaw which knocked the younger man down. Sibral was not hurt, and the tape shows Aldrin was being harassed so ultimately no charges were filed.


In light of all this evidence that runs contrary to the hoax myths, why do Conspiracy Theorists continue to promote their disproven theories? Because they will profit. As Tom Hanks, the actor who portrayed Jim Lovell in Apollo 13, said “We live in a society where there is no law against making money in the promulgation of ignorance or in some cases, stupidity.“ A certain segment of society will believe the myths while another segment (with includes me) are intrigued and fascinated by them.

Moon Landing postage stamp
Moon Landing postage stamp | Source


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    • profile image

      Jack Harper 2 years ago

      What are the chances of a craft travelling millions of kilometres and not striking a rock the size of a pea?

    • profile image

      Jack Harper 2 years ago

      What are the chances of a craft travelling millions of kilometres and not striking a rock the size of a pea?

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 2 years ago from New Mexico

      Glad I am "behind the times" on this one because I dont follow bullshit myths. Ha ha, but thanks for the update.

    • profile image

      Mike Bara 2 years ago


      You are behind the times. The new twist is that some of the crop circle hoaxers are claiming aliens mind control them into making the circles.

    • profile image

      Mike Bara 2 years ago

      Only Ancient Aliens have been to the Moon!

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 3 years ago from Worcester


    • profile image

      Priya 3 years ago

      A rolling stone is worth two in the bush, thanks to this arictle.

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 3 years ago from New Mexico

      Crop circles have never been a mystery... people refuse to believe that it was a hoax, many people have admitted to being the artists behind crop circles and I once read an article where some guys used a band logo to make a crop circle and someone who tries to interpret crop circles was talking about what she thought the aliens were trying to tell people. Many believed her. Many people are blind to reality, for them its not as fun or comforting as their fantasy.

    • profile image

      Rikito 3 years ago

      some body should set up a camrea in the middle of a field in an area known to have crop circles, and see if it catches any thing. may be then the mystery will be solved. of course, it might be a while before the camrea catches any thing, but at least if it worked, we'd finally know what was causing them. probably man made, any way.

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks for reading Mathewson!

    • Mathewson profile image

      Andro Mathewson 5 years ago from Germany

      Well, lets hope that people stop thinking up random conspiracy theories about everything. Nice hub. Have shared it.

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 5 years ago from New Mexico

      That's our fault... we are more concerned with money than with science and space exploration to have had a moon base. Not to mention the religious right.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Greeting, Billdo, do you think that there is any chance of a seeing by telescope the rovers and launch pad for the LEM on the lunar surface? Seems that so much metal could be detected in this way ending much of the controversy. Great article.

      I am hoping that we return soon, where is the moon base facilities they were all promising me back in the sixties. The failure of the 2001, a space odyssey vision to come to pass has to be one of the more disappointing things for the boomer generation.

    • sammiecheston profile image

      sammiecheston 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      First, our government is crazy but not stupid. In fact, NASA's Commercial Crew integrated Capability program (CCiCap) is due to lunch the new shuttle as early as 2015. Basically, it is their version of public privative partnership (PPP). Therefore, this was already in the plan awhile back….

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California


      What a cheap shot and non responsive at that.

      I didn't pose a single conspiracy theory.

      There is a replacement for the shuttles scheduled in the sort of near future.

      I would have like to continue but it appears that you are acting childish.

      Have a great day.

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 5 years ago from New Mexico

      ib, if the Russians were gonna use the moon for military purposes then us going there would not have stopped them. As far as spending money on mars, yes, we are sending relatively cheaper craft to Mars, cheaper than what the mission to the moon would currently cost us now and it's not being done 100% by NASA. In fact why do you think the Shuttles have been scrapped? Maybe you should look into these things before making assumptions and guesses?

      Oh, I'm sorry, you love your conspiracy theories way too much, carry on.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      That really doesn't make much sense since are spending money on Mars.

      The competition was on preventing the Russians from using the Moon as a launch for military purposes.

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 5 years ago from New Mexico

      The US didn't return to the moon because people don't care enough about science as they do money and religion... We went to the moon because of this competition with the Soviet Union, and now that no one is interested in beating anyone to space we are spending money on self indulgent technologies.

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks for reading shingirisheyes

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Great myth busting article. I went to NASA a few weeks ago and there is no way that you can say this was faked when you see it in real life!

      Cheers Michael

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      bmguy621 Thanks for reading. The hoax claims are pretty easy to debunk in this case.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      The real question is why did the US not return to the moon in over forty years?

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Nice article. You may also like to read my article on same issue:

      I am afraid why some people do not believe in Moon Landing, but the same people believe in Aliens and UFOs................

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Great article. Some conspiracy theories made me review them closely. This one, however was not one of them. I never believed the moon landing was faked.

      Very interesting read

    • bmguy621 profile image

      Daniel 5 years ago from Maryland

      Excellent article, I have a somewhat eccentric uncle who believes the moon landing was faked and this article addresses all his claims.Well written, keep up the good work!


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