Friday, 24 July 2009

Apollo hoaxers busted!

A commenter on one of my many Apollo 11 posts called the moon landings “the biggest lie in the history of the world.”

Um,  leaving aside the obvious fact that history’s biggest lies are obviously a toss up between the teachings of the world’s religions and the teachings of most of the world’s philosophy professors, it’s scary to contemplate just how much context a moon landing skeptic has to drop to maintain their conspiracy theory.

  • that every single one of the hundreds of thousands of participants in the hoax, the vast majority of them government employees,  have managed to keep the secret all these years -- when government employees couldn’t even keep secret the story of something as simple as a break-in to a Washington hotel.
  • that the Soviet Union, with whom the United States was locked in a cold war and space race, and who tracked the journey of the moon landings from their Space Transmissions Corp, would not have jubilantly let the cat out of the bag themselves.
  • that all of the other independent observers who followed the path of the mission by various means, using information released to the public by NASA explaining where third party observers could expect to see the various craft at specific times, were all in on it too.
  • the bringing back of moon rocks almost 700 million years older than the oldest Earth rocks.

To name just a few things you’d have to ignore.  No wonder astronauts are prone to punching loonies in the face.  And not to mention all the science.  Did I mention the science?  There are any number of websites  that will give you chapter and verse on why the conspiracy theorists’ theories are bunk. But tell you what, for sheer entertainment value why not watch the Mythbusters team go to work on every leading claim made by moon landing loonies.  You can see the whole 'Mythbusters' episode in five parts right here.  Go on, watch it.  Watch them slice, dice and then pulverise every single one of the leading claims, and then finish up at the end with a final flourish, and see if you can still maintain your skepticism.

It all ends up game, set, match and grand slam to the Mythbusters and the moon landers – or as one of the Mythbusters team sums up, “in your face, conspiracy theorists.”


  1. PC said...
    ...the biggest lie in the history of the world.

    I reckon that that most architectures believe the hoax (perhaps except you and a few PC).

  2. should be:

    most architects.

  3. I'm sure they'd prefer to be called moon-landing sceptics.

  4. The science is settled....

    I'm amused by the ease with which key 'evidence' can be debunked. "Cross hairs on photographs appear to be fiddled with" merely proves the photos were re-touched, not faked. "There's no wind on the moon to flap the flag" No wind in a TV studio either. Clearly it's the astronauts hand still holding the flag. I think the Myth Busters guys did an experiment in a vacuum to disprove that one. Go and deny something that has some deniability merit, like, hmm, I dunno AGW

  5. Elijah Lineberry24 Jul 2009, 17:01:00

    A lot of people think the moon landing was a hoax?

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

    Working class people are so funny aren't they? (bless 'em)

  6. I can't understand why someone can't duplicate the Apollo 11 rocket for regular moon landings.

    Surely cost wouldn't be an issue if you are duplicating 1960's technology?

  7. Elijah

    I've met and discussed the moon landings with a number of the engineers and technologists responsible. They were working class stiffs, each and every one!


  8. PC

    "No wonder astronauts are prone to punching loonies in the face."

    Ahhhh, that wouldn't be a provocation defense your presenting there would it?


  9. Ahhhh, that wouldn't be a provocation defense your presenting there would it?


    Nice hook for a 72 year old though.

  10. It would be exactly the same provocation for me LGM if our blog discussion here is something that we do face to face. A storm of punches would be delivered to your face for the very reason that you continue to provoke me with your posts here.

    Are they the same thing?

  11. Kurt

    Try this then.

    I'm still here. I'm still posting. I'll keep posting with the certain knowledge that you'll get yourself all emotional and upset whenever I do.

    I'm laughing at you!


  12. Singularian

    Yes. A good hit. Good on him!


  13. Anon

    You wrote, "I can't understand why someone can't duplicate the Apollo 11 rocket for regular moon landings.

    Surely cost wouldn't be an issue if you are duplicating 1960's technology?"

    Firstly, the technology used for the 1960s moon launches was incredibly expensive. Much of it still is (e.g. heavy-lift rockets are not cheap). The fundamental technology necessary was already available but it needed significant development and much engineering effort to achieve the objective. It cost big-time then and it still cost big-time now.

    Secondly, there was no economic rationale for making the effort in the first place. It was a political stunt- that and that alone. The opportunity costs were titanic. The USA continues to experience the costs and losses of this political adventure right up to the present day.

    Thirdly, it was an exceptionally risky undertaking. Several critical systems had no redundancy- some of those related to life support, some to propulsion, some to power supply and some to navigation. The reason for this was to save weight and reduce complexity.

    Interestingly, when Soviet aerospace engineers were shown the lunar module and the command module close up, they were horrified by the risks that had been taken by the crew. It was reported that one of the reasons they cancelled their manned lunar attempt was that they could not figure out how to include sufficient depth of redundancy for crew survival. At the time, they thought the USA lead in technology to be far greater than it actually was! Imagine their surprise when, many years on, they discovered they were much closer than they'd realised.

    Anyway, a repeat of this sort of risk taking is not something that anyone would want to consider if a regular moon service is the objective. Count on one mission in 14 not coming home. Apollo was very, very lucky.

    Forth, cost is ALWAYS an issue. This space stuff consumes cubic mega dollars by the week. You require huge resources of man-power, exotic materials and manufacturing processes, machinery etc. etc. etc. The people you need to employ do not come cheap. They are highly skilled, motivated, meticulous, particular and, in general, well aware of their value.

    There must be a return for all this investment. Thus far manned moon missions do not offer anything other than political benefit (with "benefit" being the operative term). Essentially they are worthless consumers of OPM (other people's money).

    You mentioned that cost should not be the issue were we to duplicate 1960s technology. I'll make this one point. Presently I am restoring a car built in the 1970s. So far the cost of the restoration have exceeded the original purchase price several times over. We are approaching the $50k mark and have yet to start working on the engine, transmission assembly. Just because the technology is old and relatively unsophisticated does not mean it is cheap. Unfortunate but true.


  14. Good points LGM

    So how much do you reckon an apollo 11 duplicate would cost today?

    Could Richard Branson afford it?

  15. If it was so expensive and dangerous why did NASA "apparently" return on several other occasions following Apollo 11? What was the political benefit? ...and if the Americans could do it again and again for little, if any, political benefit why didn't the Russians go and put there flag next to the American one?

  16. Anon

    I'm not certain what an Apollo duplicate would cost today. It'd be hugely costly though.

    There are better ways to attempt the manned moon landing feat than a completely disposable rocket. A reusable rocket plane to near Earth orbit is probably going to be necessary (until laser powered vehicles are available- see what Keith Myrabo is proposing). From there you would probably want to have a dedicated vehicle for transportation to lunar orbit. That way it could be quite large with a good payload. It would also be reusable. A system of space tethers might be the ticket. Hard to say. By specifying successful trip repeatability you have set a very high standard to achieve.

    I do not think Richard Branson has anywhere enough wealth to even go for a oncer to the Moon and back. Remember, what he is financing presently is a quick trip 100km up and then straight back down (after about 10 minutes or so "space" time). That is not even near-Earth orbit. It isn't really out of the atmosphere- perhaps to the edge of it, but not more.

  17. Fred

    The political benefit was self-evident. Look what we can do! We, the USA govt, run the best country in the World! And we can keep going up there to the Moon if we want to! See! We did it again!

    The Apollo program was terminated not long after those first lunar landings. Several launches for later in the program (they were already planned and scheduled- crews had been selected and trained already) were prematurely cancelled. NASA was able to consume some of the remaining Saturn hardware they already had in the pipeline, but construction of new items ceased with immediate effect when NASA's budget was trimmed.

    Once the Washington politicians and propagandists had their fill of space stuff, they moved their focus onto other issues and that was the end of the moon shot caper. There was no economic reason to keep going there at the time and without the political will there was no support from Washington to continue.

    The Soviets concentrated their limited space budgets on Earth orbit work. They realised early that they didn't have the resources of the USA, so they abandoned their Moon project in favour of space stations in Earth orbit (remember Mir). Much of the seminal work in prolonged human exposure to low gravity environments was undertaken by the Soviets. They ended up as acknowledged leaders in this arena for many, many years. They also got involved with unmanned exploration probes to Mars and Venus. They certainly got their propaganda out of those achievements.

    The USSR was in the process of consuming ever more of what resource they did have to keep a corrupt totalitarian government in control of a significant part of the World. They spent hugely on their military but also on surveillance of their own people and those of other countries. They expended a significant propaganda effort internationally with some not inconsiderable success. They were fast to realise that they could score hugely against Washington by directing their efforts in directions other than trips to the Moon. In terms of infiltration, destabilisation, spying and the like it is difficult to think of any outfit that approached the Soviets for effectiveness. Fortunately, their successes were completely overwhelmed by the inherent flaws of their political system.

    In the end, they, like the US govt, decided that space was really very expensive. The resources were more politically usefully when directed elsewhere.



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