The Moon hoax is a conspiracy theory that claims that the entire Apollo Program was a fraud.
The Moon hoax conspiracy theory, like most such theories, is the work of a handful of individuals, notably started by Bill Kaysing in his supposed tell all book, We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, which claims to have volumes of "inside" knowledge because of his time working as a publicist and librarian at Rocketdyne. This effort was later taken up by a "self-taught" engineer Ralph Rene. The advent of the internet has allowed dozens more conspiracy theorists to grab the coattails of the "Grand Moon Hoax" for instant internet fame.
Included in the many handwaving and quote-mining concepts put forth as evidence of this theory are:
- Moon rocks were fabricated in a lab in order to make the Apollo program look legitimate, and these fake rocks have fooled every geologist that has examined them (or a majority of those geologists are in on the deception).
- The named Apollo astronauts never left the Earth as part of the missions (or Earth orbit, depending on which hoax nut you ask), and all of the Apollo telecasts were staged in a studio on Earth in a secret location (Area 51 being a favorite). They claim that this was done with either wires used to support the spacesuit clad astronauts or slow motion being used to make the actions look low gravity.
- A publicity photo of one of the Apollo missions contains an image showing a letter "C" engraved on it, indicating that it is actually a set prop, proving that the mission was completely staged, and a prop man had ignorantly placed the prop rock incorrectly.
- Moon photos are all too perfect and could not have been taken by non-experts in bulky space suits. Also they claim that the television video was made poor in order to help hide the fake moon set. They further claim that many pictures from the film cameras do not match the images on the television cameras. Many pictures are claimed to have been made with multiple light sources because the images show shadows that appear to not be parallel.
- Moon photos do not show stars, and they should be completely present.
- It was not possible for manned spacecraft to travel to the Moon because any passage through the Van Allen radiation belt is automatically lethal. They also claim that any craft built with the sufficient shielding to be able to allow a living human past the belt would be too heavy to launch into space.
These theories are easily debunked by examining the very evidence that they claim to use, and then you find out that nearly every piece of supposed "evidence" is either quote-mining, deliberate misrepresentation of the scientific data, or outright lies. Those that don't fall into one of those categories are usually just emotionally charged statements or bare assertions. If there is a logical fallacy, expect to find it in use by a Moon hoaxer. Debunks of there claims include:
- Moon rocks contain minerals, elements, and isotopes that can only be found in rocks that are subject to millions of years of exposure to cosmic and solar radiation. These isotopes are not possible to simulate in an Earth environment and still be able to have the correct exposure ages for those isotopes, and any artificially created versions would be easily detected. Moon rocks do not contain minerals that would indicate they were meteorites collected on Earth in order to fake stellar exposure due to the exposure to water and an oxygen atmosphere, which causes chemical changes in the minerals of the rocks and their replacement with other minerals commonly found in Earth rocks. These rocks show no signs of exposure to an oxygen atmosphere at the time they solidified from molten rock, and they show signs that they solidified in a low-gravity environment. Numerous minerals are unique in Moon rocks that were unknown before the Apollo missions.
- None of the Apollo astronauts, death bed or otherwise, have ever denied that they traveled to the Moon. In fact, they all talk about the extraordinary experience that the missions were and how much they changed their outlooks on the universe in general. To quote them in any amount would be unnecessary.
- None of the original pictures of the "prop" rocks, including images taken just before and after the one in question, show this letter "C", and all versions of the picture can be traced to a single mimeograph duplicate of the negative. In fact, the letter "C" can easily be shown to be a small hair that had fallen onto the glass plate of the mimeograph machine just before the duplicate was made.
- In all of the photos taken on the Moon, only the best were released to the media, thus it is easy to claim perfection, but when you look at the Apollo photo archives, those are not the majority of the pictures taken. In fact, a large number of photos taken by the Apollo crews are of poor to moderate quality. The images taken by the Apollo crew look and appear to have actually been taken by real humans beings on a bright surface with bulky space suits. Furthermore, the cameras themselves were specially built to make it possible to operate them in large heavy gloves without needing to sight through a viewfinder. Numerous terrestrial camera designs can be easily operated and get good results without requiring a viewfinder.
- The photos taken on the moon were using cameras set for use in daylight conditions. Using those settings, it is not possible to resolve stars behind a bright foreground, like the surface of the moon (or a lit parking lot for that matter) without long exposure times, rendering the main part of the images overexposed. Also, stars are not as bright as the hoaxers like to pretend that they are, and in the conditions in which the photographs were taken on the Moon ,even planets would be difficult (not impossible just difficult) to resolve in the background.
- The Moon hoaxers often, in their papers and presentations, only show the path of the Apollo missions from above, allowing them to place the ships in the densest parts of the Van Allen belt, thus allowing them to always claim the highest estimates for any and all exposure levels and times. Not only did the mission not travel directly through the belt (they went above or below them), they did not spend more then a few hours inside the most dangerous sections. They also tend to quote reports about the belts before they were extensively studied by Dr. Van Allen and others as part of their evidence, then claim any reports that disagree with initial expectations are part of the coverup. It is simply a case of not understanding how the scientific process works.
- The biggest nail in their coffin is the Soviet Union. When cornered on this, they often just claim that the Soviets, hoping to justify their own space programs or blackmailed somehow by the United States, went along with the hoax. This of course ignores that this was 1969 during the height of the Cold War, and hard on the heels of the tense political situations that had transpired mere years before. The Soviet Union would have jumped at the chance to expose such a massive coverup. This also ignores the fact that if the Soviets did know about the Apollo mission being a hoax what was stopping them from doing the same to save face? If the USA missions were all fake and they knew it how could the US even begin to dispute the Soviets pulling the same stunt without having to admit their own subterfuge.