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Apollo Moon landing hoax

The Apollo Moon landing hoax is a myth perpetrated by many people and organizations, including Bill Kaysing and the Fox TV network. Kaysing self-published We Never Went to the Moon in 1974 and on February 15, 2001, Fox aired "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?" A "1999 poll found that 11 percent of the American public doubted the Moon landing happened, and Fox officials said such skepticism increased to about 20 percent after their show, which was seen by about 15 million viewers."* Forty years after the first Moon landing, polls find that about 6% of Americans think the Moon landings were faked.* (On the other hand, 12% think that landing on the moon was the greatest scientific achievement of the last 50 years.*) (A 2013 poll by Public Policy Polling at Fordham University found that 7% of registered voters still think the Moon landing was a hoax.The same poll found that 13% think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ.)

TV celebrities continue to fuel the myth, either out of ignorance or out of a desire to stir up controversy and increase viewers. A video of Whoopi Goldberg wondering out loud about who took the footage and why the flag was waving if there was no wind can be found at Salon.com. Really. Even a TV celebrity should know about remote cameras. (The apparent flag waving is discussed below.)

There are a number of concerns that conspiracy theorists think indicate a hoax was played by NASA. Each of these concerns has been dealt with in excruciating detail by Phil Plait, the Myth Busters, David Adam, and others. One of the more popular videos on YouTube shows an old Buzz Aldrin punching a young Bible-toting Moon hoax conspiracy theorist in the face.

Of course, there are more punching arguments than Aldrin's, but none quite as amusing or to the point.

The conspiracy folks have brought up the waving flag issue many times. It is surprising that Goldberg hasn't taken the time to Google it before opening her yap on "The View." For those who haven't heard, the flag moves when touched and it would do so even in a vacuum.

Phil Plait writes:

The flag is mounted on one side on the pole, and along the top by another pole that sticks out to the side. In a vacuum or not, when you whip around the vertical pole, the flag will 'wave', since it is attached at the top. The top will move first, then the cloth will follow along in a wave that moves down. This isn't air that is moving the flag, it's the cloth itself....

The flag hangs from a horizontal rod which telescopes out from the vertical one. In Apollo 11, they couldn't get the rod to extend completely, so the flag didn't get stretched fully. It has a ripple in it, like a curtain that is not fully closed. In later flights, the astronauts didn't fully deploy it on purpose because they liked the way it looked. In other words, the flag looks like it is waving because the astronauts wanted it to look that way. Ironically, they did their job too well. It appears to have fooled a lot of people into thinking it waved.*

Some of the concerns of the hoax believers seem to be based on a lack of understanding of things like how perception works. There is no credible evidence to support the Moon hoax conspiracy. As each concern of the conspiracy theory is answered, the more vocal some of the hoax believers become. As Adam Savage put it: "they reject every single piece of evidence that doesn’t adhere to their thesis."* The improbability of thousands of engineers, scientists, astronauts, and support staff keeping their mouths shut for forty years to maintain the hoax is mind boggling, but of little concern to the believers in the Moon hoax.

For the 94% of us who recognize the achievement of the Apollo program, here are the facts:

NASA's Apollo Program (1961–1975) had the goal of conducting manned moon landings. The first landing was accomplished on July 20, 1969. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 mission were the first humans on the Moon. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last one in 1972.

further reading


Plait, Philip C. Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" (Wiley & Sons 2002).


Bad Astronomy: Fox TV and the Apollo Moon Hoax Hoax

Those Apollo Hoax myths

Top Ten Apollo hoax claims (with pictures!)

Mythbusters: Moon Hoax


Moon Hoax +10 Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait Phil reminisces about the making of superstar. Last updated 12-Mar-2015


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