Five decades on, some continue to question one of mankind’s most well-known achievements, but what leads people to believe the lunar landings were faked?
On 20th July 1969, two men set foot on the moon setting a global record. The space flight that landed them there, Apollo 11 celebrated the end of the space race for the US. Yet half a century later, we find ourselves still surrounded by doubters – those who believe the moon landing is a hoax. Perhaps to understand one of the most popular conspiracy theories we must look at the possible explanations for why moon landings could be a tale of fiction.
The most common theory is that filmmaker Stanley Kubrick with the help of NASA filmed the historic footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon in a studio. During this period, Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey had already been released for a year. The film displayed that there was technology available at the time to artificially construct a space-like set. What people noticed the most about 2001 was the striking special effects, it seemed to look more natural than the footage of the actual moon landings from lighting to the use of actual objects on set. To many conspiracy theorists, this seems to confirm that Kubrick could have staged the real event as he had already created such a realistic masterpiece.
The reasoning behind the conspiracy does not stop here, many theorists have pointed out factors such as the flag blowing in the wind when there is supposedly no wind on the Moon. Some have suggested that the lighting in the footage comes from a spotlight as the shadows don’t look normal and there are no stars in the background. There are many ideas like this that justify the moon landing hoax theory. However, further research from astrophysicists and even astronauts clearly provides a valid explanation for many of these statements. British astronaut Tim Peake explains why stars are not visible in the background of photographs or footage from space,
“Earth is so bright that it swamps out most if not all of the stars. The stars don’t show up because the camera cannot gather enough of their light in a short exposure.”
Other evidence also refers to the brightness of the surface of the Moon which appears even brighter in images. The flag blowing has been attributed to it being rotated by astronauts whilst they put it in to better dig in to the moon soil leading to the flag flapping in the footage. There is ample evidence supporting the fact that humans did land on the Moon numerous times between 1969 and 1972. The most significant proof includes hundreds of moon rocks brought back by astronauts which have been studied and verified by scientists for years.
The real question is despite the vast amount of scientific evidence and information available to us from NASA experts and so on, why do statistics like one in six British people agree that ‘the moon landings were staged’ exist? The most obvious reason seems to be the influence of media and popular culture, Fox News documentaries and films like Capricorn One (1978) which portrays a faked human landing on Mars have contributed to the idea that space travel is a myth. Certainly the many TV and film references over the years plus the televised debates gives legitimacy to the conspiracy. It leads to people questioning whether such a phenomenon could occur, perhaps highlighting the potency of media in our lives. People would much rather believe what they see on television and social media than factual evidence.