“It is commonly believed that man will fly directly from the earth to the moon, but to do this, we would require a vehicle of such gigantic proportions that it would prove an economic impossibility. It would have to develop sufficient speed to penetrate the atmosphere and overcome the earth’s gravity and, having traveled all the way to the moon, it must still have enough fuel to land safely and make the return trip to earth. Furthermore, in order to give the expedition a margin of safety, we would not use one ship alone, but a minimum of three … each rocket ship would be taller than New York’s Empire State Building [almost ¼ mile high] and weigh about ten times the tonnage of the Queen Mary, or some 800,000 tons.”
– Wernher von Braun, the father of the Apollo space program, writing in Conquest of the Moon
Wagging the Moondoggie – Part I
I can see all of you scratching your heads out there and I know exactly what it is that you are thinking: “Why the hell are we taking this detour to the Moon? What happened to Laurel Canyon? Have you completely lost your mind?”
It all began a few months ago, when I became very busy at my day job as well as with family drama and with what turned out to be a very time-consuming side project, all of which made it increasingly difficult for me to carve out chunks of time to work on the remaining chapters in the series. Over the next two months or so, I pretty much lost all momentum and soon found it hard to motivate myself to write even when I could find the time.
That happens sometimes. Though it sounds rather cliché, ‘writer’s block’ is a very real phenomenon. There are many times when I can sit down at the keyboard and the words flow out of my head faster than I can get them down on the page. But there are also times when producing just one halfway decent sentence seems a near impossible task. This was one of those times.
I found a new source of inspiration, however, when my wife e-mailed me the recent story about the fake Dutch Moon rock, which I and many others found quite amusing, and which also reminded me that I had a lot of other bits and pieces of information concerning the Apollo project that I had collected over the nine years that have passed since I first wrote about the alleged Moon landings. After taking that first look, back in 2000, I was pretty well convinced that the landings were, in fact, faked, but it was perfectly obvious that the rather short, mostly tongue-in-cheek post that I put up back in July of 2000 was not going to convince anyone else of that.
So I contemplated taking a more comprehensive look at the Apollo program. Toward that end, I pulled up my original Apollo post along with various other bits and pieces scattered throughout past newsletters, threw in all the newer material that had never made it onto my website, and then combed the Internet for additional information. In doing so, I realized that a far better case could be made than what I had previously offered to readers.
I also realized that a far better case could be made than what is currently available on the ‘net.
I was rather surprised actually by how little there is out there – a couple of books by Bill Kaysing and Ralph Rene, a smattering of websites and a variety of YouTube videos of varying quality. Virtually all of the websites and videos tend to stick to the same ground covered by Kaysing and Rene, and they almost all use the same NASA photographs to argue the same points. So too do the sites devoted to ‘debunking’ the notion that the landings were faked, and those sites seem to actually outnumber the hoax sites.
While suffering through the numbing uniformity of the various websites on both sides of the aisle, it became perfectly clear that the hoax side of the debate was in serious need of a fresh approach and some new insights. So I began writing again. Feverishly. That does not mean, however, that I have abandoned the Laurel Canyon series. I intend to get back to it quite soon.
And truth be told, while the Apollo story may initially appear to be a radical departure from the ongoing Laurel Canyon series, it actually isn’t much of a detour at all. After all, we’re still going to be living in the 1960s and 1970s. And to a significant degree, we’re probably still going to be hanging out in Laurel Canyon – because who else, after all, was NASA going to trust to handle the post-production work on all that Apollo footage if not Lookout Mountain Laboratory?
I am very well aware, by the way, that there are many, many people out there – even many of the people who have seen through other tall tales told by our government – who think that Moon hoax theorists are complete kooks. And a whole lot of coordinated effort has gone into casting them as such. That makes wading into the Moon hoax debate a potentially dangerous affair.
Remember when Luther (played by Don Knotts) gets taken to court and sued for slander in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken? And don’t try to pretend like you’ve never seen it, because we both know that you have. So anyway, he goes to court and a character witness is called and the guy delivers credible testimony favoring Luther and it is clear that the courtroom is impressed and everything is looking good for our nebbish hero, Luther. Remember what happens next though? On cross-examination, the witness reveals that he is the president of a UFO club that holds their meetings on Mars!
The courtroom, of course, erupts with laughter and all of that formerly credible testimony immediately flies right out the window.
I have already received e-mails warning that I will suffer a similar fate (from people who heard me discussing the topic on Meria Heller’s radio show). Not to worry though – I have somewhat of an advantage over others who have attempted to travel this path: I don’t really care. My mission is to ferret out the truth, wherever it may lie; if at various points along the way, some folks are offended and others question my sanity, that’s not really something that I lose a lot of sleep over.
Anyway, a whole lot of people are extremely reluctant to give up their belief in the success of the Apollo missions. A lot of people, in fact, pretty much shut down at the mere mention of the Moon landings being faked, refusing to even consider the possibility (Facebook, by the way, is definitely not the best place to promote the notion that the landings were faked, in case anyone was wondering). And yet there are some among the True Believers who will allow that, though they firmly believe that we did indeed land on the Moon, they would have understood if it had been a hoax. Given the climate of the times, with Cold War tensions simmering and anxious Americans looking for some sign that their country was still dominant and not technologically inferior to the Soviets, it could be excused if NASA had duped the world.
Such sentiments made me realize that the Moon landing lie is somewhat unique among the big lies told to the American people in that it was, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively benign lie, and one that could be easily spun. Admitting that the landings were faked would not have nearly the same impact as, say, admitting to mass murdering 3,000 Americans and destroying billions of dollars worth of real estate and then using that crime as a pretext to wage two illegal wars and strip away civil, legal and privacy rights.
And yet, despite the fact that it was a relatively benign lie, there is a tremendous reluctance among the American people to let go of the notion that we sent men to the Moon. There are a couple of reasons for that, one of them being that there is a romanticized notion that those were great years – years when one was proud to be an American. And in this day and age, people need that kind of romanticized nostalgia to cling to.
But that is not the main reason that people cling so tenaciously, often even angrily, to what is essentially the adult version of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. What primarily motivates them is fear. But it is not the lie itself that scares people; it is what that lie says about the world around us and how it really functions. For if NASA was able to pull off such an outrageous hoax before the entire world, and then keep that lie in place for four decades, what does that say about the control of the information we receive? What does that say about the media, and the scientific community, and the educational community, and all the other institutions we depend on to tell us the truth? What does that say about the very nature of the world we live in?
That is what scares the hell out of people and prevents them from even considering the possibility that they could have been so thoroughly duped. It’s not being lied to about the Moon landings that people have a problem with, it is the realization that comes with that revelation: if they could lie about that, they could lie about anything.
It has been my experience that the vast majority of the people who truly believe in the Moon landings know virtually nothing about the alleged missions. And when confronted with some of the more implausible aspects of those alleged missions, the most frequently offered argument is the one that every ‘conspiracy theorist’ has heard at least a thousand times: “That can’t possibly be true because there is no way that a lie that big could have been covered up all this time … too many people would have known about it … yadda, yadda, yadda.”
But what if your own eyes and your innate (though suppressed) ability to think critically and independently tell you that what all the institutions of the State insist is true is actually a lie? What do you do then? Do you trust in your own cognitive abilities, or do you blindly follow authority and pretend as though everything can be explained away? If your worldview will not allow you to believe what you can see with your own eyes, then the problem, it would appear, is with your worldview. So do you change that worldview, or do you live in denial?
The Moon landing lie is unique among the big lies in another way as well: it is a lie that seemingly cannot be maintained indefinitely. Washington need never come clean on, say, the Kennedy assassinations. After all, they’ve been lying about the Lincoln assassination for nearly a century-and-a-half now and getting away with it. But the Moon landing hoax, I would think, has to have some kind of expiration date.
How many decades can pass, after all, without anyone coming even close to a reenactment before people start to catch on? Four obviously haven’t been enough, but how about five, or six, or seven? How about when we hit the 100-year anniversary?
If the first trans-Atlantic flight had not been followed up with another one for over forty years, would anyone have found that unusual? If during the early days of the automobile, when folks were happily cruising along in their Model T’s at a top speed of 40 MPH, someone had suddenly developed a car that could be driven safely at 500 MPH, and then after a few years that car disappeared and for many decades thereafter, despite tremendous advances in automotive technology, no one ever again came close to building a car that could perform like that, would that seem at all odd?
There are indications that this lie does indeed have a shelf life. According to a July 17, 2009 post on CNN.com, “It’s been 37 years since the last Apollo moon mission, and tens of millions of younger Americans have no memories of watching the moon landings live. A 2005-2006 poll by Mary Lynne Dittmar, a space consultant based in Houston, Texas, found that more than a quarter of Americans 18 to 25 expressed some doubt that humans set foot on the moon.”
The goal of any dissident writer is to crack open the doors of perception enough to let a little light in – so that hopefully the seeds of a political reawakening will be planted. There are many doors that can be pried open to achieve that goal, but this one seems particularly vulnerable. Join me then as we take a little trip to the Moon. Or at least pretend to.
“If NASA had really wanted to fake the moon landings – we’re talking purely hypothetical here – the timing was certainly right. The advent of television, having reached worldwide critical mass only years prior to the moon landing, would prove instrumental to the fraud’s success.”
Adolph Hitler knew a little bit about the fine art of lying. In Mein Kampf, he wrote that, “If you’re going to tell a lie, make sure it’s a really fucking big lie.”
Truth be told, I’m not exactly conversant in the German language so that may not be an exact translation, but it certainly captures the gist of what the future Fuhrer was trying to say. He went on to explain that this was so because everyone in their everyday lives tells little lies, and so they fully expect others to do so as well. But most people do not expect anyone to tell a real whopper … you know, the kind of brazen, outlandish lie that is just too absurd to actually be a lie. The kind of lie that is so over-the-top that no one would dare utter it if it was in fact a lie.
That is the type of lie, according to Hitler, that will fool the great masses of people, even when the lie is so transparently thin that it couldn’t possibly stand up to any kind of critical analysis by anyone actually exercising their brain rather than just blindly accepting the legitimacy of the information they are fed. Take, for example, the rather fanciful notion that the United States landed men on the Moon in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. That’s the kind of lie we’re talking about here: the kind that seems to defy logic and reason and yet has become ingrained in the national psyche to such an extent that it passes for historical fact.
And anyone who would dare question that ‘historical fact,’ needless to say, must surely be stark raving mad.
Before proceeding any further, I should probably mention here that, until relatively recently, if I had heard anyone putting forth the obviously drug-addled notion that the Moon landings were faked, I would have been among the first to offer said person a ride down to the grip store. While conducting research into various other topics, however, it has become increasingly apparent that there are almost always a few morsels of truth in any ‘conspiracy theory,’ no matter how outlandish that theory may initially appear to be, and so despite my initial skepticism, I was compelled to take a closer look at the Apollo program.
The first thing that I discovered was that the Soviet Union, right up until the time that we allegedly landed the first Apollo spacecraft on the Moon, was solidly kicking our ass in the space race. It wasn’t even close. The world wouldn’t see another mismatch of this magnitude until decades later when Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini came along. The Soviets launched the first orbiting satellite, sent the first animal into space, sent the first man into space, performed the first space walk, sent the first three-man crew into space, was the first nation to have two spacecraft in orbit simultaneously, performed the first unmanned docking maneuver in space, and landed the first unmanned probe on the Moon.
Everything the U.S. did, prior to actually sending a manned spacecraft to the Moon, had already been done by the Soviets, who clearly were staying at least a step or two ahead of our top-notch team of imported Nazi scientists. The smart money was clearly on the Soviets to make it to the Moon first, if anyone was to do so. Their astronauts had logged five times as many hours in space as had ours. And they had a considerable amount of time, money, scientific talent and, perhaps most of all, national pride riding on that goal.
And yet, amazingly enough, despite the incredibly long odds, the underdog Americans made it first. And not only did we make it first, but after a full forty years, the Soviets apparently still haven’t quite figured out how we did it. The question that is clearly begged here is a simple one: Why is it that the nation that was leading the world in the field of space travel not only didn’t make it to the Moon back in the 1960s, but still to this day have never made it there? Could it be that they were just really poor losers? I am imagining that perhaps the conversation over in Moscow’s equivalent of NASA went something like this:
Boris: Comrade Ivan, there is terrible news today: the Yankee imperialists have beaten us to the Moon. What should we do?
Ivan: Let’s just shit-can our entire space program.
Boris: But comrade, we are so close to success! And we have so much invested in the effort!
Ivan: Fuck it! If we can’t be first, we aren’t going at all.
Boris: But I beg of you comrade! The moon has so much to teach us, and the Americans will surely not share with us the knowledge they have gained.
In truth, the entire space program has largely been, from its inception, little more than an elaborate cover for the research, development and deployment of space-based weaponry and surveillance systems. The media never talk about such things, of course, but government documents make clear that the goals being pursued through space research are largely military in nature. For this reason alone, it is inconceivable that the Soviets would not have followed the Americans onto the Moon for the sake of their own national defense.
It is not just the Soviets, of course, who have never made it to the Moon. The Chinese haven’t either. Nor has any other industrialized nation, despite the rather obvious fact that every such nation on the planet now possesses technology that is light-years beyond what was available to NASA scientists in the 1960s.
Some readers will recall that (and younger readers might want to cover their eyes here, because the information to follow is quite shocking), in the 1960s, a full complement of home electronics consisted of a fuzzy, 13-channel, black-and-white television set with a rotary tuning dial, rabbit ears and no remote. Such cutting-edge technology as the pocket calculator was still five years away from hitting the consumer market.
It is perfectly obvious, of course, that it was not consumer electronics that allegedly sent men to the Moon. The point here though is that advances in aerospace technology mirror advances in consumer technology, and just as there has been revolutionary change in entertainment and communications technology, so too has aerospace technology advanced by light-years in the last four decades. Technologically speaking, the NASA scientists working on the Apollo project were working in the Dark Ages. So if they could pull it off back then, then just about anyone should be able to do it now.
It would be particularly easy, needless to say, for America to do it again, since we’ve already done all the research and development and testing. Why then, I wonder, have we not returned to the Moon since the last Apollo flight? Following the alleged landings, there was considerable talk of establishing a space station on the Moon, and of possibly even colonizing Earth’s satellite. Yet all such talk was quickly dropped and soon forgotten and for nearly four decades now not a single human has been to the Moon.
Again, the question that immediately comes to mind is: Why? Why has no nation ever duplicated, or even attempted to duplicate, this miraculous feat? Why has no other nation even sent a manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon? Why has no other nation ever attempted to send a manned spacecraft anywhere beyond low-Earth orbit?
Is it because we already learned everything there was to learn about the Moon? If so, then could it reasonably be argued that it would be possible to make six random landings on the surface of the Earth and come away with a complete and thorough understanding of this heavenly body? Are we to believe that the international scientific community has no open questions that could be answered by a, ahem, ‘return’ trip to the Moon? And is there no military advantage to be gained by sending men to the Moon? Has man’s keen interest in exploring celestial bodies, evident throughout recorded history, suddenly gone into remission?
Maybe, you say, it’s just too damned expensive. But the 1960s were not a particularly prosperous time in U.S. history and we were engaged in an expensive Cold War throughout the decade as well as an even more expensive ‘hot’ war in Southeast Asia, and yet we still managed to finance no less than seven manned missions to the Moon, using a new, disposable, multi-sectioned spacecraft each time. And yet in the four decades since then, we are apparently supposed to believe that no other nation has been able to afford to do it even once.
While we’re on the subject of the passage of time, exactly how much time do you suppose will have to pass before people in significant numbers begin to question the Moon landings? NASA has recently announced that we will not be returning, as previously advertised, by the year 2020. That means that we will pass the fifty-year anniversary of the first alleged landing without a sequel. Will that be enough elapsed time that people will begin to wonder? What about after a full century has passed by? Will our history books still talk about the Moon landings? And if so, what will people make of such stories? When they watch old preserved films from the 1960s, how will they reconcile the laughably primitive technology of the era with the notion that NASA sent men to the Moon?
Consider this peculiar fact: in order to reach the surface of the Moon from the surface of the Earth, the Apollo astronauts would have had to travel a minimum of 234,000 miles*. Since the last Apollo flight allegedly returned from the Moon in 1972, the furthest that any astronaut from any country has traveled from the surface of the Earth is about 400 miles. And very few have even gone that far. The primary components of the current U.S. space program – the space shuttles, the space station, and the Hubble Telescope – operate at an orbiting altitude of about 200 miles.
(*NASA gives the distance from the center of Earth to the center of the Moon as 239,000 miles. Since the Earth has a radius of about 4,000 miles and the Moon’s radius is roughly 1,000 miles, that leaves a surface-to-surface distance of 234,000 miles. The total distance traveled during the alleged missions, including Earth and Moon orbits, ranged from 622,268 miles for Apollo 13 to 1,484,934 miles for Apollo 17. All on a single tank of gas.)
To briefly recap then, in the twenty-first century, utilizing the most cutting-edge modern technology, the best manned spaceship the U.S. can build will only reach an altitude of 200 miles. But in the 1960s, we built a half-dozen of them that flew almost 1,200 times further into space. And then flew back. And they were able to do that despite the fact that the Saturn V rockets that powered the Apollo flights weighed in at a paltry 3,000 tons, about .004% of the size that the principal designer of those very same Saturn rockets had previously said would be required to actually get to the Moon and back (primarily due to the unfathomably large load of fuel that would be required).
To put that into more Earthly terms, U.S. astronauts today travel no further into space than the distance between the San Fernando Valley and Fresno. The Apollo astronauts, on the other hand, traveled a distance equivalent to circumnavigating the planet around the equator nine-and-a-half times! And they did it with roughly the same amount of fuel that it now takes to make that 200 mile journey, which is why I want NASA to build my next car for me. I figure I’ll only have to fill up the tank once and it should last me for the rest of my life.
“But wait,” you say, “NASA has solid evidence of the validity of the Moon landings. They have, for example, all of that film footage shot on the moon and beamed live directly into our television sets.”
Since we’re on the subject, I have to mention that transmitting live footage back from the Moon was another rather innovative use of 1960s technology. More than two decades later, we would have trouble broadcasting live footage from the deserts of the Middle East, but in 1969, we could beam that shit back from the Moon with nary a technical glitch!
As it turns out, however, NASA doesn’t actually have all of that Moon-walking footage anymore. Truth be told, they don’t have any of it. According to the agency, all the tapes were lost back in the late 1970s. All 700 cartons of them. As Reuters reported on August 15, 2006, “The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ … Armstrong’s famous moonwalk, seen by millions of viewers on July 20, 1969, is among transmissions that NASA has failed to turn up in a year of searching, spokesman Grey Hautaluoma said. ‘We haven’t seen them for quite a while. We’ve been looking for over a year, and they haven’t turned up,’ Hautaluoma said … In all, some 700 boxes of transmissions from the Apollo lunar missions are missing.”
Given that these tapes allegedly documented an unprecedented and unduplicated historical event, one that is said to be the greatest technological achievement of the twentieth century, how in the world would it be possible to, uhmm, ‘lose’ 700 cartons of them? Would not an irreplaceable national treasure such as that be very carefully inventoried and locked away in a secure film vault? And would not copies have been made, and would not those copies also be securely tucked away somewhere? Come to think of it, would not multiple copies have been made for study by the scientific and academic communities?
Had NASA claimed that a few tapes, or even a few cartons of tapes, had been misplaced, then maybe we could give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps some careless NASA employee, for example, absentmindedly taped a Super Bowl game over one of them. Or maybe some home porn. But does it really seem at all credible to claim that the entire collection of tapes has gone missing – all 700 cartons of them, the entire film record of the alleged Moon landings? In what alternative reality would that happen ‘accidentally’?
Some of you are probably thinking that everyone has already seen the footage anyway, when it was allegedly broadcast live back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, or on NASA’s website, or on YouTube, or on numerous television documentaries. But you would be mistaken. The truth is that the original footage has never been aired, anytime or anywhere – and now, since the tapes seem to have conveniently gone missing, it quite obviously never will be.
The fact that the tapes are missing (and according to NASA, have been for over three decades), amazingly enough, was not even the most compelling information that the Reuters article had to offer. Also to be found was an explanation of how the alleged Moonwalk tapes that we all know and love were created: “Because NASA’s equipment was not compatible with TV technology of the day, the original transmissions had to be displayed on a monitor and re-shot by a TV camera for broadcast.”
So what we saw then, and what we have seen in all the footage ever released by NASA since then, were not in fact live transmissions. To the contrary, it was footage shot off a television monitor, and a tiny black-and-white monitor at that. That monitor may have been running live footage, I suppose, but it seems far more likely that it was running taped footage. NASA of course has never explained why, even if it were true that the original broadcasts had to be ‘re-shot,’ they never subsequently released any of the actual ‘live’ footage. But I guess that’s a moot point now, what with the tapes having gone missing.
With NASA’s admission of how the original broadcasts were created, it is certainly not hard to imagine how fake Moon landing footage could have been produced. As I have already noted, the 1960s were a decidedly low-tech era, and NASA appears to have taken a very low-tech approach. As Moon landing skeptics have duly noted, if the broadcast tapes are played back at roughly twice their normal running speed, the astronauts appear to move about in ways entirely consistent with the way ordinary humans move about right here on planet Earth. Here then is the formula for creating Moonwalk footage: take original footage of guys in ridiculous costumes moving around awkwardly right here on our home planet, broadcast it over a tiny, low-resolution television monitor at about half speed, and then re-film it with a camera focused on that screen. The end result will be broadcast-ready tapes that, in addition to having that all-important grainy, ghostly, rather surreal ‘broadcast from the Moon’ look, also appear to show the astronauts moving about in entirely unnatural ways.
But not, it should be noted, too unnatural. And doesn’t that seem a little odd as well? If we’re being honest here (and for my testosterone-producing readers, this one is directed at you), the average male specimen, whether astronaut or plumber, never really grows up and stops being a little boy. And what guy, given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend some time in a reduced gravity environment, isn’t going to want to see how high he can jump? Or how far he can jump? Hitting a golf ball? Who the hell wants to see that? How about tossing a football for a 200-yard touchdown pass? Or how about the boys dazzling the viewing audience with some otherworldly acrobatics?
And yes, Neil and the guys did exhibit some playfulness at times while allegedly walking on the Moon, but doesn’t it seem a bit odd that they failed to do anything that couldn’t be faked simply by changing the tape speed? When I attended college, I knew a guy on the volleyball team who had a 32” vertical leap right here on Earth. So when I see guys jumping maybe 12”, if that, in a 1/6 gravity environment with no air resistance, I’m not really all that impressed.
Am I the only one, by the way, who finds it odd that people would move in slow motion on the Moon? Why would a reduced gravitational pull cause everything to move much more slowly? Given the fact that they were much lighter on their feet and not subject to air and wind resistance, shouldn’t the astronauts have been able to move quicker on the Moon than here on Earth? Was slow motion the only thing NASA could come up with to give the video footage an otherworldly feel?
Needless to say, if what has been proposed here is indeed how the ‘Moon landing’ footage in the public domain was created, then the highly incriminating original footage – which would have looked like any other footage shot here on Earth, except for the silly costumes and props – would have had to have been destroyed. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that NASA now takes the position that the original footage has been missing since “sometime in the late 1970s.”
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the video footage that is missing. Also allegedly beamed back from the Moon was voice data, biomedical monitoring data, and telemetry data to monitor the location and mechanical functioning of the spaceship. All of that data, the entire alleged record of the Moon landings, was on the 13,000+ reels that are said to be ‘missing.’ Also missing, according to NASA and its various subcontractors, are the original plans/blueprints for the lunar modules. And for the lunar rovers. And for the entire multi-sectioned Saturn V rockets.
There is, therefore, no way for the modern scientific community to determine whether all of that fancy 1960s technology was even close to being functional or whether it was all for show. Nor is there any way to review the physical record, so to speak, of the alleged flights. We cannot, for example, check the fuel consumption throughout the flights to determine what kind of magic trick NASA used to get the boys there and back with less than 1% of the required fuel. And we will never, it would appear, see the original, first-generation video footage.
You would think that someone at NASA would have thought to preserve such things. No wonder we haven’t given them the money to go back to the Moon; they’d probably just lose it.
Wagging the Moondoggie – Part II
“Well,” you now say, “what about all those cool Moon rocks? How did they get those? The Moon is, you know, the only source of Moon rocks, so doesn’t that prove that we were there?”
No, as a matter of fact, it does not prove that we were there, and as odd as it may sound, the Moon is not the only source of Moon rocks. As it turns out, authentic Moon rocks are available right here on Earth, in the form of lunar meteorites. Because the Moon lacks a protective atmosphere, you see, it gets smacked around quite a bit, which is why it is heavily cratered. And when things smash into it to form those craters, lots of bits and pieces of the Moon fly off into space. Some of them end up right here on Earth.
By far the best place to find them is in Antarctica, where they are most plentiful and, due to the terrain, relatively easy to find and well preserved. And that is why it is curious that Antarctica just happens to be where a team of Apollo scientists led by Wernher von Braun ventured off to in the summer of 1967, two years before Apollo 11 blasted off. You would think that, what with the demanding task of perfecting the hugely complex Saturn V rockets, von Braun and his cronies at NASA would have had their hands full, but apparently there was something even more important for them to do down in Antarctica. NASA has never offered much of an explanation for the curiously timed expedition.
Some skeptics have said that it is possible that Moon rocks could have been gathered from the Moon with robotic probes. But while it isn’t being argued here that unmanned craft haven’t reached the Moon, it seems virtually inconceivable that any unmanned spacecraft could have landed on and then been brought back from the surface of the Moon in the 1960s or 1970s. There is no indication that it can even be done today. It’s been more than three decades since anyone has claimed to do it, and that claim, by the Soviets, is highly suspect.
What is known for sure is that even some of the ‘debunking’ websites have, albeit reluctantly, acknowledged that meteorite samples gathered from Antarctica are virtually indistinguishable from NASA’s collection of Moon rocks. Of course, as we very recently learned, that is not true of all of NASA’s Moon rocks. Some of them apparently bear no resemblance at all to lunar meteorites. Instead, they look an awful lot like petrified wood from the Arizona desert.
Such was the case with a ‘Moon rock’ that the Dutch national museum has been carefully safeguarding for many years now, before discovering, in August of 2009, that they were in reality the proud owners of the most over-insured piece of petrified wood on the planet. The ‘Moon rock’ had been a gift to the Dutch from the U.S. State Department, and its authenticity had reportedly been verified through a phone call to NASA. I’m guessing that NASA was probably running low on meteorite fragments and figured the Dutch wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Or maybe Washington was a little peeved over the fact that Dutch newspapers reportedly called NASA’s bluff at the time of the first alleged Moon landing.
A piece of moon rock was given during a goodwill tour by the three Apollo 11 astronauts. (Photo: Getty Images)
This is not to suggest, of course, that all of the Moon rocks passed out by NASA and the State Department are obvious fakes. Most, presumably, are of lunar origin – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were gathered by American astronauts walking on the surface of the Moon; they could just as easily have come to Earth as meteorites. It is also possible that they are of otherworldly origin but not from the Moon at all – such as meteorites from other sources that have been collected here on Earth. The only way to know for sure what NASA’s Moon rocks are, of course, would be to compare them to a ‘control rock’ that is known to be from the Moon.
The problem, alas, is that the only known source for ‘authenticated’ Moon rocks is NASA, the very same folks who are known to occasionally hand out chunks of petrified wood. The other problem, it turns out, is that most of the Moon rocks are, uhmm, missing. Does anyone see a pattern developing here?
Since the discovery of the fake Moon rock in the Dutch museum, ‘debunkers’ have claimed that the fact that no other Moon rocks have been declared fake proves that the Dutch case is an isolated one. “After that announcement,” goes the argument, “wouldn’t every other country in possession of a Moon rock have rushed to have them authenticated? And since no other country has made a similar announcement, doesn’t that prove that the Moon rocks are real?”
At first glance, that would appear to be a valid argument. The problem, however, is that the vast majority of those countries can’t test their ‘Moon rocks’ because, shockingly enough, no one knows where they are! As the Associated Press reported on September 13, 2009, “Nearly 270 rocks scooped up by U.S. astronauts were given to foreign countries by the Nixon administration … Of 135 rocks from the Apollo 17 mission given away to nations or their leaders, only about 25 have been located by CollectSpace.com, a Web site for space history buffs that has long attempted to compile a list … The outlook for tracking the estimated 134 Apollo 11 rocks is even bleaker. The locations of fewer than a dozen are known.”
It appears then that having a ‘control rock’ wouldn’t really be of much help after all, since nearly 90% of the alleged Moon rocks that we would want to test don’t seem to be around any more.
“But I have also heard,” you now say, “that photos have been taken of the equipment left behind by the Apollo astronauts on the surface of the Moon, like the descent stages of the lunar modules. How do you account for that?”
It is certainly true that there have been numerous claims over the years that various satellites or unmanned space probes or space telescopes were going to capture images that would definitively prove that man walked on the Moon, thus settling the controversy once and for all. And in recent years, the ‘debunkers’ have openly gloated whenever such an announcement has been made, boldly proclaiming that all the “hoax believers” will soon be exposed as the ignorant buffoons that they are.
Despite all the promises, however, no such images have ever been produced, a fact that the ‘debunkers’ seem to conveniently overlook while forever rushing to announce that the hoax theories are about to be discredited.
For at least two decades now, since the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, we have been promised dazzling images of the lunar modules sitting on the surface of the Moon. The Hubble technology, needless to say, never managed to deliver. More recently, in 2002, the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (whose inventor apparently coined the name while watching Sesame Street) was also supposed to deliver the promised images. And seven years later, the fabled images have yet to materialize.
In March of 2005, Space.com boldly announced that a “European spacecraft now orbiting the Moon could turn out to be a time machine of sorts as it photographs old landing sites of Soviet robotic probes and the areas where American Apollo crews set down and explored. New imagery of old Apollo touchdown spots, from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) SMART-1 probe, might put to rest conspiratorial thoughts that U.S. astronauts didn’t go the distance and scuff up the lunar landscape. NASA carried out six piloted landings on the Moon in the time period 1969 through 1972. Fringe theorists have said … that NASA never really went to the Moon.”
I’m guessing that most “fringe theorists” will continue to harbor “conspiratorial thoughts” for as long as pompous websites like Space.com continue making arrogant proclamations such as that and then not following them up with so much as a single image in well over four years.
Who knew, by the way, that the European Space Agency had the technology and the budget to send a spacecraft off to orbit the Moon? Who knew that the Europeans even had a space agency? I wonder, given that they obviously have the technology to send spacecraft to the Moon, why they haven’t sent any manned missions there? I would think that it should be fairly easy to send some guys to at least orbit the Moon … right? I mean, all they have to do is add a couple seats to the spacecraft design that they already have and they should be ready to go.
Here is another thing that I sometimes wonder about: why it is that in the 1960s we possessed the advanced technology required to actually land men on the Moon, but in the 21st century we don’t even have the technology required to get an unmanned craft close enough to the Moon to take usable photographs? Or could it be that there’s just nothing there to photograph?
Just this year, NASA itself boldly announced that it’s “Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. The pictures show the Apollo missions’ lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon’s surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules’ locations evident … ‘The LROC team anxiously awaited each image,’ said LROC principal investigator Mark Robinson of Arizona State University. ‘We were very interested in getting our first peek at the lunar module descent stages just for the thrill – and to see how well the cameras had come into focus. Indeed, the images are fantastic and so is the focus.’”
Sounds promising, doesn’t it? The images, however, hardly live up to the billing. They are, in fact, completely worthless. All they depict are tiny white dots on the lunar surface that could be just about anything and that would barely be visible at all without those handy “long shadows from a low sun angle.” And the weird thing about those shadows is that, in the very same NASA article, it says that “because the sun was so low to the horizon when the images were made, even subtle variations in topography create long shadows.” And yet while it is perfectly obvious that there are more than just “subtle variations” in the lunar topography in the images, the alleged lunar modules are the only things casting the long shadows.
Even if we give NASA every benefit of the doubt and assume that the images have not been amateurishly Photoshopped and that the indiscernible white dots are indeed something of man-made origin, the most likely culprit would be those Soviet robotic probes mentioned by Space.com, which presumably did land on the Moon. A number of those probes, which were part of the Apollo-era Luna Program, were very similar in size and shape to the lunar modules – certainly enough so that images of much higher resolution would be required to make a definitive judgment.
Actually, after studying the image above, of one of the alleged Luna probes, I’m going to have to say that the Soviets were lying their asses off almost as much as NASA was. There is no way I’m going to buy into the notion that the Soviets sent a free-form abstract sculpture, which appears to have been constructed by Fred Sanford and Granny Clampett, on a 234,000 mile journey from the Earth to the Moon. Careful study of the central area of the photo, however, does reveal why the spacecraft were known as ‘probes.’ I wonder if they were capable of performing docking maneuvers?
According to NASA, Japan and India have also sent unmanned orbiting spacecraft to the Moon in recent years, as has China. As with the ESA’s and NASA’s orbiters, they too have failed to return any images of Earthly artifacts left behind on the surface of the Moon. If the hoax ‘debunking’ websites are to be believed, by the way, the reason that no one has returned to the Moon in thirty-seven years is because we pretty much already tapped that celestial body for all the information it had to offer. There’s really, you see, nothing much left to see there.
A ‘debunking’ article posted by ABCNews.com, for example, quoted Val Germann, the president of the Central Missouri Astronomical Association, as saying, “There’s no reason to go back … Quite frankly, the moon is a giant parking lot, there’s just not much there.” I wonder why it is then that just about everyone seems to want to send unmanned probes there, or to train enormously powerful telescopes on the Moon’s surface? What could they possibly learn about the “parking lot” from those distances that our astronauts didn’t already discover by actually being there?
Some True Believers also claim that what was dubbed the Lunar Laser Ranging experiment also proves that we really went to the Moon. As the story goes, the astronauts on Apollo 11, Apollo 14, and Apollo 15 all allegedly left small laser targets sitting on the lunar terrain (one of them can be seen in the official NASA photo reproduced below), so that scientists back home could then bounce lasers off the targets to precisely gauge the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
According to the ‘debunkers,’ the fact that observatories to this day bounce lasers off the alleged targets proves that the Apollo missions succeeded. It is perfectly obvious though that the targets, if there, could have been placed robotically – most likely by the Soviets. It is also possible that there are no laser targets on the Moon. In December 1966, National Geographic reported that scientists at MIT had been achieving essentially the same result for four years by bouncing a laser off the surface of the Moon. The New York Times added that the Soviets had been doing the same thing since at least 1963.
There was much about the Apollo flights that was truly miraculous, but arguably the greatest technological achievement was the design of the lunar modules. Has anyone, by the way, ever really taken a good look at one of those contraptions? I mean a detailed, up-close look? I’m guessing that the vast majority of people have not, but luckily we can quickly remedy that situation because I happen to have some really good, high-resolution images that come directly from the good people at NASA.
While what is depicted in the images may initially appear, to the untrained eye, to be some kind of mock-up that someone cobbled together in their backyard to make fun of NASA, I can assure you that it is actually an extremely high-tech manned spacecraft capable of landing on the surface of the Moon. And incredibly enough, it was also capable of blasting off from the Moon and flying 69 miles back up into lunar orbit! Though not immediately apparent, it is actually a two-stage craft, the lower half (the part that looks like a tubular aluminum framework covered with Mylar and old Christmas wrapping paper) being the descent stage, and the upper half (the part that looks as though it was cobbled together from old air conditioning duct work and is primarily held together, as can be seen in the close-up, with zippers and gold tape) being the ascent stage.
The upper half, of course, is the more sophisticated portion, being capable of lifting off and flying with enough power to break free of the Moon’s gravity and reach lunar orbit. It also, of course, possessed sophisticated enough navigational capabilities for it to locate, literally out in the middle of fucking nowhere, the command module that it had to dock with in order to get the astronauts safely back to Earth. It also had to catch that command module, which was orbiting the Moon at a leisurely 4,000 miles per hour.
But we’ll get to all that a little later. I think we can all agree for now that such a sleek, stylish, well-designed craft would have no problem flying with that kind of power, precision and stability.
There is one thing that appears to be a problem though: how did they get everything on board the modules that they were going to need to successfully complete their missions? According to NASA, the modules were (excluding the landing pads) only about twelve feet in diameter. That is obviously not a whole lot of space to work with, so let’s try to think of everything that we would need if we were astronauts venturing off on a little journey to the Moon.
First of all, of course, we have to account for the space taken up by the various components of the ship itself. There is the framework and the, uhh, let’s call it the ‘fuselage’ of the craft. And we will need a lot of very sophisticated navigation and guidance and communications equipment, all of which took up a whole lot more space back in the ‘60s than it would today. And then, needless to say, there is the power supply – or rather multiple power supplies. For the descent stage, there is the reverse-thrust rocket that allegedly allowed the craft to make a soft landing on the Moon. And then for the ascent stage, there is a powerful rocket to propel the random bundle of sheet metal into lunar orbit. There are also additional rockets to allegedly stabilize the vessel in flight (the random clusters of what look like bicycle horns).
Next up is the massive amount of fuel that will be required to power all of those rockets, for both the ascent and descent stages of the mission. The ascent stage in particular is going to be a bit of a fuel hog, as ascending 69 miles and breaking free of the Moon’s gravity is a formidable challenge, to say the least. Though it may only have 1/6 the gravitational pull of Earth, keep in mind that it is still a force strong enough to create the tides here on Earth, 234,000 miles away.
I’m not a rocket scientist, by the way, so I am sure that there are quite a few components that I am leaving off of my lunar module – but that’s okay, because our spaceship is already feeling really cramped just with the stuff listed so far. And we’re just getting started.
Next we have to include everything required to keep ourselves alive and well. We aren’t going to be there very long, of course, and space is obviously limited, but we will still require some basic amenities. We will, after all, have to sleep somewhere in the ship, won’t we? Or will we just unfold cots on the lunar surface? We will also require a sanitation/septic system of some kind. Or did those missions bring about another ‘first’ that NASA has been reluctant to brag about? Was Neil Armstrong, unbeknownst to the American people, the first man to take a dump on lunar soil? Or was it Buzz Aldrin? Which astronaut has the distinction of being the first to soil the lunar landscape?
Anyway, getting back to our packing list, in addition to a sanitation system, it is imperative that we bring along an adequate supply of food, water and oxygen – and not just enough to last for the planned duration of our visit, but enough to supply a small safety cushion should anything go wrong. Because from what I have heard, running out of food, water or oxygen while on the Moon can really fuck up an otherwise perfectly good trip. The oxygen is especially important, so we’re going to need a really good, reliable system to deliver that oxygen, and to, you know, recharge the oxygen tanks in our spacesuits so we can walk around on the Moon and jump like 8” or 9” high like the Apollo guys did. And a back-up oxygen system probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.
We are also going to need to install a top-of-the-line heating and cooling system. Probably several of them, actually. Because the ‘weather’ on the Moon, so to speak, can be a bit unpleasant. According to the experts over at NASA, daytime highs average a balmy +260° F, but it cools off quite a bit at night, dropping to an average of -280° F. If you’re looking for anything between those two extremes, you won’t really find it on the Moon. It’s pretty much one or the other. If you’re in the sun, you’re going to be boiled alive, and if you’re out of the sun, you’re going to be flash frozen.
I’m not at all sure how the air conditioning system is going to work, come to think of it, since air conditioning requires a steady supply of – and please stop me if I am stating the obvious here – air. And the Moon doesn’t really have a lot of that.
It would help, of course, if our spacecraft was heavily insulated in some manner, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, so we’ll need a really, really good heating and cooling system, and plenty of freon or whatever it is that we’ll need to keep it running. So now we have to add all of the following to our already crowded spacecraft: ourselves; a minimal amount of room to sleep and otherwise take care of the basic necessities of life; some type of plumbing and sewage system; a really good heating and cooling system, and a considerable supply of food, water and oxygen. And we’re still not done packing for our trip.
Now we have to add all of the equipment that will be required to maintain the ship and complete our planned missions. First of all, we are definitely going to need to pack an exhaustive supply of spare parts and a wide variety of tools. That is an absolute must. From what I have heard, there are a few stores on the Moon that do stock spaceship parts, but they tend to close on certain days of the week. And orders from the mainland can take a frustratingly long time to arrive, so it’s always best to be prepared for any emergency. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with our spaceship and the only thing harder than finding a good mechanic here on Earth is finding one on the Moon.
And then, of course, we’ll have to bring all the fancy testing equipment that we will use to pretend to conduct experiments. Some of it is quite bulky, so we’ll need to set aside some storage space for all of that. And we’re going to need some additional storage space to bring back all those petrified wood samples, but we should have room for that after we jettison most of the fake testing equipment.
Our spaceship is now so ridiculously overloaded that we may have had to add a roof-rack and we still aren’t quite done yet. We still have a couple more items to pack, and we probably should have gotten them on sooner because they are going to require a lot of space. Since this is one of the later Apollo flights, you see, we also have to pack a dune buggy, otherwise known as a lunar rover. And the rovers, according to NASA, are a full ten feet long, just two feet less than the diameter of our craft. But not to worry – according to NASA, the rovers (pictured below) folded up to the size of a large suitcase. When released, they would just sort of magically unfold and snap into place, ready to roam the lunar terrain.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure why we have to pack the damn rover. There is no real compelling reason to take it to the Moon … except for the fact that they make for good TV, and that seems to be of paramount importance. And as can be seen below, it should easily fit into our spaceship.
One last thing we’re going to need is a whole lot of batteries. Lots and lots of batteries. That’s going to be the only way to power the ship while we’re on the Moon, and we’ll definitely need to run the communications systems, and the oxygen supply system, and the heating and cooling system, and the cabin lights, and the television cameras and transmitters, and all the testing equipment, and our spacesuits, and that damn rover. And we won’t be able to recharge any of the various batteries, so we’re going to need a lot of back-ups. Especially of the really big batteries that run the ship. We may need a separate ship just to carry all the batteries we’re going to need.
By the way, I can’t possibly be the only one who is disappointed that we never followed up on that breakthrough folding-vehicle technology. If we had folding Moon buggies back in the early 1970s, then how far behind could folding automobiles have been had we chosen to stay the course? Had NASA’s pioneering vision been followed up, we could all be folding up our cars and tucking them away under our office desks. But as with all the Apollo technology, it existed only in that specific period of time and has now, sadly, been lost to the ages.
NASA has done something very odd, by the way, with the lunar module that it has on display for museum visitors to marvel at: it has staffed it with miniature astronauts wearing miniature space suits (the module may also be scaled slightly larger than the ‘real’ modules that allegedly landed on the Moon). I wonder why they would do that? I’m pretty sure that Buzz and Neil were of normal stature, so the only reason that I can think of that they would use miniature astronauts would be to portray the modules as larger than what they actually were. And in better condition too. Did they pick up the ones they sent to the Moon at a used car lot?
Before moving on, I need to emphasize here just how sophisticated the lunar modules actually were. These remarkable spacecraft – and I understandably get a little choked up here talking about this, because I am just so damn proud of our team of Nazi scientists – managed to make six perfect take-offs from the surface of the Moon! And understand here people that they did that, amazingly enough, with completely untested technology!
You can’t duplicate the conditions on the Moon here at home, you see, or even provide a rough approximation. And since no one had ever been to the Moon, they didn’t know exactly what to replicate anyway, so this part of the mission was pretty much of a crapshoot. Conditions on the Moon are, to say the least, a bit different than here on Earth. The gravitational pull is only about 1/6 of what it is here. And then there is that whole ‘lack of atmosphere’ thing. And the decidedly unearthly temperatures. And then, of course, there are the high levels of space radiation.
I’m quite sure that we had the best minds available working on the Apollo project, but none of them could have accurately predicted and compensated for how all those unearthly conditions would combine to affect the flight potential of the lunar modules. So the ability of the modules to actually blast off from the Moon and fly was, at best, a theoretical concept.
It is also important to remember that, unlike the initial blast-off from Earth (seen above), which involved the collective efforts of thousands of people and the use of all types of peripheral equipment, the astronauts taking off from the Moon had only themselves and a strange vessel that looked like it had been salvaged from the set of Lost in Space. What would you be thinking, by the way, if you suddenly found yourself on the surface of the Moon with what looked like a cheap movie prop as your only way home? Would you feel comfortable hanging around for a few days doing experiments, confident that, when the time came, the untested contraption behind you would actually get you back home from the Moon? Or would the words “bad career choice” be running through your head?
But as it turns out, America kicked ass back then and those lunar modules performed like champions every single time! They didn’t even need any modifications! Despite the completely foreign environment, they worked perfectly the very first time and every time thereafter!
On Earth, it took many long years of trial and error, many failed test flights, many unfortunate accidents, and many, many trips back to the drawing board before we could safely and reliably launch men into low-Earth orbit. But on the Moon? We nailed that shit the very first time.
Today, of course, we can’t even launch a space shuttle from right here on planet Earth without occasionally blowing one up, even though we have lowered our sights considerably. After all, sending spacecraft into low-Earth orbit is considerably easier than sending spacecraft all the way to the friggin’ Moon and back. It would appear then that we can draw the following conclusion: although technology has advanced immeasurably since the first Apollo Moon landing and we have significantly downgraded our goals in space, we can’t come close to matching the kick-ass safety record we had in the Apollo days.
The thing is that, back in the frontier days, we didn’t need all that fancy technology and book-learnin’ to send Buzz and the boys to the Moon and back. Back then, we had that American can-do spirit and we just cowboyed up and MacGyvered those spaceships to the Moon. All we needed was an old Volkswagen engine, some duct tape and a roll of bailing wire. Throw a roll of butt-wipe and a little Tang on board and you were good to go.
And how about the speed with which we cranked out those Apollo spacecraft? Once we figured out how to make them, we were stamping them out like Coke cans. We fired off seven of them in just under three-and-a-half years, or about one every six months. Given the extreme complexity of those vessels, and the fact that every component had to perform flawlessly under largely unknown conditions, that is a pretty impressive production schedule. America, I think it is safe to say, totally rocked back then!
Wagging the Moondoggie – Part III
If the Moon landings were faked, then one question that naturally arises is: why would any government go to such extreme lengths to mount such an elaborate hoax?
The most obvious answer (and the one most frequently cited by skeptics) is to reclaim a sense of national pride that had been stripped away by America’s having played follow-the-leader with the Soviets for an entire decade. While this undoubtedly played a large role, there are other factors as well – factors that haven’t been as fully explored. But before we look at those, we must first deal with the question of whether it would have even been possible to pull off such an enormous hoax.
Could so many people have really been duped into believing such an outrageous lie, if that in fact was what it was? To answer that question, we have to keep in mind that we are talking about the summer of 1969 here. Those old enough to have been there will recall that they – along with the vast majority of politically active people in the country – spent that particular period of time primarily engaged in tripping on some really good acid (most likely from the lab of Mr. Owsley).
How hard then would it really have been to fool most of you? I probably could have stuck a fish bowl on my head, wrapped myself in aluminum foil, and then filmed myself high-stepping across my backyard and most of you would have believed that I was Moonwalking. Some of you couldn’t entirely rule out the possibility that everyone was walking on the Moon.
In truth, not everyone was fooled by the alleged Moon landings. Though it is rarely discussed these days, a significant number of people gave NASA’s television productions a thumbs-down. As Wired magazine has reported, “when Knight Newspapers polled 1,721 US residents one year after the first moon landing, it found that more than 30 percent of respondents were suspicious of NASA’s trips to the moon.” Given that overall trust in government was considerably higher in those pre-Watergate days, the fact that nearly a third of Americans doubted what they were ‘witnessing’ through their television sets is rather remarkable.
When Fox ran a special on the Moon landings some years back and reported that 1-in-5 Americans had doubts about the Apollo missions, various ‘debunking’ websites cried foul and claimed that the actual percentage was much lower. BadAstronomy.com, for example, claims that the actual figure is about 6%, and that roughly that many people will agree “with almost any question that is asked of them.” Hence, there are only a relative handful of kooks who don’t believe that we’ve ever been to the Moon.
All of those websites fail to mention, of course, that among the people who experienced the events as they were occurring, nearly 1-in-3 had doubts, a number considerably higher than the number that Fox used. And, needless to say, the ‘debunkers’ also failed to mention that 1-in-4 young Americans, a number also higher than the figure Fox used, have doubts about the Moon landings.
Returning then to the question of why such a ruse would be perpetrated, we must transport ourselves back to the year 1969. Richard Nixon has just been inaugurated as our brand new president, and his ascension to the throne is in part due to his promises to the American people that he will disengage from the increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam. But Tricky Dick has a bit of a problem on his hands in that he has absolutely no intention of ending the war. In fact, he would really, really like to escalate the conflict as much as possible. But to do so, he needs to set up a diversion – some means of stoking the patriotic fervor of the American people so that they will blindly rally behind him.
In short, he needs to wag the dog.
This has, of course, traditionally been done by embarking on some short-term, low-risk military endeavor. The problem for Big Dick, however, is that a military mission is exactly what he is trying to divert attention away from. What, then, is a beleaguered president to do? Why, send Neil and Buzz to the Moon, of course! Instead of wagging the dog, it’s time to try something new: wagging the Moondoggie!
Nixon’s actions from the very moment he takes office belie his campaign pledges to the American people (not unlike that Barry Obama guy, who also led the American people to believe that he opposed an unpopular war). In May of 1969, with Nixon just a few months into his term, the press begins publicizing the illegal B-52 carpetbombing of Cambodia engineered by that irrepressible war criminal, Henry Kissinger. By June, Nixon is scrambling to announce what is dubbed the ‘Vietnamization’ of the war, which comes with a concomitant withdrawal of U.S. troops.
In truth, however, only 25,000 of the 540,000 U.S. troops then deployed will be brought home. This ruse is, therefore, transparently thin and it will buy the new president little time. To make matters worse, on July 14th, Francis Reitemeyer is granted Conscientious Objector status on the basis of a petition his attorney has filed which explicitly details the training and instruction he has just received in assassination and torture techniques in conjunction with his assignment to the CIA’s Phoenix Program. With these documents entering the public domain, the full horrors of the war are beginning to emerge.
Just in time to save the day, however, Apollo 11 blasts off on July 16th on its allegedly historic mission, and – with the entire nation enthralled – four days later the Eagle purportedly makes its landing on the pristine lunar surface. Vietnam is temporarily forgotten as America swells with patriotic pride for having beaten the Evil Empire to the Moon. There is little time to worry about the brutality of war when Neil is taking that “one giant leap for mankind.”
The honeymoon is short-lived, however, for just four months later, in November of 1969, Seymour Hersch publishes a story about the massacre of 504 civilians in the village of My Lai, bringing home to America the full savagery of the war in Southeast Asia. It’s time then for another Moon launch, and Apollo 12 dutifully lifts off on November 14th, making another picture-perfect lunar landing before returning on November 24th. The country is once again entranced by the exploits of America’s new breed of hero, and suddenly every kid in the country wants to grow up to be an astronaut.
All is well again until March of 1970, at which time a U.S.-backed coup deposes Prince Sihanouk in Cambodia and Lon Nol is handpicked by the CIA to replace him. Cambodia then immediately jumps in the fray by committing troops to the U.S. war effort. The war is further escalated the next month when Nixon authorizes an invasion of Cambodia by U.S. and ARVN ground forces, another move engineered by Henry Kissinger. Nixon has been in office just over a year and the war, far from winding down, has now expanded into Cambodia both in the air and on the ground.
Meanwhile, it’s time for yet another Moon launch. But this one is not going to be just any Moon launch. This one, you see, is going to introduce the element of danger. With the first two having gone off without a hitch, the American people – known for having notoriously short attention spans – are already adopting a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. The problem, in a nutshell, is that it looks just a little too damn easy. In order to regain the attention of the American people, it has to be impressed upon them that our brave astronauts are placing themselves in grave danger.
And so it is that on April 11th, 1970, Apollo 13 blasts off with Tom Hanks and a couple of somewhat lesser known actors on board, but unlike the first two missions, this Apollo spacecraft fails to reach the Moon and instead drifts about for the next six days with the crew in mortal danger of being forever lost in space! Now that gets our attention! So much so that when three Vietnam vets hold a multi-city press conference in New York, San Francisco and Rome on April 14th, attempting to publicize the ongoing Phoenix Program in which they have participated and have firsthand knowledge, nobody can really be bothered with paying much attention. It’s hard to be too concerned about the fate of Vietnamese villagers, you see, when Tom and the boys are clearly in trouble.
Awaiting news of the fate of the Apollo 13 crew, we all have our eyes glued to our TVs as though we are watching postmortem coverage of Michael Jackson. When our heroes somehow make it back alive, defying seemingly impossible odds, we are all so goddamned proud of them that we decide to award Tom another Oscar. And all is well again for the remainder of the year.
I really have to repeat here, by the way, that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, America really did rock! I mean, how about that Apollo safety record? Seven manned Moon launches with seven perfect take-offs! Tom and the boys obviously never did make it to the Moon, but the other six crews sure as hell did, and all six set those lunar modules down like the consummate professionals that they were, and all six used that untested technology to successfully blast off from the Moon and attain lunar orbit, and then all six successfully docked with the orbiting command modules. And all seven of those command modules, even Apollo 13’s, returned intact and with their crews happy and healthy.
That was just an awesome time to be an American and especially to be an American astronaut … well, except for the three guys (Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee) who were burned alive during a test procedure in the command module of what was to be the Apollo 1 rocket. But they were troublemakers anyway who probably wouldn’t have wanted to go along with the Moon landing fable. And then there was that Thomas Baron guy who was a safety inspector for NASA and who delivered highly critical testimony and a 1,500-page report to Congress, only to then be killed a week later. That report seems to have been sucked into the same Black Hole that swallowed up all the other Apollo evidence.
Anyway, returning now to our timeline, the dawn of 1971 brings the trial of Lt. William Calley on charges that he personally ordered and oversaw the mass murder of the inhabitants of the village of My Lai. And on January 31st, Apollo 14 is launched and once again makes a flawless lunar landing. On February 9th, the Apollo team returns, just a few weeks before Calley is convicted of murder (he served an absurdly short sentence under ‘house arrest’ and none of his superiors were ever held accountable).
A few months after that, the New York Times begins publication of the infamous Pentagon Papers, revealing American policy in Vietnam to be a complex web of lies. Publication is quickly stopped by the Justice Department but resumes once again as June turns to July. This is quickly followed, on July 26th, by the launch of Apollo 15. Four days later, yet another flawless lunar landing clearly demonstrates that America is the most bad-ass nation on Earth. But Moonwalking has become a bit of a bore for the American people, so a new element is introduced and from now on our beloved astronauts will roam the lunar surface in dune buggies. The lunar modules haven’t gotten any bigger, but now they can transport vehicles to the Moon. Cool!
Back on Earth, the astronauts return on August 7th and the rest of the year passes uneventfully. On March 30, 1972, North Vietnamese troops mount a massive offensive across the DMZ into Quang Tri Province, revealing as lies the pompous statements by numerous Washington hacks that victory is close at hand. Nixon and Co. respond to the offensive with deep penetration bombing of North Vietnam and, for good measure, the illegal mining of North Vietnam’s ports. They also respond by launching, on April 16th, another rocket (and another dune buggy) to the Moon. On April 27th, the crew of Apollo 16 once again return to a hero’s welcome.
By the end of the year, a ceasefire is finally looming on the horizon. Beginning in October, Kissinger and David Bruce (a member of the infamous Mellon family) are secretly negotiating peace terms with Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam. In December, however, those talks break down – but not before Apollo 17 is launched on December 7th in a most spectacular way: it is the first night launch of a Saturn V rocket. With the latest Apollo mission still a few days away from returning, the talks cease and Dick and Henry unleash a final ruthless carpetbombing campaign against North Vietnam, snuffing out countless thousands of civilian lives. Meanwhile, America warmly greets its returning astronauts.
Just five weeks later, the talks having resumed, a peace agreement is announced. Within a few days a ceasefire is in effect, thereby officially ending America’s involvement in Southeast Asia. Though the CIA will remain to continue directing the war by proxy, America’s men and women in uniform come home. And the Apollo program – despite several additional missions having been planned and discussed, and despite the additional funding that should have been available with the war drawing to a close – will never be heard from again.
In addition to restoring national pride and providing a diversion from the savage colonial war being waged in Southeast Asia, the Apollo program undoubtedly served another function as well: covert funding of that war effort. Needless to say, faking Moon landings is less expensive than actually making Moon landings, and a whole lot of money was funneled NASA’s way during the Vietnam years to accomplish the latter. It stands to reason that a considerable amount of that money could well have been diverted into covert operations being conducted in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In addition, a portion of the Apollo funding likely financed the early stages of the militarization of space.
There is no shortage of Moon hoax ‘debunking’ sites out there on the wild and wooly World Wide Web. The majority of them are not particularly well written or argued and yet they tend to be rather smug and self-congratulatory. Most of them tend to stick to ‘debunking’ the same facts and they use the same arguments to do so.
One thing they like to talk a lot about is the Van Allen radiation belts. The Moon hoax sites talk a lot about them as well. The hoaxers will tell you that man cannot pass through the belts without a considerable amount of radiation protection – protection that could not have been provided in the 1960s through any known technology. And the ‘debunkers’ claim that the Apollo astronauts would have passed through the belts quickly enough that, given the levels of radiation, no harm would have come to them. The hoaxers, say the ‘debunkers,’ are just being girlie men.
As it turns out, both sides are wrong: the ‘debunkers,’ shockingly enough, are completely full of shit, and the hoaxers have actually understated the problem by focusing exclusively on the belts. We know this because NASA itself – whom the ‘debunkers’ like to treat as a virtually unimpeachable source on all things Apollo, except, apparently, when the agency posts an article that implicitly acknowledges that we haven’t actually been to the Moon – has told us that it is so. They have told us that in order to leave low-Earth orbit on any future space flights, our astronauts would need to be protected throughout the entirety of the flight, as well as – and once again, this comes directly from NASA – while working on the surface of the Moon.
On June 24, 2005, NASA made this rather remarkable admission: “NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration calls for a return to the Moon as preparation for even longer journeys to Mars and beyond. But there’s a potential showstopper: radiation. Space beyond low-Earth orbit is awash with intense radiation from the Sun and from deep galactic sources such as supernovas … Finding a good shield is important.” (http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/24jun_electrostatics.htm)
You’re damn right finding a good shield is important!! Back in the 1960s, of course, we didn’t let a little thing like space radiation get in the way of us beating the Ruskies to the Moon. But now, I guess, being that we are more cultured and sophisticated, we want to do it the right way so we have to come up with some way of shielding our spaceships. And our temporary Moon bases. And figuring out how to do that, according to NASA, could be a real “showstopper.”
As NASA notes, “the most common way to deal with radiation is simply to physically block it, as the thick concrete around a nuclear reactor does. But making spaceships from concrete is not an option.” Lead, which is considerably denser than concrete, is actually the preferred material to use for radiation shielding, but lead also isn’t very popular with spaceship designers. In fact, word on the street is that one of the main reasons the Soviets never made it to the Moon was because their scientists calculated that four feet of lead shielding would be required to protect their astronauts, and those same scientists apparently felt that spaceships wouldn’t fly all that well when clad in four feet of lead.
Now NASA is thinking outside the box and contemplating using ‘force fields’ to repel the radiation, a seemingly ridiculous idea that, whether workable in the future or not, certainly wasn’t available to NASA in the 1960s. Below is NASA’s own artist rendering of a proposed ‘force field’ radiation shield that would allow astronauts to work safely on the Moon. As you may have noticed in the earlier photos of the lunar modules, our guys didn’t bring anything like that with them on their, uhmm, earlier missions to the Moon. And you may have also noticed that the modules did not have any type of physical shielding.
How then did they do it? My guess is that the answer lies in that gold foil wrap. While it may look like an amateurish attempt to make the modules appear more ‘high-tech,’ I have a hunch that what we are looking at is another example of the lost technology of the 1960s – this time in the form of a highly-advanced superpolymer that provided maximum radiation shielding while adding virtually no weight. So all we have to do is track down a few leftover rolls of that stuff and we should be well on our way to sending guys back to the Moon.
According to Charles Buhler, a NASA scientist currently working on the force field concept, “Using electric fields to repel radiation was one of the first ideas back in the 1950s, when scientists started to look at the problem of protecting astronauts from radiation. They quickly dropped the idea though because it seemed like the high voltages needed and the awkward designs that they thought would be necessary … would make such an electric shield impractical.”
What a real journalist would have asked here, of course, is: “After dropping the electric shield concept, exactly what did they decide to use to get our astronauts safely to the Moon and back on the Apollo missions? And why can’t we do the same thing now, rather than reinventing the wheel? Don’t you guys have some of that gold foil in a closet somewhere?” No one in the American media, of course, bothered to ask such painfully obvious questions.
The 2005 report from NASA ends as follows: “But, who knows, perhaps one day astronauts on the Moon … will work safely.” Yes, and while we’re dreaming the impossible dream, let’s add a few more things to our wish list as well, like perhaps one day we’ll be able to listen to music on 8-track tape players, and talk to people on rotary dial telephones, and carry portable transistor radios, and use cameras that shoot pictures on special film that develops right before our eyes. Only time will tell, I suppose.
The Van Allen belts, by the way, trap most Earth-bound radiation, thus making it safe for us mortals down here on the surface of planet Earth, as well as for astronauts in low-Earth orbit (the belts extend from 1,000 to 25,000 miles above the surface of the Earth). The danger is in sending men through and beyond the belts, which, apart from the Apollo missions, has never been attempted … well, actually there was that one time, but I think we all remember how badly that turned out. In case anyone has forgotten, the astronauts returned to a world dominated by extremely poor acting, apes speaking with British accents, and a shirtless Charleton Heston. And I don’t think anyone wants to see that happen again.
The 2005 report was not the first time that NASA had openly discussed the high levels of radiation that exist beyond the Van Allen belts. In February 2001, the space agency posted a ‘debunking’ article that argued that the rocks allegedly brought back from the Moon were so distinctive in nature that they proved definitively that man had gone to the Moon. The problem though with maintaining a lie of the magnitude of the Moon landing lie is that there is always the danger that in defending one part of the lie, another part will be exposed. Such was the case with NASA’s ill-conceived The Great Moon Hoax post, in which it was acknowledged that what are referred to as “cosmic rays” have a tendency to “constantly bombard the Moon and they leave their fingerprints on Moon rocks.”
NASA scientist David McKay explained that “There are isotopes in Moon rocks, isotopes we don’t normally find on Earth, that were created by nuclear reactions with the highest-energy cosmic rays.” The article went on to explain how “Earth is spared from such radiation by our protective atmosphere and magnetosphere. Even if scientists wanted to make something like a Moon rock by, say, bombarding an Earth rock with high energy atomic nuclei, they couldn’t. Earth’s most powerful particle accelerators can’t energize particles to match the most potent cosmic rays, which are themselves accelerated in supernova blastwaves and in the violent cores of galaxies.”
So one of the reasons that we know the Moon rocks are real, you see, is because they were blasted with ridiculously high levels of radiation while sitting on the surface of the Moon. And our astronauts, one would assume, would have been blasted with the very same ridiculously high levels of radiation, but since this was NASA’s attempt at a ‘debunking’ article, they apparently would prefer that you don’t spend too much time analyzing what they have to say.
How exactly are we to reconcile NASA’s current position on space radiation with the same agency’s simultaneous claim that we have already sent men to the Moon? There are a few different possibilities that come to mind, the first of which is that, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we simply threw caution to the wind and sent our boys off to the Moon with no protection whatsoever from space radiation. If that were true, however, then the question that would naturally be raised is: why not just do it again? After all, all of our Moonwalkers made it home safe and sound and most all have lived long, healthy, cancer-free lives. So why all the fuss over space radiation?
NASA could, I suppose, take the position that space radiation is a recent problem. Perhaps in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, space was relatively free of radiation, allowing unshielded Apollo rockets to cruise about without a care in the world while crew members primarily busied themselves with such important tasks as trying to capture all the stems and seeds that were floating around the command module as a result of cleaning their stash of low-grade ‘60s marijuana. It was just a different solar system back in those days. As aging hippies like to say, if you remember the solar system of the sixties, you weren’t really flying around in it.
If it proves not to be the case that this space radiation “showstopper” is a new development, then I suppose that the only explanation that we are left with is that we did indeed have the technology to shield our astronauts from radiation back in the 1960s, but at some time during the last four decades, that technology was simply lost. What probably happened was that an overzealous night custodian simply threw the data away. The conversation around the NASA water cooler the next day probably went something like this: “Holy shit! Has anyone seen that folder that I left on my desk last night? It contained the only copy of the secret formula that I devised for building a weightless space radiation shield. It could be forty years or more before someone else can duplicate it! My ass is so fired!”
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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon
Award winning filmmaker Bart Sibrel presents his highly acclaimed (and much hated) controversial documentary showcasing newly discovered behind-the-scenes out-takes from the first mission to the moon, proving that the crew never left earth orbit.