Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first two humans on the Moon. Mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American, landed the lunar module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56:15 UTC; Aldrin joined him about 20 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Michael Collins piloted the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon’s surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent just under a day on the lunar surface before rendezvousing with Columbia in lunar orbit.
Since Neil Armstrong the first man to walk on the Moon in 1969, conspiracy theorists have proposed that the landing was faked. They point to photographs showing the American flag blowing in the breeze, despite there being no atmosphere and the fact that astronauts shadows do not match the lunar module light source.
- Why is flag waving when there is no atmosphere on moon?
This is one of the biggest claims waved around by conspiracy fanatics. When the U.S. flag was placed by Armstrong and Aldrin and recorded by the TV camera they’d previously set up, it appears to be waving in a non-existent lunar breeze. But there’s no atmosphere on the Moon, how can there be a breeze to blow a flag around?
This isn’t proof of location on a Disney sound stage in Burbank. The flag isn’t “waving,” it’s swinging. The flag was constructed specially for the moon’s surface. A taut wire runs through the fabric along its top, allowing it to stand erect like a windswept flag on Earth. Without the wire, the flag would droop like any other flag hanging in space. The astronauts simply cause the flapping themselves by struggling to plant the flagpole into the ground and bumping it around.
The flag wasn’t fluttering because there was a breeze. Not only had the astronauts just unrolled it, but they were also twisting the flag pole back and forth to dig it deeper into the lunar soil, so that it wouldn’t fall over.
- If there’s no atmosphere on the Moon, where are the stars in the photos?
One of the claims made to support the hoax theory is that there were no stars pictured from the surface of the Moon. But this is because the Moon is very bright, reflecting a lot of the Sun’s light. There are no stars because the cameras couldn’t pick them up.
Daytime on the Moon is about two Earth weeks long. All the Apollo surface EVAs took place on the side facing Earth during the lunar daytime. This means that the Sun was in the sky, illuminating the surface and everything the astronauts were doing… including taking pictures. So even though there was no atmosphere above them, the astronauts still had to expose their cameras to account for a very bright lunar landscape (and in some instances with a very big white star we call the Sun in the sky.) They were there to explore the Moon, not the stars, and so they didn’t waste any film taking astrophotos.
If you took pictures outside at night, and let your camera adjust for a well-lit object or scene, even if there was a sky full of stars above you at the time they wouldn’t be visible in your picture. It’s just how cameras work—they simply can’t adjust like your eyes do.
- Who Took The Pictures?
One of the frequent claims is that the Apollo 11 mission included images of the two astronauts with no obvious cameraman. National Geographic channel explains that was because there were cameras in the chests of both astronauts’ suits, and on the Lander.
- The shadows in the photos were uneven
This is due to bad knowledge of Physics. This is another of the ‘more than one light source’ arguments. Shadows from different objects pointing in different directions is not only due to perspective, but also due to different angles of the terrain. The lunar lander and the rocks have shadows that point in different directions, but the lander is on flat ground and the rocks are on a small rise.
- These Two Pictures Match
In 2008 the Japanese Selene probe obtained photographic evidence of the Moon landings, by comparing the image on the left (from the Apollo 15 landing) taken in July 1971 to its own 3D terrain camera images. They were exactly the same.
- Radiation would have killed the astronauts en route to the Moon.
Radiation in space is very dangerous. Nobody’s contesting that fact. Even a thickly-hulled spacecraft can allow in enough cosmic radiation to damage living DNA over long durations, and outside of Earth’s protective magnetosphere it becomes an even bigger danger. This in fact is still a major obstacle to overcome if we’re to send humans to Mars or beyond. But the Apollo astronauts weren’t on a year-long voyage to Mars, they were on week-long trips to the Moon. Even the Van Allen belts, which concentrate energetic particles from the Sun into donut-shaped rings surrounding Earth, were passed through pretty quickly by the Apollo spacecraft on their way Moonward.
A pretty clear explanation is given by astronomer Phil Plait in his 2001:
“The van Allen belts are regions above the Earth’s surface where the Earth’s magnetic field has trapped particles of the solar wind. An unprotected man would indeed get a lethal dose of radiation, if he stayed there long enough. Actually, the spaceship traveled through the belts pretty quickly, getting past them in an hour or so. There simply wasn’t enough time to get a lethal dose, and, as a matter of fact, the metal hull of the spaceship did indeed block most of the radiation.”
Now, had the Apollo astronauts been in the way of a strong solar flare event while on the lunar surface, it would have been a different story. Protected only by their space suits, they could have received a lethal dose of solar radiation very quickly as a cloud of particles swept past the Earth and Moon. Luckily that didn’t happen, but it was an occupational hazard. (Although compared to the countless other dangers they confronted in order to achieve their goals that was somewhat low on the list.)
- We didn’t have the technology in the 60s to go to the Moon.
This is a total cop-out argument. Yes, 1960s technology was far inferior to what we have today; even our cell phones contain vastly more computing power than what was aboard the Apollo spacecraft. But the Apollo spacecraft only had to know how to do one thing: get living, breathing astronauts to the Moon and back. This was achieved through complex engineering and the efforts of many thousands of the brightest minds in the country, not to mention a few fearless astronauts who knew a thing or two about flying experimental aircraft. Getting to the Moon was a case of pure physics, dedication, and guts… the required innovations just came as a direct result.
Also as a technical note, the circuitry and components of Apollo spacecraft were relatively enormous by today’s standards—they literally were big enough to avoid getting knocked offline by stray atomic particles. These days we have to take much more care shielding sensitive space electronics from radiation. (Thanks to spacecraft software engineer Emory Stagmer for the info.)
- If human really landed on moon, then why didn’t others try after it?
The world remembers the one who came first and not the second or third. So, even others didn’t want to achieve it. So no one tried later. The Apollo program was closed down, the technology to send humans to the Moon was retired. The Saturn V rockets were either dismantled, put in museums, or, in the case of Skylab, used in other programs, and eventually all of the special components created by contractors and sub-contractors that allowed the success of Saturn and Apollo were no longer available or in production. We didn’t lose the technology, as some have claimed, we just stopped making it, at least for those specific uses. As times changed, priorities (and thus budgets) changed, and NASA’s manned spaceflight program of the 60s and early 70s became a thing of the past, in some cases replaced by newer, better goals… but in some cases still not replaced at all.
Credits: Ritesh Mahato