Moon Landing - Hoax?

Apollo Eleven

Man landed on the moon in 1969. Apollo 11 carried three astronauts of whom the first to walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong. He uttered the immortal words: "One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind".

That's a matter of established historic fact.

Or is it?

Conspiracy Theory

There are number of investigators who believe that we never took that giant leap in 1969 - some go further and say we still never have. The whole lunar landing was, they say, one giant hoax on mankind.

The accusation is an awesome one - that NASA was complicit in a massive government hoax. The Apollo 11 mission never took off and the lunar landing was instead faked in a secret studio somewhere.

What Is The Evidence?

The main reason some are skeptical of the Apollo 11 story is the photographic record. Detailed analysis of the footage reveals - it is claimed - some inexplicable anomalies. One of those who has done much work in this field is David Percy, co-author of Dark Moon.

The anomalies allegedly visible in the Apollo 11 pictures fall into a number of categories. A major one is the size and position of the shadows - these are said to be wrong. There are also film marks that apparently pass under elements of the photo. Percy believes that some of the photographic clues were inserted by whistleblowers in the hope that they would be found.

Perhaps the most convincing argument is that the photos are just too good. They were supposedly taken by astronauts wearing bulky spacesuits in an unfamiliar, hostile environments - with cameras strapped to their chests! Yet some of the photos are so good that they would take hours to obtain even in a professional photographic studio.

Having been made suspicious by the photographs themselves, some conspiracy theorists go on to question the technical feasibility of the entire mission. Everything from the available computer technology to the Van Allen radiation belt are cited as reasons that the Apollo 11 mission could not have taken place as claimed.


Exposure of such a hoax would undoubtedly have brought the government down and destroyed the careers of all those involved. Why would they take such a massive risk?

The main theory is that Kennedy had committed the US to beating the Soviets to the moon and to doing so before the end of the decade. The mission could not be seen to fail - the national pride of America was at stake. Apollo 11 had to succeed.

So the US government was faced between the choice of a real mission that was almost bound to fail or a hoax that they might just get away with. According to the conspiracy theorists they chose the latter.


All this is, of course, soundly denied by NASA and government officials. All the problems identified with the photographs can be answered. The most important factor is that before Apollo 11 nobody had taken photographs on the moon. A smaller body with no atmosphere and different surface conditions was bound to result in photographs that didn't follow the usual "rules".

Technical arguments concerning the Van Allen belt etc are beyond my realm of knowledge. Suffice to say that for every argument put forward by the conspiracy theorists there is a counter-argument put forward by their opponents.

My Opinion

I have no inside knowledge of the validity or otherwise of this conspiracy theory, however I have been fascinated with the subject ever since seeing David Percy speak at Uncon many years ago. The research I've done leads me to this personal opinion:

The Apollo 11 landing took place. It was not faked. But some of the photographs were.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are just too many inconsistencies in the photographic record of Apollo 11. Yet the idea that the whole mission was faked in a studio is ridiculous. The sheer scale of the conspiracy required would mean that it would have been bound to leak. At the very least the astronauts would have had some sort of "accident" soon after their triumphant "return" to Earth. Governments just aren't that good at keeping such a massive conspiracy quiet for so long.

So what did happen? My personal opinion is that the US government knew that they couldn't afford for Apollo 11 to fail. So some photographs were faked, just in case. Had the spacecraft been destroyed before reaching the moon then the fakes would have been released to suggest that the astronauts actually died after achieving their goal and proving US cold war superiority over the USSR. Later, some of these photos were considered just too good to waste and were slipped into the genuine footage released to the media; with hindsight a massive mistake.

External Links:
NASA: Apollo Missions
Aulis: David Percy