The 11 Most Ridiculous Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories

In honor of the 45th anniversary of the stupendous Apollo 11 mission, which, yes, actually delivered two astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, to the surface of the Moon, let's debunk the top 10 theories that claim to prove the landing was a hoax.
Publish date:
Social count:
In honor of the 45th anniversary of the stupendous Apollo 11 mission, which, yes, actually delivered two astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, to the surface of the Moon, let's debunk the top 10 theories that claim to prove the landing was a hoax.

Rasmussen released the results of a poll on Monday showing that 23 percent of Americans believe President Obama wasn't born in the United States. By itself, that number isn't too shocking. But when you add the percentage of people who "aren't sure" whether the president was born here, the total climbs up to a disturbing 40 percent. Come to think of it, those numbers aren't disturbing, they're perverse.

In an age when information is so readily available, you'd think that ease-of-access to a universe of facts would breed a more informed, less gullible and, let's face it, less stupid public. Nope, it hasn't really worked out like that. The internet appears to have merely served as a bottomless cup of confirmation bias in support of all varieties of ridiculous conspiracy theories, from the existence of testosterone-sapping juice boxes to weather weapons to chemtrails to, yes, the spritzing of vinegar on chemtrails to make them vanish. In fairness, it's not just the internet, by the way. Formerly respectable networks like Discovery and History Channel are now the homes to popular shows about bigfoot, "ancient aliens" and ghost hunting.

One of the many conspiracy theories that's flourished online is the alleged staging of the Apollo 11 Moon-landing inside a Hollywood studio. Simply put, the over-arching conspiracy theory suggests that instead of going to the Moon, the U.S. government hired a Hollywood director to stage the entire thing right here on Earth where NASA would pass it off to the American public as a legitimate achievement.

The whole thing from top to bottom is a great big pile of horseshit.

So, in honor of the 45th anniversary of the stupendous Apollo 11 mission, which, yes, actually delivered two astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, to the surface of the Moon (Michael Collins manned the orbiting command module), then returned them safely to Earth, let's debunk the top 11 theories that claim to prove the landing was a hoax.

1) President Nixon was behind the hoax.

It's easy to make Nixon the villain in any scenario because Nixon, in general, was a villain. Yes, he was president during all of the Apollo missions that landed on the Moon. But the Apollo missions didn't begin when he was elected nor did the program end because Nixon left office in disgrace -- there simply wasn't enough congressional support to continue funding it.

2) The American flag appears to flutter in the breeze, but there's no breeze on the Moon.

This one might be the dumbest of the litter. The only time the flag moves is when Armstrong and Aldrin are planting it on the surface. The top seam of the flag contained an aluminum rod that was designed keep the flag permanently taut, so when the flag was being set up, the aluminum rod moved with the motion of the astronauts adjusting the flag pole. With very little gravity on the Moon, the movement of flag continues briefly after the pole is planted. Additionally, the poor quality of some of the film and video footage gives the illusion of movement due to distortion and interlacing.

3) There isn't a starfield in the photos.


You know how we'd know for sure the Moon landing was staged? If there were stars in the photos. This would prove that the stars were artificially created in a studio, bright enough to match the brightness of the Moon's surface as it reflected the harsh daylight. In order to capture detailed photos in such bright sunlight, the astronauts used an extremely fast shutter speed and a nearly closed F-stop. There's no way to photograph the surface with a proper exposure. Here's an experiment you can use to totally freak out your conspiracy theorist friends. Borrow the highest quality camera you can find. Wait for a full Moon, then try to photograph the Moon with the highest level of detail and resolution possible, capturing all of the surface features. Then check to see if there's a vivid star field all around it. I bet there won't be.

4) The shadows are angled differently indicating studio lighting.


There are several photos in which theorists have noting this phenomenon, but nope, all of the shadows are cast at the same angle, yet they merely look differently due to the perspective of the camera and the rugged topography of the Moon's surface.


5) The lunar module (LEM) doesn't produce any jet of flames when it launches back into orbit to rendezvous with the command module.

Anyone who's really, really into science fiction knows that fire can't exist in the vacuum of space. It requires oxygen. By the way, there isn't any blast crater because due to the low gravity on the Moon, the level of thrust required to land and launch the module is much less than it would be on Earth.

6) The LEM doesn't make any sound as it descends to the surface.

No air. No sound.

7) The astronauts were attached to harnesses or filmed in slow motion.

The harness effect might come close to duplicating the appearance of weightlessness, but the slow motion trick is impossible. Why? In order to shoot something in slow motion in 1969, you needed film. Even today, there's no technology available to shoot everything on film at a normal speed/framerate, then, for the hopping and running on the Moon, to overcrank the camera to 48 frames-per-second, then to drop it back to the normal 24-frames-per-second when the hopping was done, then to transfer all of that footage on-the-fly to 10 frames-per-second, which was the frame rate of the live Apollo 11 television footage. (By the way, the reason why the live footage looked like hell was because the networks shot their video coverage directly from live television screens at NASA, not unlike the old kinescope process.)

8) If Neil Armstrong was the first man on the Moon, who the hell filmed him stepping onto the surface?

Obviously there was a video camera deployed from the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly on the outside of the LEM to shoot Armstrong's famous descent on the ladder to the surface.

9) There's something called the Van Allen radiation belt and if the astronauts had passed through it while on the way to the Moon, they would've been exposed to deadly levels of radiation.

150-200 REMs is dangerous to the human body. But the astronauts were only subjected to around 1 REM during the Apollo missions.

10) Why can't we see the landing site with a telescope?!

We can! It's possible to bounce lasers from Earth to the Apollo 11, 14 and 15 landing sites where the astronauts placed special retroreflectors. Yes, the lasers reflect back. Also, there are numerous photographs taken by lunar orbiters and telescopes of the LEM and other equipment left behind.


11) Stanley Kubrick was the filmmaker and he dropped hints in The Shining!

And finally, NO! Stanley Kubrick didn't film the fake Moon landing. There was a fun documentary about The Shining not too long ago in which the filmmaker debunked these clever "hints" about Apollo 11. Such as... this one!


Crazy! But totally coincidental.

None of the facts matter, of course, because conspiracy theorist will believe anything they want to believe irrespective of facts and objective reality. Worse yet are the scam-artists on the internet, television and radio who exploit the paranoia of these people for fun and profit, whether it's the latest "false flag" conspiracy or the ever-lengthening list of 9/11 Truth conspiracies.