Apollo Moon landing hoax claims

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The Apollo Moon landing hoax or simply Moon hoax is a generalized name for the conspiracy theory that the Project Apollo Moon landings were falsified by NASA and the U.S. government. Since the Apollo program, a number of Moon hoax accounts have been advanced by various groups and individuals. They generally make three related claims:

  1. that the Apollo astronauts did not set foot on the Moon;
  2. that NASA and others intentionally deceived the public into believing the landings did occur by manufacturing, destroying, or tampering with evidence, including photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, and rock samples;
  3. that the deception continues to this day.

No mainstream scientist, engineer, astronomer, politician, government employee, or public figure, however, has ever embraced these claims, and they are widely disbelieved by the vast majority of the American people. A 1999 Gallup poll, for instance, found that 89% of the U.S. public believed the landings were genuine, while 6% did not, and 5% were undecided.[1]

Hoax proponents claim that NASA had to fake the Moon landings because of the serious technical obstacles that could not be overcome during the seven-year deadline that President Kennedy had established in 1962 for making a manned landing on the Moon. [2] One proponent, Bill Kaysing, wrote, "What actually happened in my mind, is during 60s, they said 'If you can't make it, fake it.'"[3]

Origins and history of the theory

The first book dedicated to the subject, by technical publications editor Bill Kaysing, the self-published We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, was released in 1974, two years after the Apollo Moon flights had ceased. Folklorist Linda Degh suggests that writer-director Peter Hyams's 1978 film Capricorn One, which depicts a hoaxed journey to Mars in a spacecraft that looks identical to the Apollo craft, may have given a boost to the hoax theory's popularity in the post-Vietnam War. She notes that this occurred during the post-Watergate era, when segments of the American public were disinclined to trust official accounts.[4] In A Man on the Moon, published in 1994, Andrew Chaikin mentions that at the time of Apollo 8's lunar-orbit mission in December 1968 similar conspiracy ideas were already in circulation.

Arguments of the hoax proponents include both interpretations of political motives and some technical arguments. Certain of the proponents make some general comments, and then say the burden of proof is on NASA.[5]

To summarize some of the more specific arguments, a common allegation is that the photographs of astronauts on the Moon do not show stars. This simply shows a misunderstanding of the contrast range that photographic film will accept. If, on Earth, a picture is taken of a person under a streetlight at night, showing their face, there will be no stars in the sky, as they are too dim to be recorded. If the Moon were in that image, as a rock reflecting direct sunlight, it would be likely to appear.

There are arguments, without detail, that the U.S. military used electronic warfare to jam the telemetry intelligence capability of Soviet intelligence ships offshore. The problem with this belief is that countries trying to protect telemetry do it with encryption, not jamming in the immediate launch area; to jam it would be to jeopardize their own use of the telemetry.

Arguments were made that the ground photography of the takeoff did not give evidence of speed and position, yet this is a routine technique of electro-optical tracking used by NASA and the U.S. Air Force, for surveillance up to and including objects in near earth orbit. The U.S. routinely flies RC-135 COBRA BALL aircraft that use electro-optical methods to track ballistic missiles.

Public opinion

There are certain subcultures around the world that advocate the belief that the Moon landings were faked. James Oberg of ABC News has said that notion that the Moon landings were faked is actively taught in Cuban schools and wherever Cuban teachers are sent.[6][7] Officials for Fox television stated that "Moon skeptics" were about 20% after the airing on 15 February 2001 of their TV show entitled Conspiracy theory: Did we land on the Moon?. Seen by approximately 15 million viewers,[8] the 2001 Fox special is viewed as having promoting the hoax claims.[9][10]

In 2009, a poll conducted by the British Engineering & Technology magazine found that 25% of Britons do not believe that man has walked on the Moon.[11]

Major proponents of hoax theories

There are a number of Russian proponents of hoax theories. The best-known American proponent is Bill Kaysing.

William Charles Kaysing (1922 – 2005) graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in English and, from 1957 to 1963, worked in technical publications at Rocketdyne,[12] the company that subsequently built the F-1 engines used on the Saturn V rocket. By this time, however, Kaysing had already left Rocketdyne to become a freelance writer, living on houseboats and producing books about healthy eating. [13]

In 1974 Kaysing released his self-published book We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle,[14] beginning the Moon hoax movement. There were specific criticisms of his work. [15]


  1. The complete poll can be found at [1]
  2. Address at Rice University on the nation's space effort, President John F. Kennedy, Houston, Texas, 12 September 1962
  3. BigMantra.com, 25 March 2008
  4. The wrong stuff by Rogier van Bakel, Wired.com, September 1994
  5. Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories. BBC Science. British Broadcasting Corporation (28 January 2010). Retrieved on 9 October 2013.
  6. Getting Apollo 11 right, ABC News, July 1999
  7. Fake Moon flight myth by James Oberg, 2003
  8. Book to confirm Moon landings by Seth Borenstein, Deseret News, 2 November 2002
  9. Burkeman, Oliver. It's official - US did land on moon, The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 November 2002. Retrieved on 9 October 2013.
  10. American beat: Moon stalker, Newsweek, 16 September 2002
  11. Britons question Apollo 11 Moon landings, survey reveals, Engineering & Technology, 8 July 2009
  12. Clavius: Bibliography – Bill Kaysing
  13. Biography, The Bill Kaysing Tribute Website, 27 September 2007
  14. We never went to the Moon: America's thirty billion dollar swindle by Bill Kaysing, Health research books, 2002, ISBN 1-85810-422-X
  15. Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" by Philip Plait, John Wiley & Sons, 2002, ISBN 0-471-40976-6, chapter 17