“Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation.” These were the words Buzz Aldrin used to describe his view of the Moon to the Houston Space Centre when he, along with Neil Armstrong, became one of the first people to walk on the Earth’s only natural satellite on 20 July 1969. This mission has left an unprecedented mark in history, an indelible reminder of what humankind can do with continuous strife. However, this great event has been subjected to scepticism by theorists. They believe that the mortal witnessing of the apparent magnificence of celestial desolation is an intricately fabricated lie; that it never actually happened.
The beginning of the doubts regarding the moon landing can be attributed to Bill Kaysing who was involved with the Apollo Moon missions as a Rocketdyne technical writer. In 1976, he published his book titled We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle. He introduced and vehemently supported his belief that the Lunar Module Eagle never touched the cratered surface; in actuality, the whole thing was filmed in a TV studio. According to him, NASA did not possess the technical prowess to carry out an assignment of this gauge. His scientist coworkers from Rocketdyne stated that even though the rocket could be sent to the moon, there would still be technical complications in bringing it back - for which the US did not yet have a solution. The probability of conducting the mission successfully was calculated by him to be 0.017%. He even claimed to have access to secret government documents, which gave a certain credibility to his assertions.
Photographic material was examined and presented considerable ‘evidence’. People pointed towards the absence of stars in the pictures, even though the lack of pollution would aid it, and the astronauts constantly commented on the starry sights in front of them. The craters expected from the Module engine were not visible and the crosshairs seem to be behind objects, making theorists think that they were painted. In the videos ( which are considered to be deliberately low quality so that they couldn’t be examined ), the American flag is waving in what is supposed to be a vacuum. Theorists also speculate over the size and shape of the shadows, proposing the use of artificial lighting. The proof collected has been massive.
At the time of the mission, the USA and Russia had been involved in the Cold War. Many believe that to deal a soft power move on the latter by surpassing it in the Space Race, the former resorted to staging the historic event. John F. Kennedy’s 1961 statement of the goal of landing a man on the Moon by the end of the decade also had to achieve fruition as soon as possible so as to not be humiliated. Some also believe that the landing was faked so as to raise funds for the space administration agency while others think it was to divert attention from the Johnson administration's role in the Vietnam War.
The conspiracy has gained significant attention in the pop culture arena. Capricorn One (1978) and Interstellar (2014) are some famous movies that had plots inspired by the hoax. One of the most interesting conjectures was that Stanley Kubrick was involved with the whole episode because of the convincing space-like setup in his 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). It is widely believed that he references his participation in the hoax in The Shining (1980) like through Danny’s Apollo 11 sweater. Even the former American President Bill Clinton confessed in his biography about being dubious over the moon landing.
Now, these theories have been debunked by a lot of people. For example, by the Mythbusters. They have also been vehemently contradicted by Rick Fienberg, American Astronomical Society’s Press Officer, who even debated with Bill Kaysing on TV. NASA has released information to help put an end to these speculations. However, they refuse to cease. The level of notoriety they have attained, and the intrigue they promise makes it impossible for them to be forgotten. As Dan Brown said in The Da Vinci Code, “Everyone loves a conspiracy.”