Scientific Methods

Thursday, April 20, 2006


How certain were you that we landed space-craft on the Moon?
How certain were you that we landed men on the moon?
How certain that the NASA photos presented to the world are authentic and unmodified?

I have always taken the lunar landings as a given. Not giving much thought to the whole business, until I watched the video on the Conspiracy Theory... Well, now I was forced to think about it. I must admit, I have never been an admirer of the American way of doing things, so with that in mind, I had to try and stay objective!

Having watched all the videos and browsing numerous web-sites both pro and con the lunar landings, I have come to the following conclusions:

I am pretty certain that "we" did land space-craft on the moon. For where did the moon rocks come from? They have been studied by many specialists from all over the world (presumably not all pro American!), and I couldn’t find one that wasn't convinced that they are the real thing. To laymen like me, the arguments about if the lunar module had really landed on the moon (no blast crater) and subsequently taken off again (no flame) seemed feasible, but the experts have an explanation that I cannot refute. The thrust wasn't directed to any one point long enough to cause a crater and in a vacuum the thrust would have been dispersed quite widely anyway. The fuel used ignites on contact without a flame and also produces transparent fumes. The argument raised about the dust that would have obstructed visibility and made landing impossible, also seems flawed as the lunar modules were landed purely with instruments without requiring visual references.

I am now also pretty certain that there was a man (men) on the moon. The Van Allen radiation belts mentioned by the conspiracy theorists do exist, but what is not mentioned is that prolonged exposure is required for this to be harmful. The estimated four hours it took the Apollo spacecraft to pass through these radiation belts, followed by days of low radiation, allowed the astronauts to recover from possible harmful effects. Lead is also not the best or only material for protection as claimed by the conspiracy theorists; today polyethylene shielding is used to protect the international space station.

The presence of dust and the “perfection” of the footprints were also used to try and prove that the NASA footage was taken on earth and not on the moon. However, on closer analysis it seems logical that that these features actually indicate that the shots were indeed taken on the moon as the puff of dust did not stay suspended for a while as one would expect it to do on earth. In a vacuum, dust would fall down immediately, as it does on the video clips. The “perfection” of the footprints indicates that the dust must have been extremely fine, as it is expected to be on the moon.

The waving flag also sounds convincing initially, but taking into consideration that the flag was supported by a horizontal crossbar, it makes sense that the flag would move and appear to be waving as the astronaut struggled to drive the pole into the lunar soil. In addition, the greatly reduced pull of gravity on the moon would have left creases in the flag, creating the appearance that it was waving in a still photo.

I was quite convinced that the photos were fabricated until I had a look at the explanations given by photographers. The shadows that appear to fall in different directions can be explained by objects being at different slopes and angles. The crosshairs that appear to be behind some objects can be explained as these objects were in each case very bright, which would have “cancelled” out the line creating the impression that the object was in front of the line. If one would look at an enlarged photo, the line is visible in front of the object, but only very faintly.

The objects appearing bright in the shadow have also been explained and demonstrated as well as the background that appears to be the same. And so I have found a feasible answer for all the claims made by the Conspiracy Theory. I am not going to go bore you more by going into their detail… there are enough websites to look it up.

There might be some discrepancies and some photos might have been “improved” and “live” transmissions might have been edited first for better effects, but that does not make the first or subsequent Apollo missions a hoax. In fact I am convinced that these missions were for real. If the Americans did fool the whole world about the exact timing of the first lunar landing (and I believe they might have been tempted to do this if one considers the fierce rivalry and prestige involved), it would be beyond all reason to push their luck and perform the hoax six times, even for the Americans!

Finally the Americans did fulfil the special message by John F. Kennedy to congress even though he did not live to see it. And did the moon landings change the world? Apart from the political impact it had it sure made humankind think “we are capable of achieving anything”!


I base my conclusions from studying the following sites and videos.

Wikipedia contributors. Moon landing [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 Apr 20, 16:04 UTC [cited 2006 Apr 21]. Available from:

Wikipedia contributors. Apollo moon landing hoax accusations [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 Apr 19, 16:54 UTC [cited 2006 Apr 21]. Available from:

Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy site. This page last modified Wednesday, 25-Jan-2006 17:09:29 CST [cited 2006 Apr 20 at 18h25]. Available from:

Moon Base Clavius is an organization of amateurs and professionals devoted to the Apollo program and its manned exploration of the moon. Our special mission is to debunk the so-called conspiracy theories that state such a landing may never have occurred. [cited 2006 Apr 20 at 16h10]. Available from:

Did we land on the moon? Make up your own mind. Made in England. Began August 1999. Updated 15th October 2002. [cited 2006 Apr 20 at 15h31]. Available from:

Website claiming moon landings were a hoax. [cited 2006 Apr 20 at 19h15]. Available from:

Keith Mayes site on Bart Sibrel. Last updated 10/10/03. [cited 2006 Apr 20 at 20h05]. Available from:

Official NASA website bedunking the hoax. [cited 2006 Apr 20]. Available from:

Videos: (The Time of Apollo - National Archives and Records Administration 28 min 29 sec - Jan 1, 1975) (Debrief Apollo 8 1969 National Archives and Records Administration 27 min 19 sec - Feb 11, 2006) television programme called "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?") (NASA- Apollo 11 How did they do it - a reportedly genuine NASA clip accidentally released)

Karen Marais, BCB NISL student, University of the Western Cape