Discussion of Report by "Weekly World News"

A Persuasive Writing Exercise

Moon Landing Hoax by NASA

Click here for a STEM exercise.

On March 5, 1991 grocery store check-out magazine displays featured a pulp paper headline, "MOON LANDING WAS A HOAX."

Sub headings were:

"We never went!," "NASA made $30 billion movie to fool the world," "Greatest Movie Ever Made Fools 5 Billion People!," and "Stunning proof! Lunar mission was staged in Nevada desert."

Analysis of each of the points listed in the "Weekly World News" lead story serves as an interesting educational exercise in understanding space technology, astronomy, photography, and history. Major points of evidence set forth by the "Weekly World News" include:

* Moon rocks contain only minerals common on Earth, indicating that the astronauts never left Earth. (The elements and compounds are native to the entire solar system not only Earth.)

* Moon rocks contained oxygen, and there is no oxygen on the Moon, indicating the Moon rocks were made on Earth, not collected from the Moon. (Some planetary geologists believe the Moon was once part of the Earth.)

* If the astronauts had reached the Moon, they would have signaled Earth with silver foil or a laser device in the same fashion a downed flyer might signal rescuers. This was an attractive publicity approach that NASA could not have failed to do if they really put men on the Moon. (Astronauts did signal Earth by electromagnetic radiation, radio and T.V., much better communicators to millions on Earth than lasers. Imagine trying to see a laser radiating from 220, 000 miles away. Very sensitive instruments would be required to detect the divergent return beam from the distance of the Moon, even though lasers are much less divergent than an extremely powerful floodlight.)

* Though NASA information is not classified, it is not available to the public. People involved in the program withheld information from the public. (The cover-up would have to have been shared by some 35,000 NASA employees and thousands of supporting companies who worked on the Apollo Project.)

* The astronaut space suits were not designed to protect them from the extreme lunar temperatures which reach 250 degrees F in sunlight and -250 degrees F at night. (The NASA designers in the Crew System's Division at the Manned Spacecraft Center as insiders, as well as Hamilton Standard, manufacturer of the suit, as well as all the suppliers of suit hardware, which was subjected to thermal vacuum tests of the extremes mentioned above, are also in on the hoax if the "World News'" contention is correct.)

* Astronauts going beyond Earth's atmosphere experience a radiation belt which "burns one to a crisp." (Obviously, all the astronauts as well as cosmonauts who leave Earth's atmosphere are subject to this "solar microwave" belt which "burns one to a crisp," and we have countless staged missions by the likes of Gagarin, Glenn, and others who never went to the Moon but experienced these radiation belts beyond Earth's atmosphere orbiting the Earth. Indeed radiation does exisit, but the design of spacecraft and space suits protects humans from the detrimental effects of such radiation. However, the "World" states,

"Astronauts who merely orbit Earth don't encounter these belts and return unharmed." What space probes has the "World" launched which provide this unusual environmental data about a space "microwave oven" ?)

* No stars appear in the pictures supposedly taken from the Moon, and without atmosphere the stars should have readily appeared in photos of space taken on the Moon. (Study of the atmospheric transmission bands of visible light reaching Earth's surface indicates photos taken at night on Earth should show stars as well. Yet, they don't. You can try this yourself with your own camera.

The atmosphere permits visible light to reach us from stars. Doesn't the "Weekly World News" know the Sun is a star. The photos taken from the Moon didn't show the Sun either. Most Earth photos also lack a view of the Sun too, as the extreme brightness is too large compared to the reflected light from Earth scenes. Earth photos taken at night usually don't show stars either, unless a telescope and a time exposure picture is taken with brighter Earth objects shielded from the camera. But the greatest cause for the absence of stars in the Apollo astronauts photos is the depth of field or focus setting of each lunar snapshot. Even lunar rocks are out of focus, appearing blurred though only hundreds of feet away. The nearest star is more than 5 light years distance which would be a bit out of focus compared to the distant lunar terrain.)

* NASA has not provided photos which relate the Moon to other planets besides the Earth because such photos would be all but impossible to fake. (Has the "World News" ever visited a planetarium where such photos and simulations are an everyday happening? "National Geographic" [Vol. 138, No.2, August 1970, p. 184.] features a very beautiful photo taken from an Earth telescope of the surface of the Moon with Saturn and its rings moving across the lunar horizon. Of course the Apollo crews had no 24" telescope to take such shots to refute the "World News" contentions.)

* Pictures taken from the Moon of Earth show the Earth as much too small as it relates to the Moon's horizon. (A little lesson in photography would answer this challenge. The photographic technology of wide angle lenses, field of view, focus optics, etc. would demonstrate to the "World News" the photos and relative sizes of Earth, Moon, astronaut, and lunar horizon are no hoax.)

* The landing rocket exhaust would have blown up tons of dust during touchdown, but photos show the surface beneath the lander undisturbed. (This is one of the better accusations because it requires insight into the laws of gas expansion and particle collision in a vacuum. It makes a fascinating study for student and engineer alike. However, study of the surface beneath the lunar landers does exhibit a disturbed nature, disturbed as one might disturb a heap of dust with a leaf blower. The surface is blown quite smooth by the exhaust of the descent engine, as would be expected.)

* Finally, the "Weekly World News" provides pictures supposedly from the faked movie showing astronauts working adjacent to the lander with "girders carelessly shown" overhead. This is attributed to the fact that the landing was staged in a studio facility in Nevada. (Study of the photo shows it to be one of a training simulation for Apollo astronauts. Such a picture should show girders overhead as it was done in a building on Earth. Examination of other photos in the "Weekly World News" expose shows not only the lunar lander in the "girder" photo but also the lander in actual lunar pictures. Study of the lander in both settings reveals differences. Photos of the lander on the Moon show the reflective foil-like thermal covering on the lunar lander exterior. The photo of the Apollo lunar mockup (girder photo) has a naked lander with no foil-like thermal reflectance material covering the vehicle.)

(Additionally, affixed to the Apollo 11 lander, Eagle, on its descent ladder and strut was a plaque which read, "We came in peace for all mankind." The mockup lander in the simulator has no such plaque while photos of the actual Apollo 11 show the plaque.)

* The "Weekly World News" indicates in its feature sub heading, "Greatest movie ever made fooled 5 billion people!" (At the time of the lunar landing, July of 1969, there were not 5 billion people on Earth. The population was approximately 3.7 billion then.)


1. As an exercise devise other arguments to refute the contention of the "Weekly World News" that the lunar landing was not staged as a hoax.

2. As a further exercise conceive arguments which might support the "Weekly World News" story of NASA performing a hoax which fooled the Earth's inhabitants.

Example: a photo taken by one Apollo crewman at lunar lift-off shows the American flag waving in a breeze. The contention is that a flag cannot wave in a vacuum where there is no atmosphere to provide wind. This would support the theory that the landing was staged in Earth's atmosphere. Can you explain why the flag is waving at lift-off from the Moon?

Still Another Theory Shown Below


Perhaps, this is what Armstrong and Aldrin encountered on the Moon?

Fact or Fiction?

For Additional Information

The popular television program Mythbusters debunked several Moon-Hoaxers' contentions that NASA faked lighting on Earth to simulate men on the Moon. Click here for a clip from Muthbusters disproving their contentions. Now click here for another.

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