sure we went to the moon 25 years ago? Are you positive? Millions
of Americans believe the moon landings may have been a US$25 billion
swindle, perpetrated by NASA with the latest in communications technology
and the best in special effects. Wired plunges into the combat
zone between heated conspiracy believers and exasperated NASA officials.
he has landed Tranquility Base. Eagle is at Tranquility. I read
you five by. Over." The voice from Houston betrayed no emotion,
although this was anything but business as usual. A human being
was about to set foot on the moon for the first time in history,
armed only with the Stars and Stripes, some scientific instruments,
and an almost reckless, can-do demeanor that had captivated the
The reply from
Columbia, the command-and-service module that had released the lunar
lander 2 hours and 33 minutes earlier, betrayed only equal professional
cool. "Yes, I heard the whole thing," Michael Collins
it’s a good show."
Neil Armstrong chimed in. "Yeah, I’ll second that," said
the 38-year-old astronaut, the moonwalker-to-be, America’s own Boy
Scout, and the most famous man in the – well, in the universe.
And even though the static ate away at the clarity of his consonants,
Armstrong’s sneering tone came through loud and clear. The mission
control man heard it too. And he knew what was coming. Sort of.
show," Armstrong said. "The greatest show on earth, huh,
There was a
moment’s silence. Then a cameraman sniggered. And the director sighed,
and did what directors do when actors screw up their lines. "Cut,"
he groaned. He was a heavyset man in his 50s, and the combination
of the long hours and the hot studio lights had started to get to
Armstrong, if you’re gonna be a smart-ass, do it on your own time,
all right? We got 25 tired people on this set. We got a billion
people who are going to be watching your every move only a week
from now. We’re on deadline here. Now, do you suppose you could
just stick to the script and get it over with? Thank you."
stepped forward with the slate. "Apollo moon landing, scene
769/A22, take three," she announced.
he has landed Tranquility Base," the mission control man began
books lie. So do the encyclopedias and the commemorative videos
and the 25-year-old coffee mugs with the proudly smiling faces of
Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins. When Armstrong
got down from that ladder, proclaiming that it was only a small
step for him but a giant leap for mankind, he was merely setting
foot on a dust-covered sound stage in a top-secret TV studio in
the Nevada desert. NASA’s cold warriors and spin doctors faked the
whole moon landing. Come to think of it, they faked all six moon
landings – spending around US$25 billion to prove to the world that
not even the Soviets, especially not the Soviets, could hold a candle
to the US when it came to space exploration.
Well, at least,
that’s the view of writer Bill Kaysing. It’s also the conviction
of millions of Americans who have learned to distrust their government
with a passion. Most of these skeptics don’t even appear to be steamed
about the alleged superfraud. They shrug and raise their palms and
go about their business. Not Kaysing. He seems to have never heard
a conspiracy theory he didn’t like, and this one tops ‘em all. For
almost 20 years now, he has been trying to get out "the most
electrifying news story of the entire 20th century and possibly
of all time." He has written a book aptly titled We
Never Went to the Moon and won’t give up trying to uncover
white-haired, gentle Californian whose energy level seems mercifully
untouched by his 72 years, worked as head of technical publications
for the Rocketdyne Research Department at their Southern California
facility from 1956 to 1963. Rocketdyne was the engine contractor
couldn’t make it to the moon, and they knew it," asserts Kaysing,
who, after begging out of the "corporate rat race," became
a freelance author of books and newsletters. "In the late ’50s,
when I was at Rocketdyne, they did a feasibility study on astronauts
landing on the moon. They found that the chance of success was something
like .0017 percent. In other words, it was hopeless." As late
as 1967, Kaysing reminds me, three astronauts died in a horrendous
fire on the launch pad. "It’s also well documented that NASA
was often badly managed and had poor quality control. But as of
’69, we could suddenly perform manned flight upon manned flight?
With complete success? It’s just against all statistical odds."
F. Kennedy wasn’t convinced at all that the endeavor was next to
impossible. In fact, he had publicly announced in May 1961 that
"landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth"
would be a Number One priority for the US, an accomplishment that
was to instill pride in Americans and awe in the rest of the world.
And so, Kaysing believes, NASA faked it, acting in accordance with
the old adage that in a war, the truth is often the first casualty.
(Cold wars, he and his fellow conspiracy believers say, are no exception.)
To hear him
tell it, NASA had good reason to stage moon landing after moon landing,
instead of simply admitting that lunar strolls would have to remain
the stuff of science fiction novels, at least for a while. "They
– both NASA and Rocketdyne – wanted the money to keep
pouring in. I’ve worked in aerospace long enough to know that’s
There is an
almost instinctive rejoinder to all of this: but we saw it.
If television ever had a killer app, the moon landing was it. We
bought new sets in droves, flicked them on as zero hour approached,
and, miraculously, felt ourselves being locked into an intangible
but very real oneness with a billion other people. It was our first
taste of a virtual community, of cultures docking. It felt good.
And now there’s this guy telling us that it was all a lie? C’mon!
His rockets are a little loose. What proof does he have anyway?
out numerous anomalies in NASA publications, as well as in the TV
and still pictures that came from the moon. For example, there are
no stars in many of the photographs taken on the lunar surface.
With no atmosphere to diffuse their light, wouldn’t stars have to
be clearly visible? And why is there no crater beneath the lunar
lander, despite the jet of its 10,000-pound-thrust hypergolic engine?
How do NASA’s experts explain pictures of astronauts on the moon
in which the astronauts’ sides and backs are just as well lit as
the fronts of their spacesuits – which is inconsistent with
the deep, black shadows the harsh sunlight should be casting? And
why is there a line between a sharp foreground and a blurry background
in some of the pictures, almost as if special-effects makers had
used a so-called "matte painting" to simulate the farther
reaches of the moonscape? "It all points to an unprecedented
swindle," Kaysing concludes confidently.
But just how
could NASA possibly have pulled it off? How about the TV pictures
that billions of people saw over the course of six successful missions:
the rocket lifting off from the Cape Kennedy launch pad under the
watchful eye of hundreds of thousands of spectators; the capsule
with the crew returning to earth; the moon rocks; the hundreds,
perhaps thousands, of space-program employees in the know who would
have to be relied upon to take the incredible secret to their graves?
Kaysing. The rockets took off all right, with the astronauts on
board, but as soon as they were out of sight, the roaring spacecraft
set course for the south polar sea, jettisoned its crew, and crashed.
Later, the crew and the command module were put in a military plane
and dropped in the Pacific for "recovery" by an aircraft
carrier. (Kaysing claims that he talked with an airline pilot who,
en route from San Francisco to Tokyo, saw the Apollo 15 command
module sliding out of an unidentified cargo plane, but he can’t
provide the captain’s name or the name of the airline.) The moon
rocks were made in a NASA geology lab, right here on earth, he continues.
Not very many people on the Apollo project knew about the hoax,
as they were only informed on a need-to-know basis. Cash bonuses,
promotions, or veiled threats could have ensured the silence of
those who were in on the whole scheme.
not alone in his assertion that NASA has been, um, mooning the public.
Bill Brian, a 45-year-old Oregonian who authored the 1982 book Moongate,
agrees that there is "some sort of cover-up." Although
Brian thinks that his fellow investigator may very well be right
in saying that we never went to the moon, he believes there is an
entirely different reason for many of the inconsistencies the two
have found. Maybe we did go, Brian says, but it’s possible we reached
the moon with the aid of a secret zero gravity device that NASA
probably reverse-engineered by copying parts of a captured extraterrestrial
spaceship. Brian, who received BS and MS degrees in nuclear engineering
at Oregon State University (although he now holds a job as a policy
and procedures analyst at a utility company), uses his "mathematical
and conceptual skills" to reason that the moon’s gravity is
actually similar to Earth’s, and that most likely, the moon has
an atmosphere after all. He has crammed the appendices of his book
with complex calculations to prove these points, but he trusts his
intuition, too: "The NASA transcripts of the communication
between the astronauts and mission control read as if they’re carefully
scripted. The accounts all have a very strange flavor to them, as
if the astronauts weren’t really there."
But why in
the world would NASA feel compelled to cover up knowledge of a high-gravity
moon? "It’s a cascading string of events," explains Brian.
"You can’t let one bit of information out without blowing the
whole thing. They’d have to explain the propulsion technique that
got them there, so they’d have to divulge their UFO research. And
if they could tap this energy, that would imply the oil cartels
are at risk, and the very structure of our world economy could collapse.
They didn’t want to run that risk."
As this issue
of Wired goes to press, a new book is headed to the stores:
Was It Only a Paper Moon, by Ralph Ren, “a scientist and
patented inventor.” Published by tiny Victoria House Press in New
York, in what it has announced will be a first run of “at least
100,000 copies,” Paper Moon supposedly presents the latest
scientific findings regarding the moon landing. Ren offers data
suggesting, among other things, that without an impractical shield
about two meters thick, the spacemen “would have been cooked by
radiation” during the journey. Ergo, the lunar endeavors were impossible,
and were cynically faked at the expense of gullible people everywhere.
buffs don’t doubt that men walked on the moon but call the fact
irrelevant because extraterrestrials made it there ages ago – and
NASA knows it and has preferred to keep it a secret. In his recent
book, Extra-Terrestrial Archeology, David Childress points
out various unexplained structures on the moon and argues that these
might be archeological remnants of intelligent civilizations. Childress,
an avid believer in UFOs, also doesn’t rule out the possibility
that aliens still use the moon as a base and a convenient stepping
stone for their trips to our planet. This might even mean, enthuses
the author, that the moon is really “a spaceship with an inner metallic-rock
shell beneath miles of dirt and dust and rock.”