with VideoMoon landing deniers have been called out before. But rarely in the House of Representatives and rarely as funny as Geert Wilders did this week with Thierry Baudet. “I think you’re already well on your way to the moon.”
But where does it come from, that frozen disbelief in one of the greatest events in space history? Because Baudet is of course not the first to support the conspiracy theory surrounding the moon landings. Ever since the first Apollo moon landings, which took place between 1969 and 1972, rumors arose in circles of people who already had little faith in the government and who were sure that the American space agency NASA and the American government had screwed up.
There were curious interpretations of the images: stars were said to be missing from the decor, the lighting and shadows around the flag were not correct, nor was the fluttering of the flag. Stars and Stripes – the American flag – on the moon’s surface. That flag had a side stick at the top to prevent it from hanging limply along the stick, and therefore appeared to be fluttering. Furthermore, no stars were visible, because they can only be seen from the moon when the sun has set, while the landing took place during the day. Anyway, conspiracy theorists don’t believe it.
Experts and scientists have been trying to inform the deniers for decades, but anyone who has launched themselves as a space expert based on their own sources naturally knows better. This also applies to American basketball star Stephen Curry, who a few years ago told his millions of fans that the moon landing had never happened.
When asked for an explanation, Curry also made the popular claim among conspiracy theorists that American film director Stanley Kubrick had staged the whole thing for unsuspecting television viewers. Supporters of the Kubrick theory claim that the maker of the classic space film A space odyssey (1968) would have used special effects to create supposedly realistic images of the moon landing. That would have been necessary to trump the Russians in the race to the moon in the middle of the Cold War.
A few years ago, Kubrick’s daughter once again expressed her bewilderment at the persistence of the nonsense. That was fueled again twenty years ago Operation lunea witty French faux-documentary by director William Karel, also known as Dark Side of the Moon. Many conspiracy theorists think as they please and believe that the fake documentary is real.
Moon skeptic Stephen Curry was invited by NASA to view hundreds of pounds of moon rocks collected by Apollo. NASA opened all doors and wanted to show him that the moon landings were an achievement that no other country could match at the time. And for those who don’t want to believe the Americans: all Apollo missions were independently monitored by Great Britain and the then Soviet Union, respectively the US’s closest ally and biggest rival in the 1960s and 1970s.
London and Moscow sent congratulatory letters after the moon landings. “In the midst of a heated space race, the Russians would have called our bluff if the landings had not actually happened,” a NASA spokesman explained to Curry, who has since wisely remained silent on space travel. And then of course there was the retort from Edwin Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon who was chased by a conspiracy theorist with a Bible that he had to swear to was real. Buzz refused, the man called him a liar and saw stars after being hit in the jaw. Later the astronaut explained that he was now done with conspiracy theorists: “They are only trying to become known themselves.”
With their photos of the journey to the moon, the astronauts of Apollo 17 provided another painful observation for other conspiracy theorists: the roundness of the earth. In fact, NASA put humans on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972, a total of twelve astronauts on the lunar surface. It was the only space agency to successfully conduct a manned mission to the moon. After a request from former President Donald Trump, NASA is working on plans for a new manned mission in the future.
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