Friday, May 30, 2008

The Moon Landing Hoax: Politics Over Truth?

A very, very good topic for discussion that should not only be reserved to conspiracy theory nuts with paranoid fantasies. Is an open discussion on whether the manned Moon landings are a hoax or not good for our society in general?

By: Vanessa Uy

Though there has not been a consensus yet if NASA’s manned Lunar exploration was filmed in a soundstage in Hollywood or Burbank, this story seems to acquire much stronger mythical powers with every passing year. Most of my older acquaintances – aged 30 to 60 – only knew of the “Moon Landing Hoax” story around the time when the Soviet Union fell, despite of the fact that a move was made about this hoax back in the 1970’s. But before everyone too young to remember the passing of Kurt Cobain makes their own judgement on the matter, lets review first the most often used evidence by the conspiracy buffs justifying that the manned Moon landings were a hoax.

NASA’s manned Apollo program that enabled American astronauts to land on the Moon lasted from 1969 to 1972, and yet there are a growing number of people who believe that this didn’t actually happen, and they have evidence on this. The most oft quoted evidence pointed out by conspiracy theorists is that the American flag / Old Glory billowing and rippling as if blown by a breeze in the Lunar vacuum. NASA officials explained this phenomenon is caused by Buzz Aldrin’s handling of the flag and when the upper half of the Lunar Excursion Module fired it’s escape rockets for the return trip to Earth, its exhaust did billow the flag then toppled it. And also the rocket’s exhaust didn’t produce a flame-like jet is because there’s no air on the Moon for the exhaust to heat-up.

The camera crosshairs being obscured by distant Lunar features is due to the quirks of old style chemical-based photography that allowed these features to bleed over like overexposed film, unlike our present digital photographic technology. Probably the cheapest way, and the easiest for the general public, to test the consensus of NASA officials whether the Moon landings are actually faked.

Why are the stars not visible? This is because Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s landing on the Moon happened during the daylight ours in the Sea of Tranquility region, so the camera’s shutters are adjusted accordingly. The stars are there but they are just overpowered by the Sun. And since the Moon has no atmosphere, the sky over there appears black even when the Sun is 12 o’clock high. This also made the astronaut’s shadows on the Lunar surface appear strange because it is only sunlight reflected from the astronaut's space suits, gear and Lunar surface that’s illuminating them. Sunlight was not scattered by an existing Lunar atmosphere unlike here on Earth in daytime, making them appear as if a limelight / stage lighting is shining on them.

The more esoteric and recondite topics on the Moon landing hoax is about regarding on the hundreds of pounds of Moon rocks. Only a few people who believe that the Moon landings are a hoax say that the Lunar rock samples obtained by NASA are gathered by robotic Lunar probes as opposed to the Apollo astronauts. But noting the state of robotic technology that’s available to NASA – never mind the US Defense Department – back in the 1960’s, you’ll now have an inkling on what the Moon landing hoax believers are up against.

Then there’s this one little piece of esoteric data that moon landing hoax advocates cherish very much is the levels of radiation found in the Van Allen Radiation Belts can be unhealthy – if not lethal – to America’s Moon-bound astronauts. But NASA officials explained this away by the fact that the Moon-bound spacecraft’s structure – plus the speed that it travels through the Van Allen Belts - is sufficient enough to shield the astronauts against radiation that exists there. This fact about space travel will continue to be debated due to the dearth of data pertaining to the levels of radiation that exists in outer space especially when one goes beyond the influence of Earth’s magnetic field.

Now that the “science leaning” evidence parts pertaining to the Moon landing hoax has been rationally explained away, the rest are more of a political nature. When you look back at the political climate that existed back in the 1960’s when President John F. Kennedy plans to send a man to the Moon before the decade is out, it’s not much worse when compared to George W. Bush / Neo-Conservative ruled America. There was the unpopularity of a war supposedly to halt the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, the less-than-forthcoming investigations on the assassination of President Kennedy to name but a few. Plus the aerospace industry arm of the Military-Industrial Complex being run like a political economy only makes the existence of more far out reasons for faking the Moon landings like evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations being left on the Moon seem more plausible. The bad news is, it will probably take billions of dollars to prove if there was malfeasance or not in late 1960's NASA. Should we wait for something "improbable" to happen, like Chinese or Indian astronauts walking on the Moon a few years from now to see if astronaut’s Armstrong and Aldrin’s footprints that they left back in July 1969 are actually there?