Conspiracy Theories: The Moon Landing

Zaina Oweida

Zaina Oweida

The moon landing is a huge part of American history. It was the first time a human has ever walked on the moon. Or is it? The moon landing has been a subject of heated debates for decades. Conspiracy theories of whether or not we went to the moon can be traced back to as early as 1976 when the book We Never Went To The Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle was released. Conspiracy theorists claimed that the moon landing was a hoax organized by NASA and the government. Now, why would the government want to fake such a monumental event?

In the early 1970s official classified documents from the Pentagon were leaked. Once the public got ahold of them it was found that the Johnson administration had been hiding information about the Vietnam War. This was the start of a trust crisis in the country which led people to become more skeptical of whatever information the government would tell the public. This would create a world of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories are a belief that some secret but influential organization is responsible for an event or phenomenon.

The man responsible for the start of the moon landing theory is a man named William Kaysing. William Kaysing is a former technical writer who worked briefly at a company that made rocket engines. Kaysing claimed the government had faked the moon landing because they simply didn’t have the technology to do the mission. In his book “We Never Went to The Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle” he goes on the claim that the government had shot the moon landing at a studio in Area 51. Other conspiracy theorists have added to the theory that the moon landing was filmed in a studio. To break it down, in the moon landing video the American flag is seen waving. But how is the flag moving if there is no wind in space? NASA has responded to this by saying that Aldrin was twisting the flagpole to get it into the moon soil, Which caused the flag to move. Although this did not satisfy the conspiracy theorists you could consider that piece of evidence “debunked.” 

“The Shadow”-In one of the images, it shows non-parallel shadows of Neil Armstrong and a pole.

Say if the sun were the only light source then the shadows would be parallel. Implying the scene was shot in a studio. According to Ojha “the director of the National Space Centre”, “You have all seen this phenomenon yourself, where, because of perspective, parallel lines appear to be non-parallel. If you are trying to reduce a two-dimensional plane and a three-dimensional situation, you can make lines do all sorts of weird things. Artists have been using this for centuries.” Is this another theory debunked?

“The Stars”-Theorists have also questioned why there weren’t any stars appearing in the background. Some respond with the fact that the camera’s shutter speed has to be very fast and the aperture needs to be incredibly small to capture faint objects like the stars which is why it supposedly didn’t show up. 

Why would the government go through all this to fake the moon landing? There are various answers to this question. One is the space race. In the 20th century, there was a period of competition between the United States and the Soviet Union over who would conquer space exploration first. The theory goes that when the Soviet Union launched a transmitter into space the U.S. panicked because they didn’t have the technology to do the moon landing so they set up a fake scene of them landing on the moon to end the space race. There is another theory that the U.S. did go to the moon but was told to not return.

This leads to the other major question. If we did go to the moon, Why haven’t we gone back? Some theorists believe that we did go to the moon but aliens threatened us to not return which is why NASA has not tried to go back to the moon after all these years. But according to Ojha (the director of the National Space Centre), “The answer is we changed our priorities, From a combination of the Vietnam war, but also there was this geopolitical element of thinking, ‘We’ve won the race’. Just as we’d gotten good at doing science on the moon, we abandoned it.”.  

Although a lot of the theories have been “debunked”. There are still people who full-heartedly believe the moon landing was fake. I do think there are a lot of questionable holes in the moon landing story but I’m not 100% on either side. Do you believe the moon landing was a hoax?


~ Works Cited~

Knight, Peter. “How Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories Began and Why They Persist Today.” The Conversation, 10 July 2019,“Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories, Debunked.” Royal Museums Greenwich,