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The following article, "Did Man Really Land on the Moon", circulated through the Internet in late 2000. It was originally written by David Milne for The Big Issue nr. 108, a Scotland magazine. It is reprinted here with Mr. Milne's permission. It was intended for fun, according to Mr. Milne, but has since caught the imagination of editors and has been widely republished.

Mr. Milne's text appears in colored roman type. My comments appear indented in white italics intermingled with the text to which they refer. Where I intrude upon Mr. Milne's paragraphing, "[...]" appears.

Did man really walk on the moon or was it the ultimate camera trick, asks David Milne?

In the early hours of May 16, 1990, after a week spent watching old video footage of man on the moon, a thought was turning into an obsession in the mind of Ralph Rene.

"How can the flag be fluttering?" the 47 year old American kept asking himself when there's no wind on the atmosphere free Moon? [...]

Quite simply, there are other forces besides air movement that can cause the flag to flutter. This is discussed in detail here.
[...] That moment was to the be the beginning of an incredible Space odyssey for the self-taught engineer from New Jersey.
As with the Collier article, the basis for this article is the arguments of the supposedly brilliant Ralph Rene, who has no qualifications or credentials in any kind of science or engineering. When a self-taught "engineer" says something is impossible, but a host of fully-qualified professional engineers claim to have accomplished it, it's more parsimonious to attribute the discrepancy to the deficiency of the self-guided education.
He started investigating the Apollo moon landings, scouring every NASA film, photo and report with a growing sense of wonder, until finally reaching an awesome conclusion: America had never put a man on the moon. The giant leap for mankind was faked.

It is of course the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories. But Rene has now put all his findings into a book entitled NASA Mooned America, published by himself. Published by himself, it's being sold by mail order -- and is a compelling read.

The story lifts off in 1961 with Russia firing Yuri Gagarin into space, leaving a panicked America trailing in the space race. At an emergency meeting of Congress, President Kennedy proposed the ultimate face-saver, put a man on the moon. With an impassioned speech he secured the plan an unbelievable 40 billion dollars.

And so, says Rene (and a growing number of astro-physicists are beginning to agree with him), [...]

What astrophysicists? The astrophysics community correctly regards Mr. Rene as a kook. Dr. Douglas Osheroff, professor of physics at Stanford University, says, "[Ralph Rene] is obviously a crackpot or a charlatan."
[...] the great moon hoax was born. Between 1969 and 1972, seven Apollo ships headed to the moon. Six claim to have made it, with the ill-fated Apollo 13 -- whose oxygen tanks apparently exploded halfway -- being the only casualty. But with the exception of the known rocks, which could have been easily mocked up in a lab, [...]
I've entertained a number of proposals for how to fabricate false lunar material. So far nobody has come up with a process that has a prayer of fooling the eminent, life-long geologists who work with lunar rocks. They either fail to produce the features geologist say characterize lunar material, or they leave behind by-products that would tip off geologists.

The fact remains that many eminent geologists, some from countries that have no vested interest in protecting America's secrets, have examined the material NASA says came from the moon, and without exception they all agree that it is not terrestrial in origin.

To those who say lunar material can be "easily mocked up in a lab," I say put your money where your mouth is. Do it, or at least describe a credible process for doing it.

[...] the photographs and film footage are the only proof that the Eagle ever landed. And Rene believes they're fake.
There is other evidence. The Jodrell Bank radio observatory in the United Kingdom, among others, tracked the spacecraft independently of NASA. And since the United States and the Soviet Union routinely tracked each other's spacecraft and listened in on their radio traffic, it's reasonable to suppose that the Soviet Union also tracked the Apollo spacecraft. These signals have to be received with precisely-aimed radio telescopes. There are plenty of non-NASA non-Americans who can testify to having intercepted Apollo radio traffic from the moon. NASA even published its radio frequencies ahead of time so that other countries could listen in.

For a start, he says, the TV footage was hopeless. The world tuned in to watch what looked like two blurred white ghosts throw rocks and dust. Part of the reason for the low quality was that, strangely, NASA provided no direct link up. So networks actually had to film 'man's greatest achievement' from a TV screen in Houston -- a deliberate ploy, says Rene, so that nobody could properly examine it.

This is discussed fully here. Briefly, the measures taken to reduce the amount of radio bandwidth required to carry the television signal made the signal incompatible with broadcast standards. The fastest and easiest way to convert the low-resolution, low-rate signal to the standard TV signal was simply to aim a standard television camera at the monitor NASA had specially modified to display the altered signal.

It doesn't make sense to argue that the signal was intentionally degraded to keep it from being closely examined. Later missions offered considerably improved video, and more of it. A smart hoaxster would intentionally degrade the longer broadcasts, which ran a greater risk of accidentally ruining the illusion.

By contrast, the still photos were stunning. Yet that's just the problem. The astronauts took thousands of pictures, each one perfectly exposed and sharply focused. Not one was badly composed or even blurred.

This is discussed in depth here. Until recently, NASA routinely provided only those photos the public seemed interested in. This argument is completely bogus to anyone who's seen the full set of photographs from the Apollo missions.

As Rene points out, that's not all:

  • The cameras had no light meters or viewfinders. So the astronauts achieved this feat without being able to see what they were doing.

    As noted here, the exposures were worked out ahead of time by expert photographers. And if you have a wide-angle lens there's not much of problem with framing.

  • Their film stock was unaffected by the intense peaks and powerful cosmic radiation on the moon, conditions that should have made it useless.
    Ralph Rene adequately demonstrates below that he has no idea what constitutes the radiation in the vicinity of earth and moon. Therefore we don't especially believe his assertion that the radiation would have ruined the film. The radiation in space is quite a bit less than Rene asserts.
  • They managed to adjust their cameras, change film and swap filters in pressurized suits. It should have been almost impossible with the gloves on their fingers.
    It is a persistent but incorrect assertion that astronauts were completely fumble-fingered inside their space suit gloves..

    We're accustomed today to working with the small rolls of 35mm film and the strips of plastic film that have to be wound around spools inside our cameras. But the Hasselblad 500/EL camera has always used a magazine loading system. The magazines were preloaded on earth in a darkroom. The magazines are large enough to handle easily in space gloves.

    The adjustments for focus and aperture for the Zeiss Biogon lens were the standard rings on the lens barrel. It is quite possible to operate these wearing space gloves. To make it easier, a small tab was fastened to each ring allowing the astronaut to nudge the ring around its course.

    Hasselblad was happy to modify the shutter speed control on the camera so that an astronaut in space gloves could operate it. And the shutter was tripped by a trigger and pistol grip that was easy to operate in space gloves.

    In short, Ralph Rene should do more homework.

Award winning British photographer David Persey [sic] is convinced the pictures are fake. His astonishing findings are explained alongside the pictures on these pages, but the basic points are as follows:

  • The shadows could only have been created with multiple light sources and, in particular, powerful spotlights. [...]
    As near as we can tell, the limit of David Percy's laud amounts to a yearly award given by a small, obscure association of industrial filmmakers in Great Britain. His principal source of fame is as a lunar landing conspiracist.

    David Percy categorically eliminates any irregularity in the surface as a possible cause of differing shadow lengths, even when his own evidence demonstrates it. If one goes to great lengths to eliminate the obvious, then only the preposterous must remain and that's the basis of Percy's proof. He demonstrates an almost uncanny ability to judge the sun elevation and azimuth angles to within fractions of a degree from a single shadow cast by an irregular object onto varied terrain.

    But sadly obvious is the way the astronauts' shadows fail to conform to the expectations that follow from a single nearby spotlight lighting the entire scene. Moving toward or away from a nearby spotlight would indeed change the length of shadows cast on level ground, but in the direction opposite that which we observe!

    [...] But the only light source on the moon was the sun.
    David Percy doggedly maintains this, mostly because he knows that most of his arguments will vanish if this weren't true. In fact, the reflection from the lunar surface is a very significant source of indirect light on the lunar surface. In fact, the astronauts comment upon it frequently. There was a strong tendency for the light to reflect back specularly in the direction of the sun. This obscured details.
  • The American flag and the words 'United States' are always brightly lit, even when everything around is in shadow.
    The decals on the lunar module were made from diffusely reflecting material while the surrounding material was specularly reflecting insulation. Under most lighting conditions the decal should appear brighter.
  • Not one still picture matches the film footage, yet NASA claims both were shot at the same time.
    This is a good idea of the ill-researched rubbish Percy produces to support this claim. If he had really examined large portions of the Apollo record as he claims, he could not make this assertion.

    Other evidence, for example, says the highlights from the sun on the astronauts' visors are brighter in the video than in the still photography. Percy refuses to consider that the difference in imaging technology (i.e., vidicon tubes versus Kodak film) might produce such an effect. And earlier Milne complains about the "two blurred white ghosts."

    And while Milne quotes Percy as claiming that there is no fidelity at all between the video and still record, Percy can really only come up with about two or three examples and they can all be easily explained by means other than deliberate falsification. But it's a good example of Percy's tendency to state a tentative conclusion and then refer to it as incontrovertible fact by the end of the paragraph without having provided any additional proof.

  • The pictures are so perfect each one would have taken a slick advertising agency hours to put together. But the astronauts managed it repeatedly.
    Echoing Ralph Rene's assertions, David Percy assures us that the all the Apollo photos are surprisingly excellent. But just like Rene, Percy bases this on a very incomplete examination of Apollo photographs. Percy claims he has made an exhaustive study of the Apollo record, but obviously he has not.

    When confronted with the generally low quality of the entire record, Percy responds: "All the images, even the 'less good' or 'more ordinary' pictures, exhibit the same contradictory errors -- or deliberate mistakes."[Aulis] It appears to me that Percy is sidestepping the issue. He doesn't explain why he claims the quality is generally good when it is generally bad, only that his claims of anomalous lighting, etc., can be seen in all the photos.

David Persey believes the mistakes were deliberate, left there by "whistle blowers", who were keen for the truth to one day get out.
If Persey is right and the pictures are fake, then we've only NASA's word that man ever went to the Moon. And, asks Rene, "Why would anyone fake pictures of an event that actually happened?"
Ask David Percy. Percy maintains that astronauts probably did land on the moon, but not the astronauts we are told about. Percy adamantly distances himself from other conspiracists in that he claims only the record was falsified, not the project itself. So Percy indeed claims that NASA faked images of an event that he acknowledges might have really happened.

The questions don't stop there. Outer space is awash with deadly radiation that emanates from solar flares firing out from the sun. Standard astronauts orbiting Earth in near space, like those who recently fixed the Hubble telescope, are protected by the earth's Van Allen belt. But the moon is up to 240,000 miles distant, way outside this safe band. And, during the Apollo flights, astronomical data shows there were no less than 1,458 such flares.

Solar events occur every few days. The mistake is to assume that all these events are potentially lethal, or even of any serious concern. The astronauts would only be harmed by the most energetic solar events, the kind that occur only once in ten years or so. And although the results would be harmful, they would probably not be fatal.

In 1972 there was a series of enormously powerful solar events. These would have disrupted an Apollo mission and probably made the astronauts sick or damaged their equipment. The next such event occurred in 1989, damaging several communications satellites. The next occurred in 1997. The chances of a first-magnitude solar event happening during any given Apollo mission were astronomically small.

The use of the given statistic is highly misleading. We know that some traffic accidents are fatal, but the vast majority of them are not even injurious and produce only minor property damage. Reporting the total number of accidents as if they were all fatal would be dishonest.

A complete discussion of solar radiation and its effect on Apollo missions is here.

[...] John Mauldin, a physicist who works for NASA, once said shielding at least two metres thick would be needed. [...]
Dr. Mauldin apparently worked on the early planning of the Voyager missions, but otherwise is a college professor. The statement in question comes from Mauldin's Prospects for Interstellar Travel, not from any work he did for NASA. And it applies only to long-term interstellar travel, not travel to the moon and back -- very different problems. Ralph Rene naively seems to believe that space is space.

The hypothetical spaceships Mauldin describes in Rene's quote are those in which several generations live their lives during the long interstellar journey. Thus the ship must provide a much higher level of protection than simply for two weeks relatively close to Earth. The interstellar radiation environment is much harsher; in the Solar System the pressure of the solar wind keeps out the interstellar radiation. And finally, Mauldin's shielding must shield not only against radiation but also the impacts of debris such as dust, through which the ship is moving at near relativistic speeds -- not the comparatively sedate speeds of travel between Earth and Moon.

This whole line of reasoning seems to treat radiation as a homogeneous "boogey man" with straightforward effects and remedies. While huge thicknesses of dense material such as lead and concrete must be used to stop wave radiation (e.g., gamma rays), wave radiation is not the chief concern in space.

[...] Yet the walls of the Lunar Landers, which took astronauts from the spaceship to the moon's surface were, said NASA, "about the thickness of heavy duty aluminium foil".

How could that stop this deadly radiation? [...]

Rene relies on the general public's simplistic perception of radiation. Namely, that it's a singular phenomenon that requires bulky shielding for protection, and that it's dangerous even in small doses.

The answer to Rene's questions lies in what he hasn't explained about radiation. There are two basic types of radiation: particle radiation and wave radiation. Particle radiation is very dangerous, but it's also relatively easy to shield against. While it would require many centimeters of dense material to shield against wave radiation, particles can be completely stopped by thicknesses of aluminum less than one centimeter.

In fact, the Bremsstrahlung effect actually makes thin metal shielding more appealing than thick metal. The thicker metal would simply provide more metal molecules for a braking particle to strike, increasing the overall radiation dosage from x-rays.

The command module hull was actually a sort of sandwich made by stainless steel on the outside, aluminum on the inside, and a sort of felt-like insulation in between. This combination is a very effective shield against the type of radiation encountered in space, which is different that the kind of radiation emitted by a microwave oven or produced in a nuclear reactor.

[...] And if the astronauts were protected by their space suits, why didn't rescue workers use such protective gear at the Chernobyl meltdown, which released only a fraction of the dose astronauts would encounter? [...]
First, such gear was not available.

Second, the type of radiation released at Chernobyl was different than that found in the Van Allen belts. Nuclear fission produces vast amounts of wave radiation (x-rays and gamma rays) that requires thick shielding.

Third, the contention that the Chernobyl meltdown released only a fraction of the radiation found in the Van Allen belts or in deep space is unsupported and is simply wrong. The nature of the exposure from the Chernobyl accident is completely different from what an astronaut would encounter in deep space.

[...] Not one Apollo astronaut ever contracted cancer -- [...]
Well, not yet anyway. Strangely enough this fact never seems to motivate the conspiracists to go back and examine their original assumptions. This is what logicians call a "straw man" -- a meaningless contradiction. Sure, no astronaut has yet reported a radiation-related sickness (except, perhaps, for Buzz Aldrin, who fears he has suffered neurological damage). But that's because the conspiracist's expectations of radiation exposure are naive.
[...] -- not even the Apollo 16 crew who were on their way to the Moon when a big flare started. "They should have been fried", says Rene.
According to NASA's records it was Apollo 12 that weathered a solar particle event. And it was a minor one, not the "big flare" Rene claims. In fact, the colossal event of August 4-9, 1972 would only have resulting in a deep tissue exposure of 35 rads. Rene says they should have been fried because Rene doesn't understand radiation.

Furthermore, every Apollo mission before number 11 (the first to the moon) was plagued with around 20,000 defects apiece. Yet, with the exception of Apollo 13, NASA claims there wasn't one major technical problem on any of their moon missions. Just one defect could have blown the whole thing. "The odds against these are so unlikely that God must have been the co-pilot," says Rene.

No, not all defects are of equal magnitude. If Mr. Rene had any actual engineering experience or knowledge he would understand that 20,000 defects is not a shockingly high number. In fact, it's rather low for an experimental program involving lots of very complicated machinery. And not all defects refer to life-threatening problems. See here for a fuller discussion.

In order to evaluate NASA's claim that no major technical problems occurred, we have to decide what is considered "major". Apollo 11's lunar module computer software had a bug in the descent program. Its onboard timer also failed. These would be considered serious defects by the engineers, but the astronauts were not in danger of losing life or limb.

Apollo 12 was struck by lightning during launch.

Apollo 14's docking mechanism failed to function, almost cancelling the mission. "Loss of mission" is considered a very serious failure in the aerospace industry, but it would not have jeopardized the astronauts' lives.

Apollo 16 was delayed in landing because of a failure on the command module.

To say that the operational Apollo flights were unremarkable except for Apollo 13 is misleading. At no time on the other missions were the astronauts put in serious danger by technical failure, but there were plenty of failures that engineers might call serious.

Several years after NASA claimed its first Moon landing, Buzz Aldrin "the second man on the Moon" was asked at a banquet what it felt like to step on to the lunar surface. Aldrin staggered to his feet and left the room crying uncontrollably. It would not be the last time he did this. "It strings me he's suffering from trying to live out a very big lie," says Rene. Aldrin may also fear for his life.

At this point Ralph Rene the self-taught engineer becomes Ralph Rene the self-taught psychologist. We can postulate any number of reasons why Aldrin may have been upset at that particular time, many of which have nothing to do with his occupation as an astronaut. Rene, predisposed to interpret everything in the context of his conspiracy theory, simply makes up a reason and assumes that was Aldrin's reason.

As long as we're postulating reasons, try this one. Aldrin was very sensitive to the fact that he would be the second man on the moon. He had made a very strong case to his superiors that he should be the first. He was persistent enough to have been told bluntly that Armstrong would be the first on the moon and that he should stop lobbying for the historical honor. It's often very difficult to be forever relegated to second place. (How many U.S. vice presidents can you name?) Aldrin had deep feelings on having not been first, and we might explain this outburst in that light instead.

In recent years Aldrin has made many comfortable appearances talking about his historic mission. He has also specifically spoken out against the conspiracists. This is not consistent with someone uncomfortable at "living a lie" or not wishing to be confronted with allegations of falsification. Aldrin is very vocal about having authentically accomplished what he claimed.

Virgil Grissom, a NASA astronaut who baited the Apollo program, was due to pilot Apollo 1 as part of the landings build up. In January 1967 he hung a lemon on his Apollo capsule (in the US, unroadworthy cars are called lemons) [...]

No, he hung a lemon on the simulator. Not an insignificant difference.
[...] and told his wife Betty: "If there is ever a serious accident in the space program, it's likely to be me."
But was this intended to express a lack of faith in the program or its equipment? Grissom had for years considered himself the victim of faulty Mercury hardware, but as a test pilot he understood and accepted the risks of flying with unproven technology. Grissom had been assigned command of the maiden voyage of the Gemini spacecraft and the maiden voyage of the Apollo capsule. And it was no secret he was being groomed to be the first man on the moon. Since he was being lined up for some of the most hazardous duty in the space program, it's not surprising he should feel particularly at risk.

Nobody knows that fuelled his fears, but by the end of the month he and his two co-pilots were dead, burnt to death during a test run when their capsule, pumped full of high pressure pure oxygen, exploded.

Scientists couldn't believe NASA's carelessness -- even chemistry students in high school know high pressure oxygen is extremely explosive. [...]

A legitimate criticism. NASA had focused on the hazards of the flight itself, in which the cabin pressure would have been only a fraction of that present at the Apollo 1 fire, not on what might occur in a simple test which they felt was inherently safe. In January 1967 some engineers had expressed concern over the perceived hazard, but there wasn't time to re-engineer the test procedure.
[...] In fact, before the first manned Apollo flight even cleared the launch pad, a total of 11 would-be astronauts were dead. Apart from the three who were incinerated, seven died in plane crashes and one in a car smash. Now this is a spectacular accident rate.
Not really. Rene makes the mistake of considering the number of fatalities as the number of accidents. Three astronauts perished in the Apollo 1 fire. That's a single accident. Two astronauts perished in a single T-38 crash. That's another single accident.

"One wonders if these 'accidents' weren't NASA's way of correcting mistakes," says Rene. "Of saying that some of these men didn't have the sort of 'right stuff' they were looking."

If Rene wants to accuse NASA of murder he should just come right out and do it, and face the consequences of his accusation.

NASA won't respond to any of these claims, their press office will only say that the Moon landings happened and the pictures are real. But a NASA public affairs officer called Julian Scheer once delighted 200 guests at a private party with footage of astronauts apparently on a landscape. It had been made on a mission film set and was identical to what NASA claimed was the real lunar landscape. "The purpose of this film," Scheer told the enthralled group, "is to indicate that you really can fake things on the ground, almost to the point of deception." [...]

Almost to the point of deception is not to the point of deception.
[...] He then invited his audience to "Come to your own decision about whether or not man actually did walk on the Moon."

A sudden attack of honesty? You bet, says Rene, who claims the only real thing about the Apollo missions were the lift offs. "The astronauts simply have to be on board," he says, "in case the rocket exploded. It was the easiest way to ensure NASA wasn't left with three astronauts who ought to be dead." He claims, adding that they came down a day or so later, out of the public eye (global surveillance wasn't what it is now) and into the safe hands of NASA officials, who whisked them off to prepare for the big day a week later.

Despite, apparently, the fact that signals containing the astronauts' voices were picked up from the spacecraft hurtling toward the moon during the time Rene says the astronauts were on the ground.

And now NASA is planning another giant step -- Project Outreach, a 1 trillion dollar manned mission to Mars. "Think what they'll be able to mock up with today's computer graphics," says Rene chillingly. "Special effects was in its infancy in the 60s This time round we'll have no way of determining the truth."


1. Apollo 14 astronaut Allen Shepard played golf on the moon. In front of a worldwide TV audience, Mission Control teased him about slicing the ball to the right. Yet a slice is caused by uneven air flow over the ball. The Moon has no atmosphere and no air.

It's amazing what some people will try to take seriously. It's a joke, people! Don't quibble, just laugh.

Yes, it requires an atmosphere to either slice or hook a golf ball, not by "uneven airflow" (the airflow over a golf ball is always uneven), but by undesired unevenness in the airflow caused by inadvertent rotation about its vertical axis.

Mission Control CAPCOM Fred Haise wasn't seriously claiming that Shepard had sliced his shot, just as Shepard wasn't serious when he said it flew for "miles and miles". (According to an interview with Ed Mitchell, it went about sixty feet.) And Haise never joked that it went to the right, only that he had sliced it.

2. A camera panned upwards to catch Apollo 16's lunar lander lifting off the moon. Who did the filming?

Ed Fendell, the camera operator at Mission Control, by remote control. It's fairly common knowledge that the television cameras on Apollos 15, 16, and 17 were operated by remote control from Houston. And the video footage from those missions is rife with pans, tilts, and zooms with both astronauts away from the camera (indeed, in the frame).

That someone would emphasize this one particular shot as anomalous indicates that he hasn't examined (or thought about) any of the other video material from that mission, or looked into the procedures or equipment used on those missions. Earlier we were assured that Mr. Rene had voraciously read lots of material from NASA. Now we see that perhaps Mr. Rene's research was a bit more casual that first claimed.

3. One NASA picture from Apollo 11 is looking up at Neil Armstrong about to take his giant step for mankind. The photographer must have been lying on the planet surface. If Armstrong was the first man on the moon, then who took the shot?

We have examined the entire photo series from Apollo 11 and we can find no such picture. There are only about three Hasselblad photos of Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface, and none of them purports to be of him taking his first step. The embarrassing fact is that Armstrong was a far better photographer than Aldrin, so Armstrong was given the task of taking most of the photos during Apollo 11's lunar surface exploration. And consequently most of the pictures are of Aldrin.

With this fact in mind, we might suppose that Mr. Milne is actually looking at the series of photos taken of Aldrin as he worked his way out of the small lunar module hatch. NASA engineers were especially interested in seeing how easily one could squeeze through the narrow hatch, and so Neil took six or seven photos of Aldrin's egress. Since Aldrin was at the top of the ladder and Armstrong was standing on the surface, it might appear that these were taken from an abnormally low angle.

It's also pretty common for conspiracists to produce photos taken during training on earth and represent that they are actual lunar photos. One should expect to see a large number of "anomalies" in such photos, but it's unlikely that NASA expects us to believe that photos including test engineers standing around in shirts and ties were actually taken on the moon.

Until we see which photo Mr. Milne is describing, we can't be sure what his actual claim is.

4. The pressure inside a space suit was greater than inside a football.[...]

Wrong. Rawlings, for example, recommends that footballs be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. The Apollo space suits were inflated to only about 3.5 pounds per square inch.
[...] The astronauts should have been puffed out like the Michelin Man, but were seen freely bending their joints.
The outer layer of the space suit covers a very futuristic looking pressure bladder. As seen in the detailed discussion here, the knees and elbows of the suit were fitted with a type of bellows joint which allowed them to hold pressure while at the same time making them easy to bend.

Nevertheless the astronauts did note that upper-body fatigue was a problem. Long periods of working against the stiffness of the suit would tire them out. Crews of later missions adapted to this by building more upper-body strength on the recommendation of the initial crews.

5. The moon landings took place during the cold war. Why didn't America make a signal on the moon that could be seen from earth? The PR would have been phenomenal and it could have been easily done with magnesium flares.

It is a common belief that we can use powerful telescopes to directly view very small details on the lunar surface. But in fact even the most powerful telescope available, the Hubble Space Telescope, can only see objects on the moon which are larger than 200 feet in size. While a magnesium flare could be ignited on the moon, it's simply not true that such a thing would have been visible from earth.

Text from pictures in the article:

Obviously we can't be sure which photographs appeared in the original print article, so we can make only general comments about these captions.

1. Only two men walked on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission. Yet the astronaut reflected in the visor has no camera. Who took the shot?

The cameras were typically fastened to the astronaut's chest-mounted control unit. Since the camera was white and the astronaut's suit was white, it's sometimes difficult to discern the camera from the suit, especially in the tiny distorted images reflected in the visors.

2. The flag's shadow goes behind the rock so doesn't match the dark line in the foreground, which looks like a line cord. So the shadow to the lower right of the spaceman must be the flag. Where is his shadow? And why is the flag fluttering if there is no air or wind on the moon?

We suspect the shadow discrepancy is an example of uneven ground. Obviously a flag can't "flutter" in a still photograph. It merely appears wrinkled from having been folded tightly in its traveling package, and is held outstretched by the rod threaded through its upper hem.

3. How can the flag be brightly lit when its side is to the light? And where in all of these shots, are the stars?

The Apollo flags were not specially constructed, except to add the hem on top through which the suspension rod was threaded. They were nylon, and probably made by Annin of New Jersey. These flags, still available today, have remarkable behavior in the light. They are extremely brilliant and reflective, especially when new, and have the property (not shared by cotton flags) of translucency. In short, it's very difficult to position a nylon flag in such a way that light shines neither on it nor through it.

4. The Lander weighed 17 tons yet the astronauts feet seem to have made a bigger dent in the dust. The powerful booster rocket at the base of the Lunar Lander was fired to slow descent to the moons surface. Yet it has left no traces of blasting on the dust underneath. It should have created a small crater, yet the booster looks like it's never been fired.

This is covered in detail here. The lunar module weighed 17 tons fully loaded in earth gravity. At the instant it landed it had shed most of that weight, which was fuel for the descent engine. And in lunar gravity it only weighed about 2,600 pounds (1,200 kg). Thus to hover would require the engine to supply only 2,600 pounds of thrust. This is one-tenth that produced by a Harrier jump jet, and we don't see craters under those.

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