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Role of Neil Armstrong and Moon Landing: Analytical Essay

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One Small Step?

Neil Armstrong, the first man to supposedly land on the moon, once said: “Every sight in space is spectacular.” The question is, did he and America really land on the moon? Or was it a broadcasted fraud? When looking at the scenery, timing, science, etc it is clear that the United States did not land on the moon on July 20, 1969. When investigating the logistics and other aspects of the alleged moon landing all signs point towards it being a studio production. While many people fell into the trap and believe that it was not a hoax, almost 7% of Americans, rightfully, believe that the moon landing was indeed just a production (Schwartz).

After World War II ended in the mid-20th century, the Cold War began. This war involved the world’s two greatest powers at the time in the democratic capitalist country United States and the communist Soviet Union. Exploring space was a dramatic and important piece of the battle. Starting in the late 1950s, the “Space Race” became a key component in the war as each side tried to demonstrate the power of their innovation and their military capability in an attempt to prove that their government and economic systems were better (“The Space Race”). On October 4th, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik (Russian for “traveler”). The R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile was the world’s first man-made object and the first artificial satellite to go into the Earth’s orbit. Sputnik’s launch came as an unpleasant surprise to most Americans. In the United States, space was seen as the next step toward the future and it was crucial not to lose too much ground to the Soviets. Within the next year, in 1958, the United States launched Explorer I, its own satellite designed by the military. In July later that year the President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, establishing NASA (“The Space Race Timeline”). The United States had fallen behind in the Space Race and was rushing to try to beat the Soviet Union. When adjusted with inflation the United States had spent nearly $288 billion between 1960 and 1973 just trying to land on the moon (“How Much Did the Apollo Program Cost?”). Even with spending $288 billion the United States continued to trail in the Space Race.

On September 12th, 1959 it became evident that the United States had not only trailed in the race to space but was destined to lose. A little after midnight on September 14th, 1959, Luna 2, the Soviet Union’s spacecraft, had crashed on the moon 240,000 miles away. According to the NASA Historical Data Book “At that point, the closest that any American probe had come to the Moon was 37,000 miles” (Van). That same day a leader in the Soviet Union, Nikita Khruschev, arrived in the United States and was met by President Dwight Eisenhower. The success of Luna 2 gave him all the confidence he could ever need. He lectured the president and Americans on the success that communism brings using Luna 2 as his primary source of reasoning (Cavendish). Not only that, but only 3 weeks later the Soviets did it again even better! Luna 3 was launched on October 4th, the second anniversary of Sputnik 1, to swing around the far side of the Moon and send back the first fuzzy pictures of its dark side, which no one had seen before. It was an incredible development of navigation and it was now possible to draw a map of the Moon’s hidden side. All of this was happening while the American attempts were publicly failing. This allowed the Soviets to continue to propaganda and gave them leverage on the conversation about which country is more advance. When the leader of the Luna program passed away in 1966 the United States saw it as an opportunity to finally catch up in the race (Roose). America began pouring more and more money into failing attempts. Rather than investing more time and energy into a failing system and always having to catch up to the Soviet Union, many people believe that at this point America decided to focus on photographic and editing technology. The United States fell under the pressure and decided that it would be easier, faster, and cost-effective if they were to just film the “moon landing” in a studio (Godwin).

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There are many ways to prove that the United States faked the moon landing. One of the well-known theories is about the flag. If one were to look at the American flag in a picture from the Apollo 11 mission, it appears to be flapping in the wind (Refer to image 1). But how can that be, since there’s no wind on the moon? Rick Fienberg, the press officer for the American Astronomical Society, who holds a Ph.D. in astronomy even admits that “If the astronauts had planted a regular flag on the moon, it would’ve hung slack like flags do on Earth when there’s no wind. This wouldn’t make for a very appealing photo”(Little). However, there are those who dispute this idea. NASA claims that they created these flags with a horizontal rod inside to make them stick out from the flagpole. They say “The Apollo 11 astronauts had trouble extending the rod all the way, and in still pictures, this creates a ripple effect that makes the flag look like it’s waving in the wind” (“Conspiracy Theories”). However, that same logic can be applied to if it were to be recorded in a studio as there is also no wind. The flag used in the production had a horizontal rod in it causing it to appear to be waving. Furthermore, the purpose of the moon landing was to show the advancements of the United States and to lift up the image of the country, so they produced the event and used that flag to make it appear to be waving because it would make the perfect picture. The production of the moon landing film was just one giant publicity stunt that the government performed to make it appear as if they had the first man to land on the moon.

Another way to prove that the moon landing was a hoax is the shadows on the moon. In images from the moon landing production, it is possible to see certain objects even though they are in shadow (Refer to image 2). However, if the sun were the only source of light, then this would be impossible! Therefore, the fact that you can see some objects in the shadow hast to be because of special production lighting (Keneally). This is why, in some images, you can make out a plaque that Armstrong and Aldrin left on the moon even though it’s lying in shadow (Miller).

A poll conducted in July of 1970 found 30% of Americans believing Apollo 11 to be a fake (Linden). At that time people knew the truth, they witnessed the United States feel pressured and rush a film. The Space Race led to the United States lying to the world all for a better public image of the country. With evidence from the flag and shadows, it is evident that the United States poorly produced a film of a fake moon landing to make them seem as if they were superior.

Sources:

  1. Cavendish, Richard. “The Soviet Union Is First to the Moon.” History Today, History Today, 9 Sept. 2009, www.historytoday.com/archive/soviet-union-first-moon.
  2. Godwin, Richard. “One Giant … Lie? Why so Many People Still Think the Moon Landings Were Faked.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 July 2019, www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/10/one-giant-lie-why-so-many-people-still-think-the-moon-landings-were-faked.
  3. “How Much Did the Apollo Program Cost?” The Planetary Society Blog, The Planetary Society, 2019,www.planetary.org/get-involved/be-a-space-advocate/become-an-expert/cost-of-apollo-program.html.
  4. Keneally, Meghan. “Why the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories Have Endured despite Being Debunked Numerous Times.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 18 July 2019, abcnews.go.com/Technology/apollo-11-moon-landing-conspiracy-theories-endured-debunked/story?id=64339363.
  5. Linden, Sander van der. “Moon Landing Faked!!!-Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 30 Apr. 2013, www.scientificamerican.com/article/moon-landing-faked-why-people-believe-conspiracy-theories/.
  6. Little, Becky. “The Wildest Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories, Debunked.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 10 June 2019, www.history.com/news/moon-landing-fake-conspiracy-theories.
  7. Miller, Ryan W. “Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong Put a Flag on the Moon. Here’s What You Can and Can’t See in the Iconic Photo.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 22 July 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/07/19/apollo-11-moon-landing-what-you-cant-see-buzz-aldrin-flag-photo/1570334001/.
  8. Roos, Dave. “How Many Times Has the U.S. Landed on the Moon?” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 12 June 2019, www.history.com/news/us-moon-landings-apollo.
  9. Schwartz, Ken. “Millions Still Believe the 1969 Moon Landing Was a Hoax.” Voice of America, Voice of America, 20 July 2017, 7:07 am, www.voanews.com/usa/millions-still-believe-1969-moon-landing-was-hoax.
  10. “The Space Race Timeline.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 2018, www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/moon-space-race/.
  11. “The Space Race.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 22 Feb. 2010, www.history.com/topics/cold-war/space-race.
  12. Van, Nimmen. Jane and Leonard Bruno. ‘NASA Historical Data Book, 1958 – 1968 Vol 1: NASA Resources.’ NASA Historical Series. Washington, D.C. 1976.

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