BLOG: 5 Enduring Conspiracies About the Moon

July 20, 2019 will mark 50 years since man first landed on the moon, an achievement much celebrated and only scarcely repeated!

…It has also been much debated.

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing on the horizon, we’re taking a brief look at several lunar conspiracies that have taken a place in history, and never quite left. Do they have any truth to them? Are they completely crazy? Can we ever know for sure? Put on your thinking cap - or your tin foil hat - and apply your critical thinking skills as you check out these 5 enduring conspiracies about the Moon:

5) The Hollow Moon or Spaceship Moon Hypothesis.

In a concept similar to the Hollow Earth theory, there are some who contest that the moon is hollow. The notion first appeared in science fiction in 1901, when writer H.G. Wells presented the idea in his novel The First Men in the Moon. In the fictional story, a businessman and a scientist discover that the moon is inhabited by a race of intelligent, insect-like extraterrestrials who live beneath the lunar surface. In 1970, two men named Michael Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov expanded on Wells’ narrative by posing the hypothesis that the moon is in fact a hollow spaceship created by unknown beings. Their suggestion, published as the article “Is the Moon the Creation of Alien Intelligence?” in Sputnik magazine, relies on a circumstantial and assumptive concept about meteors. Vasin and Shcherbakov believed that large lunar craters, which are assumed to be formed by meteors hitting the moon’s surface, are too shallow and also have flat or convex bottoms. They hypothesized that the meteors are drilling right through the moon’s outer layer and hitting an armored hull underneath it. According to mainstream science, there is no evidence that there is an empty space inside the moon, and the theory is based on conjecture about a planetary body whose texture, type, and density of planetary strata are vastly different from that of Earth. However, it is interesting to note that between 1972 and 1977, seismometers planted on the moon during the Apollo missions recorded moonquakes that caused the the moon to “ring like a bell.” It wasn’t the first time this unusual sound was heard - astronauts on the Apollo 12 mission in 1969, who crashed the Ascent Stage of the Lunar Module onto the moon’s surface, also claimed the crash impact made the moon ring like a bell, for an hour afterward. There are those who believe that the moon could only create such an intense ringing sound if it were, in fact, a hollow spacecraft.

4) The Moon Was Manufactured By Aliens.

If the moon is a hollow spacecraft, it would stand to reason then that something was responsible for creating and situating that hollow spacecraft in the sky. Michael Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov’s “Spaceship Moon” theory questions whether aliens were responsible for the moon’s making, because in addition to ringing like a bell, there are several odd characteristics about the moon that may point it its true nature as an artificial satellite. For one thing, the moon has tens of thousands of craters on its surface, which Vasin and Shcherbakov refer to in their theory, and these craters all strangely possess the same depth. To some, this indicates that there may be some kind of metallic barrier underneath the surface, protecting it from damage - again like Vasin and Shcherbakov’s theory suggests. Another supposed oddity is the way in which moon moves in a nearly perfect circular pattern around Earth, but yet does not itself spin as Earth does, so that its legendary “dark side” never reveals itself to our planet. So far the moon is the only celestial body in the solar system that has been found to possess these two characteristics. In addition, the moon is also believed to contain a large and unique combination of metals, some of which - like brass - do not occur naturally. Finally, the moon’s size (one-fourth of Earth’s) and its proximity to our planet mean that its gravity has a significant impact on the way our world functions, including the very movement of our oceans. To some conspiracy theorists, all of these observations point to the moon being an artificial creation deliberately placed in Earth’s vicinity. And if the moon is not a creation of man, it must have been manufactured by some other type of intelligent life.

3) The Alien Base on the Dark Side of the Moon.

The Far Side, or fabled “Dark Side”, of the moon always seems to conjure up images of conspiracies, aliens, and mysteries. One such conspiracy arose in 2001, when former US Air Force photo technician Karl Wolfe broke his silence and alleged that the US space agency is intentionally covering up an alien base on the dark side of the moon.

Wolfe had previously worked for the US Air Force Director of Intelligence at the Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Technical Group in Langley, Virginia, which functioned as a center for data from the NASA Lunar Orbiter Project. Wolfe claimed the discovery came one day when he and another airman - the only two people with enough security clearance to work with the facility’s high-tech photographic equipment that processed data from military intelligence hardware - were dealing with an equipment issue in the color lab. According to Wolfe: “We walked over to one side of the lab and he said, ‘By the way, we’ve discovered a base on the backside of the moon.’

“At that point I became terrified, thinking to myself that if anybody walks into the room I know we’d be in jeopardy, because he’s giving me information he shouldn’t. Then he pulled out one of these mosaics and showed this base which had geometric shapes, there were towers, spherical buildings – they were very tall towers and things that looked somewhat like radar dishes, but they were large structures,” Wolfe stated in his testimony to Dr. Steven Greer during the release of the Sirius Disclosure Project at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He believed the structures he witnessed in the photographs, including domes, radar antennas, and mushroom-shaped buildings, were built by intelligent beings and could not have been formed in any natural way. Wolfe also added that although he was frightened someone would discover he had knowledge of the secret base, he also was anticipating learning more about it, and expected every day to hear the discovery announced on the news. Over 30 years later, the announcement had still never come out.

Wolfe’s testimony faded from headlines, but never disappeared. His conspiracy about the base on the dark side of the moon reemerged in 2018, when Karl Wolfe was tragically struck and killed by a tractor trailer while riding his bicycle. His sudden death only added fuel to the conspiracy theory fire.

2) Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Saw a UFO on the Moon Mission.

For years, speculation has persisted over whether or not Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin witnessed a UFO outside their spacecraft while en route to the moon. The conspiracy theory seems to have arisen when, on the third day of their space journey, the Apollo 11 crew spied an unknown light source outside their craft. They radioed Mission Control, asking about the whereabouts of part of the Saturn V rocket they had recently jettisoned. Mission Control responded a few minutes later that the rocket was “6,000 nautical miles away,” and the crew acknowledged the response. According to critics, this is where the idea emerged that the Apollo 11 astronauts encountered a UFO and that UFO enthusiasts have perpetuated that rumor. While it is true that the crew did observe an unidentified object, astronaut Buzz Aldrin tried laying rumors of a UFO to rest in 2015 during a Reddit discussion, in which he claimed the object they glimpsed was actually the sun reflecting of either the jettisoned rocket or one of their spacecraft’s four panels. In the Reddit thread, he wrote:

“On Apollo 11 in route to the Moon, I observed a light out the window that appeared to be moving alongside us. There were many explanations of what that could be, other than another spacecraft from another country or another world - it was either the rocket we had separated from, or the 4 panels that moved away when we extracted the lander from the rocket and we were nose to nose with the two spacecraft. So in the close vicinity, moving away, were 4 panels. And I feel absolutely convinced that we were looking at the sun reflected off of one of these panels. Which one? I don't know. So technically, the definition could be ‘unidentified.'"

Though one of Apollo 11’s own crew has issued a denial of a UFO encounter near the moon, that hasn’t completely stopped the conspiracy theory. Fueling the story are Bob Dean, a United States Army Command Sergeant Major, and Dr. Steven Greer, founder of The Disclosure Project and The Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence. According to Dean, NASA erased 40 rolls of film taken during the Apollo 11 mission. Dr. Greer, for his part, revealed that “close friends and very close family members of both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have separately told me that indeed there were numerous, large UFOs around the crater where the Lunar Module landed and that these were seen by both Armstrong and Aldrin.”

It may be easy to dismiss the claims of these men as unsubstantiated, but one curious detail that remains is the actuality that NASA did in fact admit to losing or destroying some of Apollo 11’s data tapes. “NASA searched for but could not locate some of the original Apollo 11 data tapes – ‘original’ in the sense that they directly recorded data transmitted from the Moon,” the agency stated. “An intensive search of archives and records concluded that the most likely scenario was that the program managers determined there was no longer a need to keep the tapes – since all the video and data were recorded elsewhere – and they were erased and reused,” NASA added.

Is it questionable, even conspiratorial, for NASA to erase any of its footage from one of the most historic moments in America’s history? Conspiracy theorists who believe the Apollo 11 crew encountered UFOs on the moon and that NASA is behind a massive coverup continue to say a vehement “Yes!”

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1) The Apollo 11 Moon Landing Was a Complete Fake.

No list of moon conspiracies would be complete without the most infamously enduring lunar conspiracy of all: that the July 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, one of America’s most triumphant moments in history, was a complete fakery. Arguably, most Americans believe without a doubt that the US became the first country to land on moon on July 20, 1969. It was a turning point in history and in the great Space Race that paved the way for many aerospace achievements yet to come. However, conspiracy theories that the moon landing was a fake have dogged the event since almost the moment the Eagle landed.

Doubters believe the US government, in a desperate bid to beat the Russians in the race to space, staged the lunar mission, with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong acting out the moon landing on a secret film set. Conspiracy theorists have built upon footage and photos of the event to create an argument in favor of a fakery. Some of the alleged evidence they present includes: the shadows displayed on the lunar surfaces are in the wrong positions; the planted American flag is waving in the wind, when wind should not be present on the moon; the astronauts should not have been able to withstand Earth’s radiation field beyond the Van Allen Belt; there are no pictures of stars in the photos taken on the moon... and the list goes on. Some conspiracy videos point out what they believe to be exposed wires and cables, indicating the use of a sound stage used to film the landing. Depending on which theory they hold to, theorists maintain the staging took place in either a secret Hollywood studio or inside the mysterious Area 51. Director Stanley Kubrik has even been named as the person responsible for filming the allegedly fake Apollo 11 landing. One part of the theory even goes so far as to claim the US government ordered the execution of Apollo 11’s original crew - Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee - who were killed in a fire while testing equipment, because they were going to reveal the hoax.

There are actually an astonishing number of claims, angles, and sub-theories like those named above surrounding the Apollo missions. A more comprehensive look at all the elements of the Apollo 11 conspiracy can be found by clicking here, as well as some of the numerous rebuttals offered by scientists in defense of the moon landing, which you can read here. But that central conspiracy - that original moon landing was a total fake - eclipses them all in a complex, enduring theory that has lasted five decades. According to a 1999 gallup poll, it is really only about 6% of the US population who believe the lunar landing was staged, with another 5% claiming they just aren’t sure. However, the idea that the government faked such a momentous event, on such a universal scale, continues to pervade American pop culture in a big way, and the conspiracies are rekindling as the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing approaches.

Do you believe any of these enduring moon conspiracies are plausible? Which theories do you think are least likely? Are there any other unusual lunar conspiracy theories you would add to the list? Start a discussion in the comments!

Happy 50th to the Moon Landing and everything it inspired, even including its many conspiracies!