50 years of Apollo mission: Was Moon landing fake? Here are the facts

Astronaut on lunar (moon) landing mission. Photo: Shutterstock
Even fifty years after astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, there are people who still insist that it never happened and that it was a hoax perpetrated by the US government.

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 Mission landed two men on the Moon. Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin piloted the lunar module, which detached from the spacecraft and landed on the Moon's surface. Their commander, Neil Armstrong, became the first man on the Moon. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 82.

However, conspiracy theories that claimed that the moon landing was faked and that it was all a Hollywood-like cinematic production shot on Earth have been doing the rounds for decades.    

The Associated Press recently listed the most common claims and the counters to them:

1) Claim: In the photos from the Moon, the American flag looks like it's flapping in the wind. That would be impossible because there's no air up on the Moon.

Fact: Instead of letting the American flag droop, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) had decided to use a right-angled rod to keep the flag spread out, Roger Launius, Nasa's former chief historian, told AP. According to the report, Armstrong and Aldrin bent the rod a bit by accident, which made it look like the flag was in motion. Further, Launius told AP, the astronauts were worried the flagpole would fall down after they had twisted it into the ground, so they snapped the photos quickly, capturing the flag as it was still in motion. 

2) Claim: No stars can be seen in the background of any photographs as Nasa knew that astronomers would be able to use them to figure out whether the photos were taken on the Earth or the Moon.

Fact: Astronomer Emily Drabek-Maunder, from the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, told AP that the shutter speeds on the astronauts' cameras were too fast to capture the stars' faint light. 

3) Claim: The lunar module didn't scatter any dust and didn't leave a crater from the rocket blast that slowed its descent when it descended onto the Moon's surface

Fact: Drabek-Maunder told AP that while landing on the Moon, the module was traveling horizontally for some time, and so the thrusters weren't pointed down and wouldn't have kicked up dust. However, Drabek-Maunder added that when the module did finally touch down, "you can see dust actually being thrown up". 

Regarding the lack of craters, Launius told AP that the astronauts didn't require a large blast to slow down because the Moon's gravity is about one-sixth that of the Earth's.