Apollo interview roundup

By Phil Plait | July 20, 2009 12:12 pm

Well, it’s been quite a whirlwind week of Apollo goodness! So much news about the 40th anniversary. There were some excellent video and images released, and it’s been cool to hear from all the Apollo aficionados, especially those directly involved with the mission.

I did quite a few interviews for the media, mostly about the Hoax of course, but some were straight. So what the heck, here’re the ones I’ve found (so far!) that talked to me or mention the site:

WDSU.com’s "Greatest Conspiracy of All Time?"

New York Times

Das Spiegel

Space Daily


National Geographic


The Toronto Star

Thanks to all the reporters who talked to me.

… and a big wet raspberry to The Arizona Star for posting a pandering puff piece about an Apollo Denier who spouts long-debunked ideas. C’mon, guys. I know research is hard, so let me help you out.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Debunking, Skepticism

Comments (36)

  1. I almost sent that to you, but I was busy and figured you were too and I didn’t want to risk making your head explode :)

  2. Kevin

    Phil (and others)…

    Overlooked in all the celebrations of the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first moon landing, there was another first today.

    On July 20, 1976 Viking 1 landed on Mars, the first successful landing on the Red Planet.

    In addition….

    on July 20, 1999 Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 was brought up from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

  3. I do want to see your visitors statistics one day ūüėČ (proper nerds are in love with graphs)

  4. mike burkhart

    I have to say one thing about appollo hoax belevers . As I have said many times on this site I am a big sci fi fan and I have seen just about every movie made about landing on the moon : Destanation Moon, First men in the moon From the Earth to the moon . Moon trap .ect and like Phil I was a fan of Space 1999 as a kid If the Apollo moon landings were faked the fakers should go to work for Hollywood . The Apollo pictures and films look like nothing seen in any of the movies I’ve seen . in fact they look just like the ranger and survayer photos and look like the most acrate pictures of the surface of the moon. If this was a fake the pictures would look like the Luner surface portrayed in thes movies . Even moies made about the moon after apollo don’t look as acuraet .So ther for we must have landed on the moon .

  5. smittypap

    Despair.com has release a new demotivator in honor of the (wink, wink) “moon landing” anniversary. http://despair.com/ac.html

  6. RE: The Arizona Daily Star article.
    I’ve read the Star online for a long time, and after reading about woomeister, went to the comments. Most are ‘the guy is nuts’, but there are a few others, with attacks on President GWBush, President B Obama, and some commentors who deal with other conspiracies.

    Sometimes the comments are better than the article (obviously NOT the case here on BA, of course)



  7. Berry

    I have a very simple reason that the moon landing can’t be a government hoax.

    In the 80s I worked on a classified project for the DoE. Part of my responsibilities were building computer models of the thing and CGI videos of it in action. THis was a super secret “black” compartmentalized project.

    Imagine my surprise seeing a picture of the thing on the cover of Aviation Week!

    The moon landing can’t be a hoax because the government CANNOT keep something like that a secret this long!

  8. Mena

    I’m listening to the audio at wechoosethemoon.org and I really do wish that I was old enough to remember this stuff! I was only 2 at the time.
    Speaking of bad reporting though, yahoo has decided to cover woo, while kind of portraying it as woo but not actually calling it that:

  9. Charles Boyer

    This spate of “moon hoxer” articles really shows just how shoddy and sensational the world of journalism has become.

  10. DrFlimmer

    Phil, a short correction. Actually it’s

    “Der Spiegel”

    and not “Das Spiegel”.

    Btw: The German article in “Der Spiegel” is really great. I’m sorry that I do not try to translate it, because my bad English would definitly destroy the humor in it. ūüėČ

  11. Scott K

    And then there’s CNN, who give excellent facetime to Jamie and Adam, covering their moon-landing-mythbusting: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2009/07/20/dcl.myth.busters.moon.landing.cnn

  12. JoeSmithCA

    I don’t think the moon landings were fake, but what I don’t get is why launched a rocket to get to the moon. All you have to do is drop the rocket off the edge of the earth…


  13. Doug Little

    The Eagle has landed!

  14. I found a link (from Slate via Media Matters) for this video about ‘What if the Moon Landing took place today?’. I’d expected some hoaxers (probably from Fox News) in it, but they just used edits to create a neutral series of reports



  15. Remember Neil?

    Over on WIRED, there’s an article about the Landing… guess who shows up in the comments, and trashes Phil and BAblog as “the Zionist NASA shill Phil Plait‚Äôs disgraceful Bad Astronomy site. Sure, he has glib answers to the same worn out dunce claims about Apollo but he had to censor me when I shut him up with a sound argument that he couldn‚Äôt refute.”

    Link to article and comments:http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/07/dayintech_0720


  16. Trebuchet

    The guy in the Arizona Star said no one has ever called him crazy for his belief. That lasted only until the very first comment.

    Unfortunately many of the commenters are just as nuts.

  17. Autumn

    I haven’t kept up with the comments on the other Moon thread, but has Jeff shown up to announce that he is now 100% convinced that man went to the Moon? It would really warm my cold, logical heart to hear an ex-hoaxer fully swing around to the side of the rational.

  18. I’ve had some discussions on astrostart.nl (Dutch site) about the moon hoax. And there is one question that people who believe in the moon hoax haven’t answered me (yet?). And that’s the question: “What would NASA’s motive be for covering up after 40 years?”

    The Russians would not care. I don’t think NASA’s budget would get slashed for it.

    Keep asking that question.

    My next question would be: “what would be the motive of all the people involved (astronauts, mission planners, people at mission control) never to reveal that it was all a hoax”.

    Maybe I could get all hoax-believer-like and shout: “I demand (credible) answers on these questions”.

  19. José

    It’s kind of odd the way ‚ÄúThe Greatest Hoax Of All Time‚ÄĚ article uses the attempt to climb Mount McKinley as an example considering the fact that the supposed first ascent of McKinley actually was a hoax.

  20. Funniest part about the Arizona Star article is when it claims “The only other conspiracies he believes are…” as if to say “this man isn’t crazy, he only believes in two or three conspiracies! Perfectly normal!”

  21. I caught a blurb about the landings on CNN this morning and they gave lip service to the hoaxers, but both news anchors literally rolled their eyes at the notion, shook their heads and quickly moved on. That was nice to see.

  22. Keith

    I wish I could snap my fingers and make everyone who believes in the Moon Hoax disappear forever. They’re detracting from arguably the greatest accomplishment in Human history!

  23. DLC

    I’ve had enough. To the untold depths with blasted moon hoaxers and their manufacturversy.
    None of them have even a hint of a smidegeon of a clue, and no amount of actual science will convince them otherwise. They shouldn’t even get coverage as “look at these morons and their idiotic beliefs”.

  24. As much as I hate the Arizona Star’s Hoax-loving article, I love these two statements:

    >”It looked phony to me,” said Wilson. “It was a pathetic setup of a sound stage.”


    >Only the astronauts and a small control team knew the landing was a fake. Even mission control thought the journey was legit, he said.

    So it was both a pathetic fake and yet one good enough to fool hundreds of professionals, a rival space-going nation, and millions of people. With the level of organization and technical expertise that they would have needed to fake the Moon landing and keep it “real looking” to the present day (look at the state of the art of special effects of 1969 and tell me they don’t look fake now), the simplest answer is that the “sound stage” was located some 240,000 miles away ON THE MOON!

  25. @John Paradox,

    Gotta love good ol’ reality denying Neil. I don’t what argument he presented that Phil was unable to refute. I certainly didn’t see anything. Perhaps Phil didn’t directly post a response to one of his “proofs” and thus (in the Bizarro-world of Neil’s brain), Neil won that round. Nevermind, of course, that his point was likely shot down repeatedly by other commenters and/or by Phil’s many pages detailing the facts. Likely, the important point (in Neil’s mind) was that Phil didn’t personally address him directly in the proper (as defined by Neil) manner. That’s about the only way that I could see Neil “winning.”

  26. Just watching “We left Earth” on the Discovery Channel about the Moon landing. Something someone said made me realize I made a bit of a mistake:

    “The crew is the tip of the iceberg. In Apollo 11, there were 400,000 people underneath that all had to do their job or we weren’t going to make it. And I think every crew realized that. It was a team effort of NASA that got us to the Moon.” – Charlie Duke, Capcom Apollo 11

    So I retract my “good enough to fool hundreds of professionals, a rival space-going nation, and millions of people” statement. Instead, replace that with “good enough to fool hundreds *OF THOUSANDS* of professionals, a rival space-going nation, and millions of people.”

  27. Rick

    Very cool to read this since I happen to have 6, never opened, clear plastic sleeves sitting next to me:

    Pana-Vue Moon Landing Slides Apollo 11 – July 20th, 1969
    6 sleeves, 5 slides each: from liftoff, to footprints, to Aldrin and Armstrong planting the flag to Aldrin with solar wind package and experiment pack – Very Cool!!!

    My $1 garage sale buy is now a family heirloom.
    Especially since I attended Apollo High School back when we received an Apollo capsule from NASA that was used in training the frogmen…

  28. timinator

    Well none of it is as good as the Lunar Orbiter 2 Wikipedia entry which includes “The spacecraft fired missiles on to the moon from November 18 to 25, 1966, and fallout occurred through December 7, 1966. A total of 609 anti-lander missiles were shot and 208 medium nuclear bombs were detonated, most of excellent quality with explosion precision down to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in).” With the Orbiter having ominous instrumentation “Instruments Rail Guns Large machine guns on either end
    Nuclear Missiles Large explosions to destroy USSR landers
    Smart Bombs Homing missiles
    Radar Jammer Disables communication of enemy landers” I hope wiki bans the IP it came from…..

  29. Bill

    So, Phil, tell me — how much has the gubbermint paid you to support this nonsense about us landing on the moon? Everyone knows it was a hoax, they must have paid you plenty to come up with all this nonsense supporting their story.
    What gets to me the most about these conspiracy theorists is this: why are they so convinced that we are not capable of doing something so spectacularly difficult once we set our minds to it? Are they so down on themselves that they have to project their own inadequacies on the rest of the race? Well, get over it — we can do anything we set our minds to, “not because they are easy but because they are hard!” One of the things that makes me proud to be a human being living in the times that I do is that I was around to see us take our first steps on another world. (I just hope that they weren’t our last!)

    BTW, Phil, I am looking forward to meeting you this weekend at Comic Con. I should have said something when I was in the Mythbusters line last year and you came out and talked to some people just 5 feet in front of me!

  30. Zyggy

    A bit off-topic…I was wondering if anyone had some good (fictional) reading suggestions about moon colonization, and I figured this would be a good place to ask.

    I have read Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. But that’s about all I remember. The Mars series excellent is you haven’t read it, but most of the Moon stuff is in the first novel and focused on training for Mars (which is a great use for a Moon base, IMHO, but that’s another post entirely) .


  31. Parkylondon

    A lot has been written about the “Man Didn’t Really Land On The Moon” nonsense and the Bad Astro book does a lot to debunk those stories. However, one piece seems to be missing from the argument.

    Let’s go back in time.

    It’s the sixties. We’re at the height of the Cold War / Space Race. Everyone is watching everyone else. Looking for a loophole, a propaganda mistake. The Russians love to embarrass the Americans by putting a satellite / dog / man into space before the USA and would have been watching the American efforts closely and undisguised glee.

    We watch their rockets go up and we watch them come down. They do the the same to us – except in the early days they went down a lot more than up. The Russians liked this.

    If the Apollo missions were staged in the desert why then didn’t the Russians shout loud and often about the USA’s moon shot not going to the moon? Surely they would have seen it just stay in orbit?

    The propaganda power it would have given them to proclaim (with evidence) that the Capitalist Pigs had failed to deliver would have been breathtaking.

    I’ll tell you why. It’s because the Apollo Moon landings actually happened. QED.

  32. Parkylondon,

    I’ve heard some hoaxers claim that Russia went along with the moon landing hoax to induce fear in their populace, but honestly did they really need a moon landing for that? We had tons of nuclear weapons pointed at each other. I’d be a lot more afraid of a dozen nuclear weapons then a few (unarmed) lunar landers. And if they exposed the moon landing as a hoax, they would have been able to shoot for being first to land on the moon.

    In the end, the “Moon Hoax” theory requires too many people to have been fooled or kept silent in some fashion for far too long. Surely, of the thousands upon thousands who were either in on the hoax or initially fooled by it, *someone* would come forward with hard evidence of fakery by now!

  33. I am going to use lmgtfy.com a LOT now. Thanks!

  34. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    There is no way Apollo made it to the moon. The theater is still on location in New York City.


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