Nearly 50 years ago today on July 20th, 1969, humans stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the very first time with the Apollo 11 mission. It was a remarkable achievement that gave the United States victory in the Space Race, and solidified NASA’s role as a leader in space exploration.
The Apollo program was an incredible time of space innovation and development. It used innovations spawned from the worst parts of humanity to create some of the most incredible things we’ve ever done.
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It was an amazing experience to see Launchpad 39A, where the Apollo Missions and Space Shuttle took off from, in person. Pad 39A is currently being leased to SpaceX until 2034.
What makes my picture of Pad 39A even cooler is the fact that I was literally standing on Launchpad 39B, where the NASA’s new Orion Spacecraft (which will take humans back to the moon – and beyond) will take off from in 2020.
As part of our tour, they even took us inside one of the four Firing Rooms at Kennedy Space Center (the launch control rooms), though they didn’t let us take pictures of it. It looked very similar to the Range Control Center at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, which NASA invited me to visit for the Antares OA-9 mission to resupply the International Space Station. The only difference was Firing Room 1 was slightly bigger, and didn’t have a wall of TV screens.
NASA has sent humans back to the moon five times since July of 1969, with the most recent landing occurring on December 11, 1972.
The last words humans ever spoke on the moon were spoken by Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cerman:
As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come (but we believe not too long into the future), I’d like to just say what I believe history will record: That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind.
Technically, the real final words were probably “Now, let’s get off. Forget the camera,” just before the lander launched to rejoin astronaut Ronald Evans, who was orbiting the moon in the Apollo capsule. I guess it’s not quite as inspiring or existential as the recording, though.
But, as the Skeptical Meme Society points out, there are some “woke” people who know the actual truth.
NASA has lied to us for almost 5 decades.
Despite having actual pictures of the landing sites, showing rover tracks, astronaut footpaths, and equipment left on the moon, there are still people who deny that NASA actually landed on the moon.
Above: the landing site for Apollo 17 as captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Even if you ignore the overwhelming amount of evidence from NASA that supports the fact that they landed humans on the moon six times, many third parties have verified it, and now there is even research into conspiracy theories that supports the fact that we landed on the moon.
Research just doesn’t support conspiracy theorists.
A study published by PLoS One in March 2016 examined the likelihood of four common conspiracy theories being kept a secret. The study looked at the moon landing conspiracy, the climate change conspiracy, the vaccine conspiracy, and the cancer cure conspiracy. The study looked at the total amount of people involved in each conspiracy, and what their projected ability would be to shut up about it.
They found that 411,000 people would be complicit in the moon landing conspiracy, 405,000 in the climate change conspiracy, 22,000 in the vaccination conspiracy, and 714,000 in the cancer cure conspiracy.
The study found that, for everyone that would be involved, the probability of failure to keep the moon landing and climate change conspiracies a secret reached 1 (meaning 100% chance of failure) after only 3.7 years. For the cancer cure and vaccine conspiracies, the cat would get out of the bag after just under 3.2 years.
The “3.2 years” figure includes all parties involved- the CDC, WHO, and vaccine manufacturers. So the study also looked into the probability of just the CDC/WHO being able to keep a lid on the conspiracy as well. They found that it would fail after about 35 years. For reference, the first vaccine was created by Edward Jenner in 1796, meaning that the vaccine conspiracy should have crumbled at a minimum of 6 times by now.
Spoiler alert: there’s no conspiracy.
It still blows me away that people believe wild conspiracy theories like this. Perhaps it’s a narcissistic desire to always feel smarter than someone else, or paranoia that the government is constantly out to get you, or maybe it’s just a serious issue with information processing and critical thinking. Regardless their reason for doubting it, we know for a fact that humans landed on the moon in the 1960s and 1970s, and hopefully we will be returning to the moon with NASA’s Orion capsule in the very near future.
Meme credit: Skeptical Meme Society
Portions of this article were previously published.