WASHINGTON: According to the Pew Research Center, 7 percent of Americans say Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin never landed on the moon in July of 1969. In Britain, that number climbs to 52 percent. But in Russia, a whopping 57 percent steadfastly deny it, according to a poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center.
Real Russian meddling
This may explain why Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, recently quipped that sometime in 2030, cosmonauts will fly over the moon’s “Tranquility Base” in search of evidence that Americans did indeed plant the US flag in its fine lunar dust half a century ago.
“We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they’ve been there or not,” said Rogozin during a news conference in Moldavia.
Russia’s space czar was in meetings with Moldavian President Igor Dodon concerning the prospect of building a multinational moon base and orbital space station.
He said that in 2020, Russia will deploy a new reusable spacecraft to replace its aging Soyuz fleet. The new spacefaring vessels will include a Terminator-like robot. The automaton will conduct tasks considered too dangerous for the ship’s human complement.
When Americans walked on the moon
It’s hard to believe Americans stood on the moon a half-century ago, only to abandon it. Space pioneer Wernher von Braun viewed the Apollo program as nothing more than a cosmic stepping stone. A prelude to an eventual manned mission to Mars by the 1980s.
Von Braun predicted that
“Before the year 2000 is over, the first child will have been born on the moon.”
That notion proved to be as barren as the surface of the moon itself.
Not feeling it
The granddaddy of moon-landing deniers, Bill Kaysing, who worked for Rocketdyne, the company that produced the F-1 engines that propelled the Saturn V rockets of Apollo, freely admitted his conspiracy theory was based solely on instinct.
As he notes in his 1976 book “We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle!”:
“Call it a hunch, an intuition; information from some little understood and mysterious channel of communication… a metaphysical message. While tenuous and ephemeral at its source, it was strong and vivid in its form. In short, it was a true conviction… Watergate was an outstanding example and a striking point of comparison. Here was a case of leaders presenting one face to the public while another was completely hidden; a Machiavellian duplicity that has shocked many people and shattered their complacency.”
That was a nice touch. After all, it was “Tricky Dick” Nixon who spoke from the Oval Office to Armstrong and Aldrin while the pair were on the lunar surface… or did he?
Unfortunately for Nixon, NASA’s thirty-billion-dollar swindle failed to distract Congress from writing articles of impeachment against him, eventually forcing his resignation from office.
A hoax within a hoax?
If the moon landing was indeed a hoax, it was quite an elaborate one. In 1999, New York Times columnist and former Nixon speechwriter, William Safire, revealed he had written a speech for the president in the event the Apollo 11 mission failed, with Armstrong and Aldrin dying on the moon.
“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
“These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
“… For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”
As the memory of the moon-landing fades from America’s consciousness and our nation cedes the future of manned space flight to a ganja-smoking billionaire entrepreneur, Safire’s eulogy may prove prophetic. And the people of the New World will embrace the hollow superstitions of the Old, believing one of America’s great achievements to be nothing but a ruse.
Rest in peace, Neil and Buzz.
Top Image: Apollo astronaut on the moon. Photo: NASA