The Soviet Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, may have beaten the United States of America into space, but this didn’t deter NASA, as they clearly had their sights set on landing a module on the Moon. Eight years after Yuri’s history making voyage into space, the United States of America landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the surface of the Moon, July 20, 1969. Sadly Yuri wasn’t around to witness the continuation of humanities’ space exploration as he died the year before in a plane crash at just thirty eight, which was heavily surrounded by controversy and conspiracy theories.
One Giant Leap for Mankind
Just before Christmas, 1968, three American Astronauts set off on a week long mission; to reach the Moon, orbit it, and return home. Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders, left the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in the first manned flight of the giant Saturn V rocket (which I saw the immense scale of when I visited Kennedy in 2000). The mission was a success, and paved the way for President Kennedy‘s wishes of a lunar landing by the end of the decade.
“I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” – JFK 1961
July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sit at the top of the three hundred and sixty three foot tall Saturn V rocket ready to be rocketed into history. It takes just twelve minutes to reach the Earth‘s orbit, and three days to reach the orbit of the Moon, where Collins remains, and Aldrin and Armstrong make the descent to the Sea of Tranquility, on the surface of the Moon.
July 20, 1969, Armstrong takes his first step onto the lunar module’s ladder and says perhaps one of the most memorable quotes ever:
“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong NASA audio
They spend just two and a half hours on the surface of the Moon, and in that time they collect lunar rock samples, and take photographs. They leave behind an American flag, and a plaque that read:
“Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
Only ten other astronauts have had the privilege in following Armstrong and Aldrin’s footsteps, and the final mission to the Moon was in 1972.
Controversy and conspiracy theories
It’s human nature to be sceptical, and the Moon landing has been questioned and criticised as mere propaganda, but is there any foundations to the theories? This is a subject that I’m extremely familiar with, as I’ve had previous experience with the idiotic Flat Earth movement, and I felt it necessary to research the Moon landing extensively, and the evidence is abundant to back up NASA‘s claims.
The Van Allen Belts
Many conspiracy theorists claim that the Van Allen Belts (radiation surrounding the Earth) would have fried the astronauts, or at least killed them with over–exposure to radiation. The simple fact is the radiation wasn’t strong enough as NASA had already considered this, and they entered the belt during a fluctuation of lower radiation, and they only spent two hours in its vicinity.
The Cold War
The Soviet Union and the United States of America was dangerously close to being on the edge of a war, that could well have become a nuclear conflict. So let’s say that they were far from being buddies, yet when the Soviets beat America into space, the Americans congratulated them, through gritted teeth I’d imagine. When America landed on the Moon, the Soviets congratulated them back. If either had used deception, then surely they would have been called out, as both space agencies would have followed each other’s missions. Yet, no cry of foul play was ever made.
The Apollo lunar missions placed retroreflectors on the surface of the Moon known as laser ranging retroreflectors, and the purpose is to reflect light directly back to where it originated from. Scientists fire lasers at them and they can get to almost pin- point accuracy the distance the Moon is from the Earth. NASA could be lying I hear you cry. Perhaps, but in 1973 the French and Russians carried out an unmanned mission to Mars to place their own reflectors using the Lunokhod 2 rover.
Not only are the reflectors on the Moon, but so are the undisturbed footprints of the astronauts who walked there, and abandoned equipment. But how can we be certain of this? Well NASA has had the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter circling the Moon for ten years, and it’s photographed the evidence left behind.
It’s natural to be sceptical about things that appear far fetched, but there were thousands upon thousands of people involved in the Moon expeditions, and there’s not been one single whistleblower. There is one simple explanation why, we went to the Moon!