15 November 2002
Opinion - General (Strange)
Why the “Moon Hoax” Won’t Go Away
How to verify the lunar landing
by Alan Breakstone
by Alan Breakstone

According to a recent Fox television documentary and conspiracy sites on the Web, a sizeable fraction of the American public are convinced that the Apollo missions never happened. Instead, people believe that Apollo was a hoax perpetrated by the US government. Now, thirty years after the last astronauts left the moon, NASA finds itself trying to convince the general public that the lunar landings really happened.

Since space is always kept beyond the experience of the general public, it is difficult for many to take the surviving astronauts at their word. And images can be easily faked. Thus it is easy for even well-educated citizens to believe that Apollo -- in essence, the entire Space Age -- was a hoax.

NASA employees and noted space experts are publishing logical theses proving that the Apollo missions were real. But logic isn't going to convince many people in an increasingly anti-rational society.

Many favor the hoax theory because people are denied the opportunity to see the Apollo landing sites themselves. The best way to prove that the Space Age happened is to let the public go to the moon.

As long as NASA (and ESA, NASDA, the USAF, etc.) restricts space travel to a mere handful of civil servants, people will remain skeptical of the reality of spaceflight. If NASA continues its opposition to a thriving space tourism industry, no member of the general public will ever visit the moon or anywhere else beyond earth. That ensures the growth of the "moon hoax" conspiracy fantasy.

But if NASA relinquishes its monopoly of human spaceflight and permits space tourism, its honesty about Apollo will be confirmed by direct public experience.

Unfortunately for the space agency, that means the private development of cheap, simple launch vehicles and spacecraft, making NASA's launch vehicle bureaucracy irrelevant.

But NASA must accept that its role in space technology will be greatly diminished as a result. Otherwise humanity will be denied the stars, and the Space Age will be seen only as a sad delusion of the 20th century.
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Alan Breakstone 15 November 2002
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