Forty years ago we landed on the moon. It is consistently voted ‘mankind’s greatest acheivement’ in any poll that allows votes on such matters. For the next few years more people and more missions landed there and collected moon rocks, left reflectors, conducted various experiments and so on.
This inspired my parents’ generation to look to the stars and dream of what the future may hold. It was to be filled with space travel, moon stations, settlements on Mars. They looked at their children (people of my generation) with a certain amount of envy. We would live under the sea or in floating cities and have flying cars, jet packs and robots to do our work.
Then… a couple of decades of boredom. Sure, in the 80s we got advances in satellite TV, computers, mobile phones, and the space shuttle, but they were all pretty shit really. It was like everyone gave up on looking to the future and focused instead on politics, buying stuff, and wearing fluorescent socks. The world turned dull.
The 90s were better. A bit. Space stations were a bit crappy back in the 70s and 80s, but were finally showing a bit more promise. Mobile phones were finally small enough to carry in a pocket. Computer games got more colour. None of the cool stuff our parents dreamed of but it was a start.
This decade has at least brought us some cooler stuff. Slim laptops and wireless internet mean that you can play games, have video phonecalls, and look at a huge chunk of humankind naked pretty much anywhere. Our phones now take pictures, have games, surf the internet, have apple applications and can phone anyone on the planet (who has a phone, obviously). There are hundreds of satellites that can bring us thousands of channels of largely shite TV in High Definition. The space station is growing.
Also, there are new superpowers that seem to be kickstarting a new space race. At long bloody last. I firmly believe that countries like China will make America and Europe panic enough to start planning things space-wise again. The advantage the USSR had over the West was that they could chuck a few cosmonauts into space and hope for the best. If they died, so what. Apparently there is a chilling recording of a pre-Gregarin cosmonaut shouting that his country has killed him and they are all a bunch of bastards as he drifted around in space with no hope of return. The problem with the West’s space missions is that we are wimpy enough to want our astronauts to get back safetly. China has no such scruples. They just go for it. Here’s their plan for the next eight years:
In 2009-2010, build a space station in orbit.
In 2010-2011, land an unmanned probe on the Moon.
By 2013, launch a rocket with triple the lifting power of the nation’s largest. It would be able to carry a payload of 27 tons to space, three times today’s nine tons.
In 2015-2016, land another unmanned probe on the Moon to collect soil samples and return them to Earth in preparation for a human moon base.
In 2017, land a man on the Moon.
(Thanks to www.spacetoday.org for this)
In case you are interested, a Chinese spaceman is a Taikonaut, which sounds pretty nifty.
So the race is back on.
We are now also trying to race them to Mars. An actual planet. Something that may finally pip the moon landings to the number one spot.
Plus, if we go to Mars there will be more and more proof to shut the ridiculous conspiracy theorists up.
On top of the superpowers, we have now allowed independant enterprises to enter the space fray. Including the former Soviet Union and Virgin. You can now pay to become a space tourist. They have started to advertise trips around the moon. Yet another nail in the conspiracy morons’ coffins.
You may have guessed by now that I get pissed off by people that claim we haven’t been to the moon. What they have done is look at all the stuff NASA has put out and rather than construct any decent arguments, have simply picked holes in the ‘proof’. Gathered together it seems like a strong argument and this is where the gullible become convinced. But it is easy to take every single one of their flimsy arguments apart.
Let’s look at a few:
The flag seems to wave in the wind. This can’t happen in a vacuum.
First off – they claim the moon landings were filmed in a studio. I work in TV and have never seen a studio with open windows. They are always deep in the building behind big heavy doors, usually a couple of them. Soundproofed for obvious reasons. Where did the wind come from in this ludicrous scenario? I repeat – there is now way wind can get into a studio. They use fans if they need that effect. The flag only ever moves when someone is holding the flimsy aluminium pole! The fact that it remains completely stationary for hours at a go when no one is touching it seems to be a fact that is overlooked. There’s no wind fluttering it then.
It’s impossible to get through the Van Allen belt – the radiation would kill them.
This is bollocks. The Van Allen belt would take about 30 minutes to cross and astronauts can be easily shielded from the solar radiation. One person who says this part of the conspiracy is crap and easily disproved is… wait for it… Professor Van Allen. Apparently conspiracy buffs know more than he does about this belt.
There are multiple light sources.
Yes there are. In a vacuum, light is very reflective. There are light sources on the craft, from the astronauts, from the sun, and from the Earth. Night-time on Earth is rarely pitch black because of the sun reflecting off the moon. This is the same on the moon except the earth is bigger and shinier.
I could go on but won’t. A lot more of the arguments are along the lines of: on a rock you can sort of see something that looks like numbers like you get on props. I can’t even be bothered to talk about this.
Evidence that we have been there apart from the footage is numerous.
Moonrocks have been collected and brought back to earth and have been carbon dated and proved to be older than any rock found on Earth. These rocks have been studied after having been brought back to Earth by the Apollo missions, the Russian ‘Luna’ missions (remote probes) and ejecta that have fallen to Earth. They are all distinctly different from Earth rock but similar to each other – including the supposedly faked Apollo missions. Another distinguishing feature is that they are completely devoid of any minerals found in Earth’s water. They are unique. Unless the American, Russian and geological collectors are lying, the carbon dating people are lying and chemists are lying.
They have left a reflector on the moon that scientists (and others) regularly fire a laser at, and have it return, so that we can accurately measure the distance from the Earth to the moon. Apparently it is pulling away from us. Which is interesting if you believe all these science types.
Other factors such as the amount of people who would have to lie to keep this a secret are pretty convincing. The theorists try and say that it was all ‘compartmentalised’ so no one really knew what the others were up to. 400,000 worked for a decade to make the moon landings possible. If this compartmentalisation was true there would still have to be a couple of thousand people in on the secret. Given that even the Royal Family are ratted out by their butlers and celebs secrets are always getting out, I find it hard to believe this many people would keep quiet.
For me though, the best bit of evidence flies against the principle idea that underlies the moon-landing-is-a-hoax theorists. Most believe that the whole thing was faked because of the cold war. The thing is, if there was any doubt at all that it was faked, any problem with the science or the pictures or the videos or anything – surely the USSR would have been the first to accuse the Americans of faking it. They never have. Not once. The only people who have made this accusation are ill-informed non-scientists trying to pick holes in the established facts.
So there. In fact, I need not have gone on for so long. It has all been pretty thoroughly debunked already. I think I just get annoyed because it feels like people are trying to lessen an amazing achievement. We need more of them. Plus, if humanity is to survive we need to get off this planet in case an asteroid hits.
I’ve heard people complain that we’ve screwed up this planet enough and maybe it would be a good thing that we died out. Nice thought. I just hope they don’t have kids as they obviously don’t care enough about them. Another argument is that we should spend more money on hospitals instead. You know, so we can all live longer and over-populate the planet even more, forever and ever building more hospitals. Good plan.
I say: let’s go to Mars. Let’s dream of the future. We should ban people who claim the moon landing is a hoax for a start. Damn conspiracy nutters. I just hope the aliens, men in black, and David Icke let us. They’re in control after all.