Help for a Moon Hoax Fence Sitter

Someone recently asserted that “his dad” said th moon landings couldn’t be real because blah, blah, blah and that’s impossible, to which I responded with reality. The questioner that came back with these followups:

“What was the radiant barrier [that keeps spacecraft cool] made of?” Several layers of aluminized Mylar (the same stuff that is now used in attics) over a “superinsulation” of alternating layers of Kapton and glass-fiber cloth.

“Water cooled, [referring to spacesuit thermal control undergarments] that must have weighted a lot” No. Tiny plastic tubes filled with glycol and water were sewn to a mesh garment worn over the permanent waer garment, so one layer over the underwear. The purpose was mostly to remove the astronaut’s body heat. The suit reflected much of the sun’s heat and the remaining extremes between the sunlit and shadow sides canceled each other out. Movement, air circulation, and the water garment ensured no hot or cold spots. Thermo regulation was absolutely not a problem..

“If I remember correctly, the suits were at 250 F which is 121 C, at 100 C water boils, so the air inside the suit, when reaching 100 C would make the body of the astronauts burn and the blood boil.” No, dark surfaces would have heated up, but the white suit and reflective visor, combined with insulation, prevented the surface from getting so hot and prevented the heat from reaching the astronaut. Air entering the suit was cold anyway, because it was stored under pressure. The was not a problem. Firefighting gear has it far, far harder.

“Since they were in low pressure inside the suits, they would have boiled at even less temperature.” Yes they would, at about 170 F, but that was never going to happen.

“And cooling that water would be really hard.” No, cooling that water was simplicity itself. When they were in the shade or resting they didn’t need to cool it much at all. Gemini suits had no water cooled undergarment at all, and they worked just fine until the astronauts started doing physical work. In the A7 suits used by Apollo, when they we in the sun for a while or getting hot, a porous plate sublimator was used to cool a heat exchanger, which cooled the glycol loop. The Astronaut could control how much of the glycol went through the heat exchanger soas to avoid overcooling. This method is still used today, and was used for supplemental cooling on the LEM as well.

“Handling half a tank of water in the tank would make a pretty unstable astronaut” Good thinking! Naturally, the engineers thought of that. Water for the sublimator was stored in two flexible bladders, a primary holding about a gallon and a secondary holding about half that much. This were no more problem than today’s CamelBak packs. Really, the inertia of the entire PLSS pack was more of an issue than water slosh.

“Since they were in space, I suppose those are psi absolute, which would mean about 1/3 of the pressure at sea level.” Correct. Apollo spacesuits were pressurized to 5.5 psi of pure oxygen.

“Bizarre that they would use only oxygen given Gus Grissom’s death because of that in 1967.” Not at all. They still use pure oxygen in suits to this day. The reason is that inflating to 14.7 PSI would cause the suits to balloon and make flexing the joints too hard for the wearer, and adding nitrogen to the mix would make the life support pack far more complicated, prone to failure, and tricky to operate. Fire is no more a risk at 5.5PSI and 100% O2 than normal air at sea level. The Apollo 1 pad fire was caused by procedural oversights that led to the cabin being filled with more than sea level pressure of pure O2—a very bad idea. Also, suits are carefully constructed to prevent any source of sparks, and the astronaut can’t exactly forget and light up a stogie.

Hamilton standard’s tests showed that a man can live on pure O2 down to 3.7PSI–provided it’s all oxygen.

“If they weighted 1/6 of earth gravity they would have been able to kick a ball and put it into orbit.” No they wouldn’t. The minimum speed for lunar orbit is well over 2km per second.

“Without atmosphere and with an escape velocity of just 2 m/s, even an astronaut jumping would have been able to put himself into orbit,” No, because we are talking about the moon, where the escape velocity is 2.38 THOUSAND m/s. Even if your astronauts brought a clown cannon, they aren’t entering orbit.

“all the recorded videos and photos show the moon as having its horizon between 100 and 200 m” No they don’t. The horizon on the moon is about 2 kilometers away if you are standing on a plain, and that’s what all the photos show, but there is nothing to give a visual sense of scale.You can’t tell how far away a lunar mountain is without looking at a map. Jack Schmitt took this telephoto image of the Apollo 17 LEM from a rise 3 km away, with mountains in the background:


Or consider this shot of Apollo 15 from its ALSEP site, which all by itself it about 100 meters away:

as15-82-11054 thru as15-82-11058

Or maybe you mean like this shot of Pete Conrad inspecting the Surveyor 3 probe that landed two years before he did, with the LM in the distance (note the big antenna used to improve TV reception back on earth.)


And lest you are concerned by the lack of a crater beneath the probe—like Apollo, it was designed to cut off the engine early to avoid disturbing the soil it was sent to sample. It malfunctioned, and ended up bouncing 35 feet in the air, no worse for wear.

“A normal person would have recorded around himself…that is what we do when we explore, naturally, we go up and take a look.” Yeah, they did that. I believe it was Apollo 12 in which the commander opened the docking hatch first, then stood up to survey the landing site before going down through the door to the surface. Every major site of every surface mission produced at least one panoramic photo.

“wouldn’t it be normal for astronauts to record the stuff they left on the moon as they take off? You mean turn around and take a picture as they were lifting off? You mean like this movie frame from the Apollo 14 liftoff?


Yes Virginia, We Really Did Land On The Moon

For those genuinely in doubt as to whether we sent twelve men to walk on the moon, some facts.

220px-alsep_as15-85-114681. We left retroreflectors on the moon, just like bicycle reflectors only bigger and not as pretty. Visit the McDonald Observatory or any other with the proper laser range-finding equipment and you can see for yourself that the laser energy returns when the telescope is pointed at the designated landing sites and does not return elsewhere.
2. Two recent survey missions have photographed the landing sites. The LRO has dipped low enough to resolve not just shadows and disturbed soil, but the descent stages and rovers we left behind. No word yet on the poop bags, but they’re here somewhere.584640main_apollo17-right-670

3. We have films of much of the research and testing, and if you know enough about science and engineering to know what you are looking at, it’s all clearly the real thing.

4. We still have much of the hardware. For example, F5 engines from the Saturn-V are currently being disassembled and in some cases fired as part of an effort to develop a cheaper follow-on engine. They clearly are what they claim to be. I’ve personally seen the Saturn-V stack on display in Houston, and it is clearly authentic. Among other things, a  prop would not be made of the same materials, and it would either have phony components or all off the shelf 1960’s hardware. But much of the Apollo hardware was custom developed at great expense, and if you know what you’re looking at, you can see it’s for real. A prop or fake would not have details that only an engineer (or nerd who’s studied the blueprints) would notice.


Workmen at JSC in Houston inside the SLA (the adapter where the LM sat during launch), looking up at the heat shield of a real Service Module without an SPS engine installed. The hole at top (behind the strut) is an access port for fueling, venting, and testing the SPS propellants.

5. We have thousands of pictures taken on the moon, which clearly are what they claim to be. All alleged problems with these materials only demonstrate the ignorance of the conspiracy nuts alleging the problems.

For example: Many conspirators complain that the lander didn’t kick up a lunar dust cloud. Of course it didn’t. Billowing dust can only occur in an atmosphere. In vacuum, each particle—no matter how small–flies off in a straight parabolic arc never to be seen again.

For another example: Motions of the flag claimed to be caused by air currents are—in every case—clearly inertial movements or static electric attraction caused by astronaut movement. The very movements the nutters complain about prove the landings were real. (For many other such examples, visit Bad Astronomy)

6. We have hundreds of pounds of moon rocks. Granted, you need access to them and you need to be a geologist with the right credentials to evaluate them, but at least some, such at the helium-3 impregnated rocks from by Apollo 17, could not have been produced on earth.

7. The Soviets were watching everything we did. They would have ratted us out. They would have LOVED to rat us out.

8. Thousands of people saw it. Not just the spectacular launches and the sailors on the recovery ships, either. Thousands in Hawaii, for example witnessed the Trans-Lunar-Injection burns.

 Others around the world watched the spacecraft on its way to the moon:

Hatfield photo of Apollo 8 fuel dump

Apollo 11 streak in time exposure from SA.

Apollo 11 was observed by thousands in British Columbia, and the streak in this photo from Table Mountain South Africa shows the spacecraft in time exposure, midway through the lunar coast phase.


NASA telescopic photo of Apollo 13 and gas cloud

9. We have documentation in the form of operations manuals for the command and service modules, the LEM, the suits, the rover and much more–all completely authentic and sprinkled across the world including depository libraries like the one at Louisiana Tech where I read them before the conspiracy nuttery had gotten any legs.

10. This guy:

I’ll be posting in more detail soon about specific conspiracy claims and how what they really prove is the ignorance of those making them.

We went to the moon. It was expensive, but like Frosty the Snowman, we’ll be back again some day.

Dear Moon Hoax Conspiracy Nuts

Dear Moon Hoax Conspiracy Nuts:

Here is how you know when a moon landing is faked: In “Transformers: Dark of the Moon, they didn’t properly account for lunar gravity or for the vacuum and so they animated all the dust wrong. In every single image recorded by NASA on the moon, the dust behaves as it only could on the moon.

The spaceship impact at the beginning of the movie is WRONG. First, a ship traveling at that speed would have rebounded in the weak lunar gravity, and would almost certainly have cartwheeled as it plowed through the lunar soil.

Second, dust CAN NOT BILLOW in a vacuum. On Earth, dust billows (that is, roils out in overlapping spherical clouds) because it is running into and dragging against the air. Likewise, dust lingers in the air because there IS air to linger in. On the moon, every dropped object, from a spaceship to a mote of talcum power, travels along a ballistic trajectory with zero resistance. (This is actually one of the classic arguments through which conspiracy advocates shoot themselves in the foot. The Apollo lander didn’t create a dust cloud BECAUSE IT WAS ON THE MOON, WHERE DUST CLOUDS ARE IMPOSSIBLE!)

When a ship plows up dust in a vacuum, the dust grains travel out in flattened arcs and are gone. A dust cloud cannot rise, because there is no air to push against and suspend the particles. Dust clouds CAN NOT HAPPEN in a vacuum (except in orbit, where there is no gravity, but that’s a very different type of cloud). In the Apollo landing footage, ejecta from the engine can clearly be seen through the window flying out in rays, just as it should, and leaving no cloud.

When an astronaut kicks up dust on the moon, the dust DOES NOT linger around his foot as it does in the movie—it immediately falls to the ground as it does in all the NASA footage of the Apollo landings. There are only two ways this footage could have been produced in 1969: 1) on the moon, 2) on a sound stage built into a cargo plane that can simulate lunar gravity during a dive.

Finally, when the astronauts in the movie investigate the lunr crash site, they disturb dust which falls down through openings producing a slick reveal. Trouble is, it was shot on a sound stage and the dust accelerates under normal Earth gravity.

So there you go. NASA: Real deal. Transformers:Phony baloney. If you still can’t tell the difference, go back to third grade and spend more time in science class, In the meantime DON’T VOTE, because if you aren’t scientifically literate, your aren’t any kind of literate.