Did man really walk on the Moon or was it the ultimate camera trick, asks David Milne?
"How can the flag be fluttering?" the 47 year old American kept asking himself, "when there's no wind on the atmosphere-free Moon?"
That moment was to be the beginning of an incredible Space odyssey for the self-taught engineer from New Jersey. He started investigating the Apollo Moon landings, scouring every NASA film, photo and report with a growing sense of wonder, until finally reaching an awesome conclusion: America had never put a man on the Moon.
The giant leap for mankind was fake.
It is of course the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories. But Rene has put all his findings into a startling book entitled NASA Mooned America. Published by himself, it's now a highly-valued collector's item as well as a compelling read. (NASA MOONED AMERICA, 186 pages, 1992).
The story lifts off in 1961 with Russia firing Yuri Gagarin into space, leaving a panicked America trailing in the space race. At an emergency meeting of Congress, President Kennedy proposed the ultimate face saver: to put a man on the Moon. With an impassioned speech he secured the plan and an unbelievable 40 billion dollars.
And so, says Rene (and a growing number of astro-physicists who are beginning to agree with him), the great Moon hoax was born. Between 1969 and 1972, seven Apollo ships headed to the Moon. Six claim to have made it, with the ill fated Apollo 13 - whose oxygen tanks apparently exploded halfway - being the only casualties. But with the exception of the moon rocks, which could have been easily mocked up in a lab, the photographs and film footage are the only proof that the Eagle ever landed.
And Rene believes they're fake.
For a start, he says, the TV footage was hopeless. The world tuned in to watch what looked like two blurred white ghosts gamboling across the screen. Part of the reason for the low quality was that, strangely, NASA provided the nations' TV networks with no direct link up.
So networks actually had to film "man's greatest achievement" from a TV screen in Houston - a deliberate ploy, says Rene, so that nobody could properly examine it. By contrast, the still photos were stunning. Yet that's just the problem. The astronauts took thousands of pictures, each one perfectly exposed and sharply focused. Not one was badly composed or even blurred. As Rene points out, that's not all:
- The cameras had no Light meters or view finders. So the astronauts achieved this feat without being able to see what they were doing. Their film stock was unaffected by the intense peaks and powerful cosmic radiation on the Moon, conditions that should have made it useless.
- They managed to adjust their cameras, change film and swap filters in pressurized gloves. It should have been almost impossible to bend their fingers. Award winning British photographer David passer is convinced the pictures are fake. His astonishing findings are explained alongside the pictures on these pages, but the basic points are as follows:
- The shadows could only have been created with multiple light sources and, in particular, powerful spotlights. But the only light source on the Moon is the sun.
- The pictures are so perfect, each one would have taken a slick advertising agency days to put them together.
But the astronauts managed it repeatedly.
David Persey believes the mistakes were deliberate, left there by "whistle blowers", who were keen for the truth to one day get out. If Persey is right and the pictures are fake, then we've only NASA's word that man ever went to the Moon. And, asks Rene, why would anyone fake pictures of an event that actually happened?
The questions don't stop there. Outer space is awash with deadly radiation that emanates from solar flares firing out from the sun. Standard astronauts orbiting earth in near space, like those who recently fixed the Hubble telescope, are protected by the Earth's Van Allen belt. But the Moon is 240,000 miles distant, way outside this safety band. And, during the Apollo flights, astronomical data shows there were no less than 1,485 such flares.
John Mauldin, a physicist who works for NASA, once said shielding at least two meters thick would be needed to protect the astronauts. Yet the walls of the Lunar Landers which took astronauts from the spaceship to the moon's surface were, said NASA, "about the thickness of heavy duty aluminum foil".
How could that stop this deadly radiation? And if the astronauts were protected by their space suits, why didn't rescue workers use such protective gear at the Chernobyl meltdown, which released only a fraction of the dose astronauts would encounter?
Not one Apollo astronaut ever contracted cancer - not even the Apollo 16 crew who were on their way to the Moon when a big flare started.
"They should have been fried," says Rene.
Furthermore, every Apollo mission before number 11 (the first to the Moon) was plagued with an average of 20,000 defects each. Yet, with the exception of Apollo 13, NASA claims there wasn't one major technical problem on any of their Moon missions. Just one effect could have blown the whole thing.
"The odds against these are so unlikely that God must have been the co-pilot," says Rene. Several years after NASA claimed its first Moon landing, Buzz Aldrin "the second man on the Moon" - was asked at a banquet what it felt like to step on to the lunar surface. Aldrin staggered to his feet and left the room crying uncontrollably. It would not be the last time he did this.
"It strikes me he's suffering from trying to live out a very big lie," says Rene.
Aldrin may also fear for his life. Virgil Grissom, a NASA astronaut who baited the Apollo program, was due to pilot Apollo 1 as part of the landings build up. In January 1967, he hung a lemon on his Apollo capsule (in the US, un-road-worthy cars are called lemons) and told his wife Betty: "If there is ever a serious accident in the space program, it's likely to be me."
Nobody knows what fueled his fears, but by the end of the month he and his two co-pilots were dead, burnt to death during a test run when their capsule, pumped full of high pressure pure oxygen, exploded.
Scientists couldn't believe NASA's carelessness - even a chemistry student in high school knows high pressure oxygen is extremely explosive.
In fact, before the first manned Apollo fight even cleared the launch pad, a total of 11 would be astronauts were dead. Apart from the three who were incinerated, seven died in plane crashes and one in a car smash. Now this is a spectacular accident rate.
"One wonders if these 'accidents' weren't NASA's way of correcting mistakes," says Rene. "Of saying that some of these men didn't have the sort of 'right stuff' they were looking for."
NASA won't respond to any of these claims, their press office will only say that the Moon landings happened and the pictures are real. But a NASA public affairs officer called Julian Scheer once delighted 200 guests at a private party with footage of astronauts apparently on landscape. It had been made on a mission film set and was identical to what NASA claimed was the real lunar landscape.
"The purpose of this film," Scheer told the enthralled group, "is to indicate that you really can fake things on the ground, almost to the point of deception." He then invited his audience to "...come to your own decision about whether or not man actually did walk on the Moon".
A sudden attack of honesty? You bet, says Rene, who claims the only real thing about the Apollo missions were the lift-offs. The astronauts simply have to be on board, he says, in case the rocket exploded.
"It was the easiest way to ensure NASA wasn't left with three astronauts who ought to be dead," he claims, adding that they came down a day or so later, out of the public eye (global surveillance wasn't what it is now) and into the safe hands of NASA officials, who whisked them off to prepare for the big day a week later. And now NASA is planning another giant step - project Outreach, a 1 trillion dollar manned mission to Mars.
"Think what they'll be able to mock up with today's computer graphics," says Rene chillingly. "Special effects was in its infancy in the 60s. This time round will have no way of determining the truth."
- Apollo 14 astronaut Allen Shepard played golf on the Moon. In front of a world-wide TV audience, Mission Control teased him about slicing the ball to the right. Yet a slice is caused by uneven air flow over the ball. The Moon has no atmosphere and no air.
- One NASA picture from Apollo 11 is looking up at Neil Armstrong about to take his giant step for mankind. The photographer must have been lying on the planet surface. If Armstrong was the first man on the Moon, then who took the shot?
- The pressure inside a space suit is greater than that of a football. The astronauts should have been puffed out like the Michelin Man, but were seen freely bending their joints.
- The Moon landings took place during the Cold War. Why didn't America make a signal on the moon that could be seen from earth? The PR would have been phenomenal and it could have been easily done with magnesium flares.
- Text from pictures in the article show only two men walked on the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission. Yet the astronaut reflected in the visor has no camera. Who took the shot?
- The flags shadow going behind the rock doesn't match the dark line in the foreground, which looks like a line cord. So the shadow to the lower right of the spaceman must be the flag. Where is his shadow? And why is the flag fluttering? How can the flag be brightly lit when its not facing any light? And where, in all of these shots, are the stars?
- The Lander weighed 17 tons yet the astronauts feet seem to have made a bigger dent in the dust. The powerful booster rocket at the base of the Lunar Lander was fired to slow descent to the moons service. Yet it left no traces of blasting on the dust underneath. It should have created a small crater, yet the booster looks like it's never been fired.
These and many more questions are explored in this book, and that alone is what makes it worth having.