On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo missions there are many who believe it to be a hoax. Conspiracy theories have always been popular and this is one of the biggest.
The landings become even more incredible as we look back at their technological limitations, with computers far less powerful than our desktops today.
Yet with 9 missions to the moon and six successful landings that would be a well over done lie. These ideas are broken down into sections.
They couldn't reach the Moon
The idea that the moon was unreachable stands little scrutiny. The Gemini missions had already extended the time humans could spend in space. The Russians had also sent a probe which reached the moon, indeed it crashed into it after taking a few close up pictures. This was in 1959. Having led the space race for years, Russia would have been the first to say what NASA did was impossible. As the Cold War was a prime motivator in the space race, the Soviets could have won a great propaganda victory in uncovering a hoax.
The development of the Saturn V rocket which allowed men to reach the moon from Apollo 8 onwards would also have been a huge waste of money for a hoax. This money could have gone into developing reusable spacecraft like the Space Shuttle sooner. This is why the Apollo missions were swapped to ensure future space faring exploration.
Missions were unmanned
Some believe the missions were automated by robots because of the radiation astronauts would be exposed. This doesn't fit well alongside the idea that technology wasn't advanced enough. NASA has been open about the trouble Apollo 11 had landing, missing its landing site and almost running out of fuel. Skilled pilots were needed.
Others are even wackier in saying that extraterrestrial technology had to be involved hence the fake photos. It seems one way to make a conspiracy theory plausible, is to stick a crazier one on top.
Not many people have had chances to take a photo on the Moon, but many believe they're experts in the field. Professional independent groups who have studied the photos agree the photos fit what might be expected in those conditions. With the lack of atmosphere and extra light reflected from earth, objects and shadows are likely to look different.
Landings were shot on a set
The videos show how lunar dust that was kicked up went high due to the low gravity. Settled immediately due to a lack of air, on earth they'd form momentary dust clouds. Videos also show that the flag was still, not moving as pictures might suggest. The ripple in fabric a result of its folding during transport. A rod held the flag in place for visual purposes.
There is a theory that Stanley Kubrick director of 2001 was commissioned by NASA to fake the shots. You have to wonder if these people have seen 2001, good for its time but the effects could only fool a kid.
A near disaster when an explosion almost killed the three astronauts during flight. Both Jim Lovell and Fred Hayes would have had to be willing to let their kids believe that they were likely going to die. Children don't make good conspirators, but any of the people in on the conspiracy would have had to have lied to their families and not shown the strain. Pretending all their lives to be proud of a fake accomplishment.
The greatest evidence against a conspiracy is the sheer number of participants who would have to be involved. An estimated 400,000 people helped to get man on the moon. That would require a lot of bribes and a lot of trust in people's dishonesty. Not many people could imagine taking such a lie to their death. For example Jack Swaggert on the near fatal Apollo 13 mission, died later of cancer, making no great revelation.
Of course the great success and real purpose of such conspiracy writing is the money it generates. Yet how so many people prefer to believe mankind failed and lied, rather than achieved great things is perhaps the greatest mystery.