The 1969 moon landing, accomplished by the United States of America and watched by the entire world, is one of the most iconic moments in human history. Spurred on by the words of President Kennedy and the rivalry of the Space Race with the Soviets, the Americans put together their best minds and bravest individuals to pull off a feat many thought was impossible, and on the first try, to boot. However, there are those who would have you believe all the Americans really pulled off was a massive moon landing hoax. Various moon landing conspiracy theories abound, but most center around the idea that the US merely staged and filmed a fake moon landing in order to score a victory against their Cold War opponents.
To be clear, there is no hard evidence that the original moon landing, nor any subsequent lunar missions, was falsified in any way, and there is a mountain of evidence to prove that it did, in fact, occur. However, the conspiracy still lives on, and belief in it may actually be growing. It stands to reason that there are at least a few pieces of the theory that continue to be convincing to a modern audience.
The number of people who believe the moon landings, or at least the original mission, were faked is quite astonishing, and enough to qualify it as more than just a fringe conspiracy. A 1999 poll found that 6% of Americans doubted that man had walked on the moon, and that number has since grown. The prevalence of the Internet - and the fact newer generations didn't watch the moon landing live - are blamed for the rise in lunar doubters.
The amount of people who buy into the conspiracy is larger outside of the US than within it, with one study finding that 52% of Brits polled thought the whole thing was faked.
The idea that the United States faked the entirety of the moon landing would mean the government and countless Americans conspired to defraud their own people and the rest of the world. A crime that grand would require a powerful motivation, and there's definitely one when it comes to the moon landing. The Americans were embroiled in the Space Race with the Soviets, who had already beaten them twice by putting the first satellite - and human being - into orbit.
The US really needed a win, especially since JFK had boldly declared the country would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The moon landing occurred in 1969, just in time to fulfill Kennedy's promise - a premise which skeptics challenge.
Moon landing conspiracy theorists point to several pieces of "hard" evidence when making their case that the mission was faked. The most prominent is probably the American flag planted on the moon's surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, which appears to be fluttering in the wind in photographs. The problem with this information is that there's no wind on the moon. This evidence is explained away by the fact this was no ordinary flag.
It was designed with support rods that held it aloft in order to make up for the lack of wind, and those rods got bent out of shape during assembly, leading the astronauts to hastily adjust them. What appears to be "fluttering" is actually just the flag being crumpled up and straightened out a few times.
Many point to the landscape directly under the Apollo lunar module as a primary piece of evidence that the moon landing was faked. The land there appears relatively undisturbed, and there's no sign of a blast crater or anything of the like. However, experts in the logistics of the mission say there's no reason to expect any sort of crater.
The Eagle lander throttled way back on its engines just before landing. It barely hovered before landing, thus disturbing very little of the lunar landscape. The idea of a gigantic thruster blast coming from the bottom of the module is the work of science fiction and imagination, and according to experts, was not necessary for the landing.