There has been no shortage of conspiracy theories about the Apollo space program’s Moon landings. Usually, the hypotheses focus on the idea that the landings never happened at all. But the latest conspiracy speculation from the UFOmania YouTube channel has something a little different to add to the pot.
NASA’s Apollo mission to put humans on the Moon got under way in 1961. It took place after President John F. Kennedy told Congress that a new goal had been set for the U.S. space program. Kennedy said that NASA would now dedicate its resources to “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” This was to happen by the end of the 1960s.
This ambitious goal, set in the context of the space race with the USSR, was actually achieved pretty much bang on deadline on July 21, 1969. On that day, Neil Armstrong clambered down from the Apollo 11 lunar module on to the surface of the Moon. Strictly speaking, the goal wasn’t truly completed until the three-man crew traveled safely back to Earth which they did three days later.
After that Moon landing, another five followed. One, Apollo 13, had to be aborted because an oxygen tank exploded on board the spaceship two days into the mission. Fortunately, the three astronauts on that voyage were able to make a safe return to Earth using the landing module as a rescue vehicle. However, not everyone was convinced about the veracity of these journeys to space.
Bill Kaysing was one such naysayer. And his book We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, which was self-published in 1976, has been widely credited as one of the most influential works in the Moon landing conspiracy genre. A man with wide-ranging beliefs about a variety of conspiracies, Kaysing insisted that the Moon landings had been entirely faked.
Other notable allegations of fakery have come from a range of organizations and individuals. One memorable claim came from the Flat Earth Society. According to this association, the whole enterprise was staged by Hollywood with the collaboration of Walt Disney, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke and movie director Stanley Kubrick.
Author Milton William Cooper, meanwhile, believed that the entire Moon landing operation had been shot on a huge sound stage. In an interesting variation, French writer Philippe Lheureux claimed that the Moon landings had indeed taken place, but that NASA had published staged pictures to hide valuable scientific detail that was evident in the real photographs.
Over in the Soviet Union, politician Yury Mukhin also had a contribution for the conspiracy bandwagon. He asserted that the Communist Party Central Committee had assisted the U.S. government in faking the landings. So, Moon landing conspiracy theorists have been far from rare over the years.
But back to the latest conspiracy theory from UFOmania, which concerns one specific Moon landing: the fifth and penultimate one. That was the 1972 Apollo 16 mission crewed by John Young, who was in command; Charles Duke, who piloted the lunar module; and Ken Mattingly, who helmed the command module.
Apollo 16 launched into a blue sky broken only by a few fluffy clouds on April 16, 1972, from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. After some technical glitches had delayed the launch by a month, everything went smoothly on the day. Twelve minutes after lift-off, the Saturn V rocket had propelled the three astronauts safely into orbit.
As the astronauts admired the view of Earth below them, the ship departed the planet’s orbit and sped through space towards the Moon at 22,000 mph. On the fourth day of the mission, the craft arrived at its destination. The astronauts were scheduled to land on the Moon the next day.
A little more than 96 hours after the start of the mission, Young and Duke undocked the lunar module from the command module and prepared to land. The lunar module descended to the Moon’s surface and landed just 890 feet from the target spot. They were on the Moon.
Young and Duke now had three days ahead of them on the surface. The astronauts took a break for some food before resting up in advance of the next day’s Moon walk. The following morning Young left the lunar module first, making him the ninth human to set foot on the Moon.
Now deploying the mission’s Moon buggy, the two men set about the various tasks they’d been assigned. Over the three days, the men completed three Moon walks during which they explored various craters, collected samples and took pictures. And it was one of those pictures which, years later in 2018, so excited the folks at UFOmania.
One photograph in particular excited them the most. It’s a shot which, they say, shows something entirely out of the ordinary on the surface of the Moon. The rather blurry lump in the background, to their eyes at any rate, is actually a building. And what on earth is that doing on the Moon?
The photograph in question was apparently taken by Charles Duke during the third and last Moon walk. And the commentary on the YouTube video revealing this discovery by UFOmania, says, in a weirdly robotic voice, “This is new evidence as to what’s on the Moon.”
The YouTube footage goes on to show a handful of other photographs that, according to the video makers, also reveal construction activity on the Moon. The photo from the Apollo 16 mission that UFOmania has posted to YouTube is titled “Lunar Base revealed in Apollo image.”
The only other explanatory text attached to the video, which is dated April 2018, is the somewhat enigmatic, “Apollo 16 habitat building, space ship and extra personnel on the Moon.” Where the extra personnel are is a mystery. Perhaps they’re hiding behind the “habitat building” or maybe they’re even hard at work inside it.
In the comments below the video, viewers offer their opinions. DanRsturboS1 is skeptical, writing, “How the hell is this real when NASA never went there in the first place.” ComplexityScience has a similar opinion, offering, “There was no Moon landing, ask Stanley Kubrick (if he were alive).” Zach Mansur, meanwhile, confines himself to the brief but pithy comment, “That’s a rock.”
In fact, the idea of putting buildings on the Moon is not entirely without foundation. According to a 2016 Daily Mail story, some NASA scientists had been working on the idea of a Moon base. They believed such a station, accommodating ten people, could be built on the Moon by 2022. And the European Space Agency even believes that the base could be built using 3D printers. But for now, Zach Mansur’s “That’s a rock” comment looks to be spot on.