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Millions Still Believe the 1969 Moon Landing Was a Hoax

In this April 1972 photo made available by NASA, John Young salutes the U.S. flag at the Descartes landing site on the moon during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity.

Despite the huge amount of evidence, the dust and rock samples, the television footage, and the hundreds of thousands of people who made it happen, polls show as many as 6% of Americans believe the Apollo 11 astronauts never landed on the moon.

Conspiracy theorists continue to insist the entire mission 50 years ago was an elaborate hoax, produced at the Area 51 Air Force testing range in Nevada or on a Hollywood movie soundstage by legendary director Stanley Kubrick.

In Exclusive VOA Interviews, NASA Astronauts Reflect on Historic Moon Missions
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The rumors first got traction just a year after the first moon landing, when the Vietnam War had led millions of Americans to question their government.

A July1970 poll found 30% of Americans declaring Apollo 11 to be a fake. That number remained relatively high throughout the '70s, when several books were published and a 1978 film about a phony mission to Mars, Capricorn One, convinced many that a moon landing was also a scripted piece of high-technology bunk.

Art Harmon, a former legislative director for the U.S. House or Representatives, currently leads the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration.

He has two words for conspiracy theorists who say men never went to the moon – "absolute nuts."

"They’re just troublemakers. There's always people who will say 'this never happened' or 'that never happened.' They’re just trying to divide people. We went," he said.

But those who insist the U.S. did not put astronauts on the moon have claimed their own "evidence" to a faked landing.

They question why the flag astronaut Neil Armstrong planted on the moon could not possibly be rippling, because there is no air on the moon. In reality, the astronauts bent the metal frame holding the flag, causing the ripples.

The conspiracy minded claim photos the astronauts took on the moon do not show any stars in the background. In reality, the cameras were unable to capture the faint light emitted by stars,

If the moon landing was real, they ask, why didn't the lander scatter dust when it touched down? In reality, the lander was traveling horizontally much of the time and the thrusters that controlled its landing were not pointed down. Radiation from the sun also made the dust highly charged and it clung to the moon’s surface.

Every claim that no one went to the moon can be easily explained by science, physics or evidence brought back to Earth, Harmon said. He adds the conspiracy theories are "an insult to those 400,000 Americans who worked to get us to the moon and back."

Those hundreds of thousands of people, including scientists, engineers and factory workers, were scattered around the world.

One astronaut who actually walked on the moon in 1969 has no tolerance for those who call it a massive hoax.

When one conspiracy theorist challenged Buzz Aldrin and called him a liar, Aldrin punched him in the face.