Buzz Aldrin And The Iconic Moon Landing Photo

It was that fateful day, July 20th, 1969. That was the day that the Eagle 1 space module landed on the moon. While it wasn’t the last time that a mission would be sent to the moon, it was the first and most iconic, covered in all sorts of media even to this day. And of the two men that set foot on the Moon that day, one of them still has a lot to say about his trip there, as well as some of the iconic photos they took on the moon’s surface. That man is none other than Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and what he had to say could change everything.

Photos On The Moon

Taken Out Of Context?

The interview was in 2016 at the Science Museum in London. During a wide-ranging Q&A, the topic of the moon’s photos was brought up. And it was during this interview that Aldrin let slip what seemed like a startling admission. He said that this aspect of the Moon landing had been “so well stage”. This could mean what conspiracy theorist had thought for quite a while, that the Moon landing was a hoax the entire time. Back in 1961, President John F. Kennedy told a join Congressional session that America would land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. So it was supposed to be an excellent showing of American ingenuity and exceptionalism… right?

Space Race

Or perhaps, the president just wanted to get something over the Soviets. It’s important to remember that the Moon landing happened during the Cold War. The US and USSR conflicting ideologies were already clashing on the battlefield. The Space Race was simply another battlefront. The US was already behind in the Space Race in 1961. The first orbiting satellite was Sputnik, launched in 1957. And the first man in space had been the Russian, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. So, America had the motivation to one up the USSR. But the means were a completely different story.

Road To The Moon

Regardless, JFK’s pledge led to an acceleration in the development of NASA’s space program. First were the Gemini missions, which perfected various operations and maneuvers that would be essential for a Moon-landing project. Buzz Aldrin had actually flown on the Gemini XII, the final mission of the Gemini project, in 1966. The next step, the Apollo missions, didn’t get off to a great start. The three-man crew aboard the Apollo 1 all tragically died during a take-off practice drill in 1967. But by October of the following year things seemed to be back on track.

The Next Step

The next crewed mission, Apollo 7, successfully launched a three-man crew consisting of Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham. They orbited the Earth 163 time, being the first American spaceflight mission to transmit live TV images to the public. Apollo missions 8,9, and 10 brought everything closer to the goal, but the truly historic mission was Apollo 11.

Apollo 11

The Apollo 11 mission is remembered as one of the most famous, if not the most famous, missions to space was the Apollo 11 mission. The crew consisted of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and, of course, Buzz Aldrin. Armstrong was the mission commander, Collins was the command module pilot, and Aldrin piloted the lunar module.

The Launch

Apollo 11 launched July 20th, 1969 from Cape Kennedy in Florida. Freed from Earth’s gravity by a 363-foot tall Saturn V rocket, the command module, Columbia, made its way to the Moon. The whole world was watching, on television and in person, being met with thunderous applause. It was a truly momentous occasion. Although, some remain skeptical of the entire event.

Landing On The Moon

Three days after the launch, Apollo 11 finally arrived at the Moon. The lunar module, Eagle, left the command module to land on the Moon’s surface. It’s hard to forgot those famous words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” It took them four hours to prepare to disembark, despite their excitement. And when they disembarked, Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Living On The Moon

The pair of astronauts spent 22 hours on the moon’s surface. They set up a camera so that the people back on Earth could watch their achievement. In addition, Armstrong took quite a few photos as they explored the Moon’s landscape. Not long after, they were forced to return to the lunar module in order to get back to Colombia in order to return home.

Soviet Crash

As a result of the moon landing, the USSR ended up overspending in their space program in an effort to pass up the US. Unfortunately for them, their funds weren’t quite as large. The resulting economic downturn was a major part of the reason the Soviet Union ended up failing. This was how the US essentially won the Cold War, almost as if government officials knew a result like this could happen. The many photos Armstrong had taken on the Moon were published again and again in different media outlets, but some people attempt to use “anomalies” in the photographs as evidence to support their disbelief.

Moon Truthers

These conspiracy theorists are called “Moon truthers”. Even some famous people, like basketball player Steph Curry, believe the moon landing was staged. They have repeatedly attempted to use Armstrong’s own photos against NASA. One example is the fact that the shadows in the photos are apparently not parallel to the ground. Those who question the Moon landing’s validity say that this indicates studio lighting. Although, experts have attempted to refuse this claim, as well as many others.

Anu Ojha

One such scientist that has attempted to dissuade others from believing the Moon landing was faked, is Professor Anu Ojha, the director of the British National Space Academy. He actually spoke about the Moon shadows, saying that the shadow’s appearance can actually be replicated on Earth with natural lighting. He explained “This is on the surface of the Moon, but we can reproduce this effect any time we want to on Earth. You have all seen this phenomenon yourself, where, because of perspective, parallel lines appear to be non-parallel.” He also went on to explain why other supposed anomalies were present in the Moon landing photos.

No Stars In the Sky

Another idea that moon truthers attempt to use to discredit the moon landing is by pointing out that there are no visible stars in the sky in any of the photos. Professor Ojha gave the explanation that there are no stars in the sky because the photos were taken during the day on the moon, so the light from the sun would have overshadowed them.

The Flag

And lastly, moon truthers believe that the moon landing was fake because the US flag planted still appears to flutter. However, there is supposedly no atmosphere or wind on the moon. Although, it was explained that the flag has a stiffening pole inside so that it will always be completely unfurled. However, for many Moon truthers, this simply wasn’t enough.

Calm And Collected

Professor Ojha used a calm and collected meter while trying to talk to Moon truthers, although they still refused to believe him. Buzz Aldrin on the other hand had a completely different response when confronted. As it turns out, he’s a bit more volatile than a more mild-mannered professor is.

Bart Sibrel

A particularly famous moon truther is Bart Sibrel. His big claim to fame was when he called Buzz Aldrin in for a faux interview. After meeting with him, he immediately began shouting at him and claiming NASA faked the Moon landing. Buzz didn’t take took kindly to these insinuations and punched Sibrel, despite the camera crew present that was recording everything. The whole ordeal was ruled an act of self-defense and there weren’t any charges made.

Brian Meets Buzz

But in February 2016, Buzz was in a much better mood. This was when he had that interview at the Science Museum, being interviewed by Brian Cox. Cox is a popular science TV presenter and particle physics professor at England’s University of Manchester. It was during this interview that Brian made his “staged” remark.

An Excellent Photographer

One of the things Buzz brought up during the interview was that Neil Armstrong was an excellent photographer. He was the one that took all of the photos while they were on the moon, including the most famous ones. In particular, the so-called “visor image”. It pictured Aldrin standing in the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility with a clear reflection of Armstrong in Aldrin’s visor. Cox even went on to say “It’s probably the most famous picture from the surface of the Moon, I would say.”

A Slip Of The Tongue?

While reminiscing on how great a photographer Armstrong was, he told this story: Armstrong said, ‘Hey, stop!’ So I stopped and looked at him and he took the picture right away. You can identify that I was moving just a little. But people ask me about it – because it’s so well staged – and we call it the visor picture because the reflection in the visor shows the landing craft and the white-suited astronaut, Neil, who took the picture.” An interesting phrase to use there.

Something To Latch Onto

Of course, taking that phrase out of context can lead to quite a few assumptions. People have been taking Buzz’s more recent quote out of context and somewhat ignoring his explanation for what he meant. Some news outlets have even been acting as if he had outright admitted the moon landing was faked. Even newspapers like The Daily Express used the quote, using the headline “‘It was so well staged!’ Buzz Aldrin’s Moon landing confession revealed after 50 years”.

It Was Just A Prank

This isn’t the first time that a news outlet has used Buzz’s word to form a narrative that the moon landing was faked. The magazine Huzler once published a story claiming that Buzz Aldrin admitted everything was a lie. They used the quote “Apollo 11 was not real, none of it was. I am ashamed to say this but I cannot hide it anymore, it was a set-up, like the ones they use in Hollywood films”. However, this was all just a prank in 2014, not even using actual words said by Aldrin, himself. Yet, of course, Moon truthers latched onto it and spread it around as the truth for quite some time.

The Future Of Space Travel

Regardless of what people believe, the Moon landing has inspired many with dreams of space and traveling among the stars. Even private companies have attempted to make space travel more accessible. Companies like SpaceX and Amazon have even started a Space Race of their own. Perhaps, sometime soon, we’ll move beyond the Moon to Mars.