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Was the Moon landing faked? Conspiracy theorists point to key reasons for NASA 'hoax'

In 1969, the world watched in awe as US astronaut Neil Armstrong put his foot on the surface of the Moon, and declared “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Over half a century since the history-making Apollo 11 landing, six per cent of Americans - some 19 million people - remain adamant that the Moon landing was a hoax. But why?

“It seems so improbable that we would do something like that, it seems very unlikely,” Futurist Dr Richard Hames tells Yahoo News’ Conspiracies Unpacked.

But Dr Hames highlights three surprising reasons that NASA would want to fake a Moon landing.

Politics, money and war: Enough to fake the Moon landing?

The first reason that a fabricated Moon landing could have been planned is to distract the general public from the Vietnam War, which had been going for 14 years at the time.

“The government would want [attention] away from the commitment to the Vietnam War, which was becoming troubling at the time,” Dr Hames says.

A second potential push to fake the Moon landing could have come from President Kennedy's pressure to justify continued funding, Dr Hames says.

JFK pictured on a plaque on left, astronaut crew who landed on the moon on right
President Kennedy set a goal to achieve a Moon landing during a famous 1961 speech. Eight years later, Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins made the journey. Source: Getty Images

“[They would want] to ensure ongoing funding for NASA, that they would actually keep to their commitments of getting to the Moon and back, which Kennedy wanted,” he said.

Finally, one of the most popular theories surrounding a faked Moon landing involves the infamous "Space Race" between the US and Soviet Union, which the US desperately wanted to win to ensure national security and pride.

“In terms of the Space Race with the Russians or Soviet Union, they would want to stay ahead at least in the minds of everybody,” Dr Hames says.

Moon landing footage filmed at Area 51, conspiracy theorists claim

As for the Moon landing footage, proponents of the fake Moon landing conspiracy point to a very specific explanation - the footage was filmed by famed director Stanley Kubrick at Area 51. Although experts aren’t so sure.

“They’re claiming that the footage was slowed down and it doesn’t appear to be the kind of thing that you could capture on the Moon in those conditions,” Dr Hames says.

“Professional filmmakers refute that absolutely, and they say that it would be easier to go to the Moon and do what was done than to fake it, particularly with the technology they had at the time.”

Still from 2001: A Space Odyssey alongside a photo of an astronaut
Some believe that 2001: A Space Odyssey hints at techniques used by Kubrick to film the Moon landing. Source: Stanley Kubrick Productions, Getty Images

So was the Moon landing faked?

Although there are multiple reasons for believing the Moon landing was faked, Dr Hames believes it’s theoretically implausible, due to the magnitude of the staff working with NASA at the time.

“You’re talking about 400,000 people who would have to keep a secret and that’s long odds... Keeping 400,000 people silent would have been almost impossible,” he says.

Imagery taken in 2009 from an orbiting camera also shows remnants of the 1969 landing, which Dr Hames declares is “evidence the Moon landing was real”.

Newsreader Walter Cronkite holding up a newspaper announcing the moon landing
On June 20, 1969, the world watched in awe as it was announced that humans had set foot on the moon. Source: Getty Images

“The photos proved quite conclusively that there were footprints, the five flags planted are still there,” he said.

Conspiracy theorists, however, maintain that the Moon landing was faked to help stabilise a war-panicked public, solidify the President’s authority, and help the US remain a world leader in space aviation.

Perhaps Neil Armstrong said it best: "People love conspiracy theories".

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