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Faking a moon landing is hard
January 16, 2013 2:24 PM   Subscribe

"Did people go to the Moon in 1969? I'm not totally sure. I wasn't on the Moon then. Did they fake going to the Moon? No, I'm pretty sure they didn't, because they couldn't." -- Amsterdam based movie maker S. G. Collins explains why the movie, tv and video technology of 1969 make the moon landing having been faked highly unlikely (slyt).
posted by MartinWisse (57 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course, there's also the part where 400,000 people would have had to been involved in the moon landing conspiracy...
posted by agregoli at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2013


Also because you can point a telescope at the moon and see the actual equipment up there. I've seen everything. Yeah. I've seen it all.

With regard to the link, I never realised the video kit back then was so terrible.
posted by jaduncan at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not as hard as faking a mass shooting at a school.
posted by Fizz at 2:33 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Skip until ~3:30 if you want to avoid a healthy dose of snark. Also, relevant Mitchell & Webb sketch
posted by Going To Maine at 2:38 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also because you can point a telescope at the moon and see the actual equipment up there.

Well, sort of. That picture was taken by a high resolution camera on a satellite orbiting about 30 miles above the surface of the Moon. No telescope has the resolution to image the sites from Earth.

(Is it hoax day on Metafilter?)
posted by dirigibleman at 2:39 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


jaduncan: "Also because you can point a telescope at the moon and see the actual equipment up there. I've seen everything. Yeah. I've seen it all."

Fake, everyone knows that LRRR is on the planet Omicron Persei Eight.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 2:40 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


WOW! SG Collins, neat.

This has been required reading for visiting Amsterdam now for decades.

(You probably already knew that Martin.)

Thanks for posting.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:44 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is this guy is Alfred Hitchcock's illegitimate son, or is that also fake?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:45 PM on January 16, 2013


Goddamn, its happening again. Why do we allow this?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:47 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also because you can point a telescope at the moon and see the actual equipment up there. I've seen everything. Yeah. I've seen it all.

My favorite moon-landing-conspiracy factoid is that, apparantly, only the first moon landing was faked, because our actual moon landing program was falling behind. Obviously the gear from the first moon landing was planted by that later moon mission that went sort of near the area.
posted by muddgirl at 2:49 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course there is Buzz's more direct approach to hoax refutation.
posted by edgeways at 2:52 PM on January 16, 2013 [30 favorites]


If someone faked the moon landings, it would have to be a genius of unparalleled skill and vision.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was thinking the other day that everyone accused of taking part in a conspiracy should have their own Buzz Aldrin to handle matters for them
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


if you want to avoid a healthy dose of snark

( .... Then what on Earth are you doing on MetaFilter?)
posted by webmutant at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Did people go to the Moon in 1969? I'm not totally sure. I wasn't on the Moon then. Did they fake going to the Moon? No, I'm pretty sure they didn't

If you're pretty sure people didn't fake the moon landing, then you're equally pretty sure that they went to the moon. Same syllogism for "not totally sure".
posted by dgaicun at 3:04 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only 'plausible' claim is that Kubrick did it. Not that I believe that the moon landing is faked, but if it WAS faked I believe that Kubrick could fake it.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:08 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want this man to be my friend.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


If we had faked it, the USSR would have had a field day exposing it, including radar and (satellite) photographic evidence.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:12 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


What a great, well-reasoned takedown. I love his point at the end.
posted by drinkcoffee at 3:26 PM on January 16, 2013


If the video equipage was so bad, why were the vids coming back live from the moon crystal clear which is something I've wondered about since I saw the "moon landings" in 1968 as an eight-year-old. The shit was faked.
posted by telstar at 3:53 PM on January 16, 2013


If we had faked it, the USSR would have had a field day exposing it, including radar and (satellite) photographic evidence.


That means the USSR was in on it! My god, this whole thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger...
posted by Green Winnebago at 3:57 PM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


If you're pretty sure people didn't fake the moon landing, then you're equally pretty sure that they went to the moon. Same syllogism for "not totally sure".

I think the subtle distinction he's drawing between the demand by Moon Truthers for absolute certainty on the "moon landing was real" side of things, and the requirement for extreme implausibility in a domain he understands well on the "moon landing was faked" side of things is a useful one. I'm impressed with how well he articulates the sane, responsible response to the siren call of conspiracist whackjobbery in general.
posted by brennen at 3:57 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Excellent. Really excellent.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:58 PM on January 16, 2013


If the video equipage was so bad, why were the vids coming back live from the moon crystal clear which is something I've wondered about since I saw the "moon landings" in 1968 as an eight-year-old. The shit was faked.

I'm assuming you're joking 'cause the imaged were awful and the landing was in '69, but if not, there's a related question on Quora that I contributed an answer to.

Long story short, NASA didn't even want to send a video camera at first and when they finally did (after astronaut Tom Stafford pushed hard for one on Apollo 10), they chose B&W 'cause not many color tvs were around, they weren't even sure if the camera would work and chose black & white because it easier to send from the surface of the moon. Later missions got better cameras.

Any other questions about Apollo? Please? I gotta use all this trivia somehow
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:05 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


If the video equipage was so bad, why were the vids coming back live from the moon crystal clear which is something I've wondered about since I saw the "moon landings" in 1968 as an eight-year-old. The shit was faked.

Are you being serious? They landed in 1969.

The video equipment was, in fact, likely of a very high quality. NASA could afford it. They simply chose to use a 10 frames/second camera for the first landing, maybe for robustness/weight reasons (a 10 fps black and white camera being a good bit simpler and probably less likely to break than a 29.97 fps color camera).

One limiting factor was probably the transmitter they were using to beam the video from the moon, since it had to be fairly compact, lightweight and power-sipping, but the receiver(s) could be about as good as they could in 1969: huge antennas, low-noise amplifiers, etc.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:06 PM on January 16, 2013


I think telstar is joking. No need for alarm.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:19 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even the video from Apollo 17 was still NTSC recorded with a Vidicon tube, although by then color had been a lot more widely adopted and therefore generally improved. The really sharp Moon images aren't video, they were stills taken with Hasselblad medium format film cameras and which are the subject of a whole nother level of Moon truther crazy as folks run them through software that overdetects image flaws introduced by the cameras' mechanics and optics.
posted by localroger at 4:20 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meta-Conspiracy-Theory time:

The Fake Moon Landings meme was a deliberate test to see how effective the Fox propaganda apparatus was. It had been a conspiracy meme for years, but no one took it seriously until the prime time Fox special of February, 2001 aired. The reason the moon program makes for a good test subject is because it was literally one of if not the best documented event in human history. 400,000 people participated. It was written about by every newspaper on the planet. Every stage of all of the flights were filmed with the best cameras available. it was in Life magazine, fer chrissake. If the Powers That Be at Fox could convince a significant percentage of people that the best documented events in human history never happened, then they could lie freely about anything and expect it to be believed.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:25 PM on January 16, 2013 [61 favorites]


Well you don't have to worry about all of this slow motion stuff if you just explain that NASA used the antigravity generators recovered from Roswell to give the TV studio 1/6 Earth's gravity.
posted by ckape at 4:31 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because it's cool: Stabilized video of LRV in action from Apollo 16. Lunar dune buggy action!
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


If the video equipage was so bad, why were the vids coming back live from the moon crystal clear

Because it wasn't a video signal, it was a data transmission using Slow-scan TV.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:35 PM on January 16, 2013


The video equipment was, in fact, likely of a very high quality. NASA could afford it. They simply chose to use a 10 frames/second camera for the first landing, maybe for robustness/weight reasons (a 10 fps black and white camera being a good bit simpler and probably less likely to break than a 29.97 fps color camera).

Also less film weight; there's very literally fewer film frames per second.
posted by jaduncan at 4:39 PM on January 16, 2013


If we had faked it, the USSR would have had a field day exposing it, including radar and (satellite) photographic evidence.

I think the radio intelligence angle really kills the theory. Radio signals intelligence was pioneered during WWI (by the Germans against the Russians, ironically) and perfected during WWII. The Soviet Union built their largest SIGINT installation outside of Russia in Cuba. Their own space program was sending unmanned probes to the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and their radio astronomy program was doing radar observations of other planets.

The Soviet Union and United States both had programs to identify, catalog, and track anything with a radio signal that went sub-orbital or higher, and a number of third parties with radio telescopes or receivers were able to listen in as well.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:44 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, they went there all right. To check out those cool glass domes.
posted by davebush at 4:50 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ouch, the line "just another homo" should have been dropped on the cutting room floor.
posted by jepler at 5:00 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I firmly believe that the conspiracy goes deeper than this, and that the earth itself is faked.
posted by found missing at 5:08 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


So homo's some sort of "bad word"? Are you also holding hostage words like homogenous and homozygous?
posted by humboldt32 at 5:13 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Of course there is Buzz's more direct approach to hoax refutation.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine Buzz Aldrin punching Bart Sibrel in his stupid face—forever.

The future is pretty sweet.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:14 PM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I find that professing the belief that the moon landings were fake is a great way to filter out potential friends who completely lack a sense of humor.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


... or Homo Erectus or Homo Habilis for that that matter, which is what he meant. Any intelligent, thinking person would have taken that statement as such. But you go right ahead pointing fingers and screaming foul-play like you have so sort of cogent point.


(sorry this sort of backward prejudice, it infuriates me)
posted by humboldt32 at 5:24 PM on January 16, 2013


I firmly believe that the conspiracy goes deeper than this, and that the earth itself is faked.

The year is really only 1975, and we are all nothing more than simulations in Stanley Kubrick's perfected hoax machine. The clues are in his boxes.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:40 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any intelligent, thinking person would have taken that statement as such.

Sigh. But I wanted to forward this vid to people who sometimes have trouble with intelligence and thinking. To a large group of people (and perhaps to an especially large group of the moon hoaxers), the statement: "you're just a[nother] homo" has a specific meaning that is unrelated to Homo Habilis or homogenous.

I agree with jepler that if you are trying to communicate a message, anything that introduces ambiguity should be left on the cutting room floor, no matter how infuriating that might be.

I guess, on reflection, the vid was too snarky anyway to forward to anyone who didn't already agree with it.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 7:39 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want this man to be my friend.

there is no 'S. G. Collins'...this entire video was faked with Disney animatronics. wake up sheeple.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:02 PM on January 16, 2013


I think the fact the USSR accepted the legitimacy of the moon landing should be enough to be convincing on its own. They would have had the means and motive to expose the US if we had faked the landing, and you can be sure that they were watching things as closely as possible.

I find it beyond everyday loony to believe our mortal enemies of the time, who were regularly sending cameras into space, either wouldn't have taken the time to check out progress themselves, or alternatively were participating in the US staging of their own embarrassing defeat.

Also, bonus shameless plug!
posted by Jezztek at 8:35 PM on January 16, 2013


Blerg, I see my point was already well covered, and somehow jumping around through the thread I missed that.
posted by Jezztek at 8:37 PM on January 16, 2013


I'm torn here.

On one hand of course I believe the moon landing was real.

On the other hand, Kubrik totally could have faked it if he tried.
posted by mazola at 9:10 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


LEGO Damashii, thanks for amplifying my point for me.

For those I offended by being offended, let me offer a debunking of the debunking. He mentions the "AMPEX HS-100" as the only possible device that could have recorded and played back video in 1969 (a "magnetic disk recorder") before dismissing it as unable to hold the necessary amount of prerecorded footage, but AMPEX also had a 1956 medium called the "2-inch Quadraplex videotape" and recorders like the "VR-1000". It says here that a standard spool was 4800', that 30fps NTSC video could be stored at 7.5'/min, so replay at 10fps would consume 2.5 feet per minute and that standard spool would give you 1920 minutes. You just need to alter the playback mechanics to run at 1/3 the speed, and modify a monitor to scan at 1/3 or maybe 1/6 the frequency.

It seems like Collins got stuck on the idea of overcranking (which may well have required the HS-100 with its limited storage), but that's not necessary to fake the 10fps video of Apollo 11 as he spent a lot of time pointing out.

PS I'm not a moon truther
posted by jepler at 5:43 AM on January 17, 2013


I saw the "moon landings" in 1968 as an eight-year-old. The shit was faked.

If you saw a moon landing in 1968, that one was faked.
posted by Anne Neville at 7:32 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those professional radio astronomers at Parkes in Australia with their big dish pointed directly at the moon picking up the slow-scan television signal from the moon's surface with all the tell-tale signs of a signal coming through the atmosphere from space? Haven't heard doubts from any of them.

The people that have been shooting laser beams at the moon's surface ever since and pick up returned photons from the corner reflectors left on the surface? Right where the photos show LEM sites? No doubts from any of them.

Of course those things don't prove that actual people went to the moon. Columbus and Einstein are just stories in books, and I've never actually -seen- Crust Lintbomb. They -could- all be fake too. If you're looking for cheap thrills, conspiracies will always top idiocy.
posted by Twang at 7:33 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, the Parkes telescope thing is interesting.

I watched the movie recently, and it all makes a lot more sense if the power loss and miraculous signal reacquisition were actually staged by the g-man so that they could inject the fake signal.

PS still not a moon truther
posted by jepler at 8:00 AM on January 17, 2013


Moon truthers sort of make sense, in a way. If you look at any photos of men on the moon ( Apollo 15 and Apollo 12), they do look fake. It has a soundstage look with black velvet backdrop, maybe with mountains painted on. So I get how a person could be looking at the photos and thinking "Nah, these are fake."


Sure, there's no air or reference points on the moon, to accurately gauge distance, but still it the photos and video have that soundstage appearance, if you ignore science and go by expectations.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 AM on January 17, 2013


The earth is also totally flat, look you can SEE it's flat man!

Space is a myth!

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posted by edgeways at 9:19 AM on January 17, 2013


Twang:
Those professional radio astronomers at Parkes in Australia with their big dish pointed directly at the moon picking up the slow-scan television signal from the moon's surface with all the tell-tale signs of a signal coming through the atmosphere from space? Haven't heard doubts from any of them.


[nitpicking for a friend w/o a mefi account]

Parkes wasn't "The Dish" used for the initial Apollo11 pickup? It was Honeysuckle Creek
posted by mulligan at 9:51 AM on January 17, 2013


Sure, there's no air or reference points on the moon, to accurately gauge distance, but still it the photos and video have that soundstage appearance, if you ignore science and go by expectations.

It's truthy enough!
posted by jaduncan at 6:07 PM on January 17, 2013


His name is COLLINS, people. Like I'm going to believe someone who's probably related to one of the original actornauts.
posted by NorthernLite at 4:02 PM on January 19, 2013


An appology.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:11 AM on January 25, 2013


It says here that a standard spool was 4800', that 30fps NTSC video could be stored at 7.5'/min, so replay at 10fps would consume 2.5 feet per minute and that standard spool would give you 1920 minutes.

You mucked up your math a little bit. It's 2.5 inches per second, not feet per minute. So more like 384 minutes. Still technically sufficient to fake the moon landings though!
posted by smackfu at 12:02 PM on January 25, 2013


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