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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Moon

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Moon

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celebrates 40th anniversary of moon walk, some still believe it was fakedBy Lee-Anne Goodman (CP) â€" 11 hours agoCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.

— In this seaside community that relies on the U.S.

space program for its livelihood, conspiracy theorists who maintain Americans have never walked on the moon are considered as sane as those who believe Elvis Presley still lives and breathes."Oh, those people, they are just complete whackjobs," said Jenny O'Connor, a waitress at the Sandbar Sports Grill, as she served up shrimp tacos and cold beer during a recent lunchtime crush."I mean certain technologies and developments were made possible because of the moon walk, right? Those people are nuts."The moon walks were actually filmed on a NASA soundstage, so the theory goes, for two primary purposes: to save face as the Russians outpaced the U.S.

in space exploration, and to divert the nation's attention away from the devastating Vietnam War.Consistent poll numbers suggest six per cent of Americans believe the first moon landing was an elaborate hoax aimed at instilling national pride.Not surprisingly, a Russian poll conducted in 2000 found that 28 per cent of Russia's citizens believe the moon walk was fake.

And a poll conducted in the U.K.

less than two weeks ago suggests 25 per cent of Britons don't believe it really happened.The conspiracy theorists say the technology was simply not in place in 1969 to have accomplished such a death-defying feat, although almost every one of their attempts to debunk the mission have been discredited.By way of proving the hoax, the conspiracy theorists point to photos from the Apollo 11 mission, claiming the American flag is rippling in an apparent breeze in what is supposedly the vacuum of space.They claim the 382 kilograms of moon rocks that were gathered and brought back home by astronauts were in fact found in Antarctica, even though they are more than 600 million years older than any rocks discovered on Earth.They even suggest as many as 10 astronauts and two civilians connected to the manned spaceflight program might have been murdered as part of a wide-ranging cover-up that has held tight for 40 years.The notion is so galling to the astronauts that Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, punched one of the leading conspiracy theorists in the face in 2002 after he was taunted as being a "a coward, a liar and a thief."The Bible-toting Bart Sibrel, a filmmaker from Nashville who produced the 2001 documentary "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon," tried to convince authorities to press charges.But it was determined he provoked the legendary astronaut, who was 72 when he hauled off and slugged the 37-year-old Sibrel, a man accused of stalking many of the country's most beloved space pioneers."I don't want to call attention to the individuals who are trying to promote and shuffle off this hoax on people," Aldrin said in a recent interview."I feel sorry for the gullible people who're going to go along with them.

I guess it's just natural human reaction to want to be a part of 'knowing something that somebody doesn't know.' But it's misguided.

It's just a shame."Aldrin wasn't alone in losing his temper at Sibrel - Neil Armstrong once cursed him out, and Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, threw him out of his house.Other astronauts have been equally annoyed by the suggestion they never set foot on the moon."The truth needs no defence," Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan said in a documentary that celebrated their achievement, 2007's "In the Shadow of the Moon.""Nobody can ever take those footsteps I made on the surface of the moon away from me."Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield doesn't for a moment believe the moon landing was fake, but says he still marvels at the skills and luck involved in managing to pull off the Apollo 11 mission."If you look at the Gemini program that preceded Apollo - every flight was a near-disaster," Hadfield said this week at the Kennedy Space Center, where he spent time waiting for his friend and colleague Julie Payette to blast off into the heavens aboard the space shuttle Endeavour."When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the landing site they'd chosen was unacceptable.

He had to manually take it and fly it further to a better site - he landed with 16 seconds of fuel left.

Sixteen seconds!""So they did it, but it required a tremendous amount of money, effort and luck to do that properly without killing anybody."NASA may soon prove once and for all the moon landing was real - its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is now circling the moon with powerful cameras, snapping high-resolution photos that could show the Apollo 11's Eagle lander still perched on the lunar surface.The absence of such images until now has been another weapon in the conspiracy theorists' arsenal.But just as they have with nearly every bit of information provided by NASA regarding the first moon walk, there's little doubt the conspiracy theorists will accuse the space agency of doctoring the photos."If they don't believe the thousands of pictures and video taken from the lunar surface by the Apollo astronauts themselves, why would they believe further NASA evidence?" Discover magazine's Phil Plait recently wrote on his blog."And besides, these true believers don't live in an evidence-based world.

They live in fantasy."Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press.

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