The 1969 moon landing by Apollo 11 was indeed a massive step for humankind. But ever since it happened, and to this day, there are people who will go out of their way to try and prove it was all a hoax. One of the most cited claims of the moon landing hoax is the flapping American flag, which was planted on the moon, but we now know what really happened out there. Buckle up for an adventure.
The ‘60 were a time of deep uncertainty for humankind. The world was enveloped in the Cold War, and people were demotivated, exhausted, and lacking vision. But one man appeared to have a cure for it all. President is John F. Kennedy decided to look beyond the perils of this world and focus on outer space instead, starting one of the most ambitious space exploration eras ever. And he came up with a challenge that was too exciting not to be accepted.
Kennedy was fully aware of the Cold War space race, and he badly wanted to win it. And so, he proposed a bold new plan for the exploration of space. He believed space held the key to our future, and he challenged astronauts to go to the very end of the solar system itself if need be. And NASA, of course, accepted. But would they deliver?
NASA, being the iconic organization it is, was always full of talent and visionary individuals willing to do just about anything for the sake of space exploration. And so, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. But the landing itself was one of the biggest struggles of the spacecraft and the crew.
In space, nothing is as easy as it may seem. For Armstrong and Aldrin, the landing of Apollo 11 was the most dreaded part of the whole expedition. The unknowns were simply too many, and there were a million things to worry about all at once. No one has ever managed to land on the moon. And it wasn’t going to be easy for the first-timers.
Applying all their knowledge and talent, Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin did, in the end, manage to land Apollo 11 safely. And once they set foot on the surface themselves, they could help but be in awe of the magnificent desolation around them. They spent hours collecting materials, samples, and photographs of the moon. And they couldn’t help but share a message that will be remembered by mankind for centuries to come.
More than half a billion people were glued to their TV screen as Apollo 11 was out there exploring the moon. And they all got to hear Buzz Aldrin’s words ‘That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.’ And indeed, it was. And the astronauts were not about to leave the moon without commemorating their visit.
Naturally, a huge step for mankind like this one had to be commemorated properly. Apollo 11 came with a special plaque that read ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.’ The plaque was left on the moon, but that was not all the crew left behind.
Apollo 11 came to the moon with a task to plant the American flag there. This was meant to honor every US taxpayer who contributed to the NASA mission, so Armstrong and Aldrin knew they simply had to get it right. But their work was going up against a tough crowd.
Ever since Apollo 11 took off, people were coming up with wild conspiracy theories as to how it was all a big hoax by NASA. There are still conspiracy enthusiasts today who believe the Apollo 11 crew didn’t set foot on the moon, and they cite a few very interesting pieces of evidence as proof.
To many conspiracy theorists, the major clue as to the Apollo 11 moon landing hoax was the flapping American flag. Over the years, this little object has attracted unbelievable attention and has, to some degree, managed to undermine the hard work of the Apollo 11 crew. But what exactly makes the flag such a suspicious thing?
The moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, and that means something very important- there could be no wind! Therefore, the American flag simply couldn’t flap around as it did. Getting something to flap around in a space vacuum was impossible, and therefore the footage of the Apollo 11 crew must have been faked. But was it really?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that the American flag didn’t flap on the moon. It was simply an illusion created by a few variables, some of which were planned for by NASA, and some of which weren’t. It was all a combination of design thinking and pure luck.
In order to get the flag to stand up in space, NASA had to design a special horizontal crossbar to support it. The hem of the flag was also sewn across the top so that the bar could go through, and there were many other small tweaks to the design. And this all had to be thought through by NASA on Earth.
The flag NASA designed was not ordinary. If it was, it would have simply hung motionlessly on the moon. Hence, all the special designs to help the flag appear moving and lively. But it wasn’t just the ingenious design thinking of NASA engineers who managed to pull this off. Something accidental made the flapping flag a reality too.
The specially designed flag crossbar was meant to give a slight wavy effect to the flag, but it would be much. However, the Apollo 11 crew got lucky. Since the flag was packed for a few days, once they unpacked it to plant it on the moon, it was extremely wrinkled. And these wrinkles helped heighten the illusion of flapping in the otherwise non-existent wind on the moon.
The Apollo 11 moon landing was the beginning of a new age of space exploration. The event was indeed a big step for humankind, and belittling any of the achievements of the mission’s astronauts would be a blasphemous act. Conspiracy theories about the first-ever moon landing were, and always will be, explained away by actual scientific proof, so there is no need to worry that Armstrong and Aldrin made it all up.