Illusory Apollo: the Ultimate Mega Show
by Aerodynamicist Alexander Onoprienko
Why the Apollo Space Project was an illusion – an in-depth, well argued, Russian perspective
The history of space exploration, as well as the history of science and technology in general, has an internal logic and motivation. In the same way as it is impossible to give birth to a child in three or four months, in science and technology it's also impossible to skip essential key stages of research and development.
For example a supersonic fighter cannot be built without having previously acquired considerable experience and expertise from the construction of simple, wooden airplanes, such as that of the Wright brothers.
But the majority of us don’t realize that just a few decades ago – a mere trifle by the standards of history – there is an historical paradox. Let's go back fifty years and revisit the start of the space era, what we now call the Space Race, and take another look at these well-known events, but from a different perspective.
Important background of the Space Race
The first artificial space satellite; the first space probe that reached the lunar surface in September 1959; the first circuit of the Moon in 1960, when the Luna 3 probe took pictures of the far side of the Moon; the first manned space mission – these and many other achievements belong to the Soviet space program, in contrast to the always-playing-catch-up space project of the United States.
Losing in the space race was a blow to America’s image as the absolute leader of modern progress and it undermined the carefully cultivated image of the socialist system, as being entirely devoid of evolutionary sense and perspectives. On May 25, 1961, not long after Yuri Gagarin returned from his famous space mission John F Kennedy said that a mega breakthrough was required to regain the lead:
"Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take."
Then in September 1962 Kennedy’s famous Rice Stadium speech, risky in terms of public obligations, promised the nation that the US lunar mission was to land on the Moon before the end of the decade, the 1960s.
"We mean to be a part of it [of the coming age of space] — we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the Moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade… that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
Timeline of the space race
A look at the timeline of the race to the Moon enables us to appreciate the pressures experienced by the technological teams of both nations. For the first three years they were merely trying to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface.
1962 Failure of the three US Ranger 4, 5, and 6 spacecraft, attempting to take pictures of the lunar surface.
1963 The first and failed attempt to make a soft lunar landing – as a result the Soviet Moon probe Luna 4 entered a heliocentric orbit.
1964 Another failed US attempt to take lunar pictures by the Ranger 6 craft. Only the fifth attempt by Ranger 7 was successful.
1965 Ranger 8 and 9 continued shooting the lunar surface. All probes were shooting in free fall mode above the lunar surface from 2,500 km altitude to several hundred metres.
The Soviets were also unsuccessfully trying to master a soft landing on the Moon: four of their consecutive missions Luna 5, 6, 7, and 8 failed.
However, Soviet Zond 3 spacecraft photographed one-third of the previously unknown far side of the Moon, which helped to create the first complete lunar map and Moon globe, but with blank spots at the poles.
So far not a single soft lunar landing, and only three and a half years left before landing a man on the Moon!
1966 The year of pilgrimage to the Moon.
February 3 the Soviet Luna 9 probe made the first historic soft landing on the Moon. It was found that the lunar surface was solid and the lunar dust was not metres deep. The first TV images of the lunar landscape and the surface were transmitted with a resolution of up to 1mm.
The Luna 10 craft became the first artificial satellite of the Moon; it was joined by Luna 11 and 12 that same year.
On December 24 Luna 13 repeated a soft landing.
The Americans also celebrated success. On June 2, Surveyor 1 performed the first US soft landing on the Moon, although the next probe Surveyor 2 crashed.
Explorer 33 failed to enter lunar orbit and did not become an artificial Moon satellite; although Lunar Orbiter 1 and 2 succeeded.
The Soviet program once again was in front, both in soft lunar landings and in launching artificial Moon satellites. Yet so far the parties had made progress in execution of only two phases of future missions – entering lunar orbit and soft landing of relatively simple and light objects.
1967 The American year in the space race.
Lunar Orbiter 3, 4, 5, and Explorer 35 became the next US artificial satellites of the Moon.
Surveyor 3, 5 and 6 performed soft lunar landings, Surveyor 4 crashed.
1968 A significant year in the history of the race to the Moon.
For a start Surveyor 7 had landed softly, bringing the US program score of soft landings and crashes to 5 to 2 (Surveyor 2 and 4 crashed).
In April 1968, the Russians put into orbit Luna 14 – the fourth artificial satellite.
The Zond 5 spacecraft, an analogue of the Soyuz spacecraft, specially designed for a manned lunar flyby, completed a test flight with passengers. The first living creatures orbiting the Moon were Russian tortoises – on September 21, 1968 these were successfully returned to Earth. The first ever return to Earth from lunar orbit.
In November, the Zond 6 spacecraft was launched, which after a lunar flyby was supposed to be the first to land on the ground in Kazakhstan (and not splash into the ocean). But due to the premature parachute jettison, at an altitude of 5km the craft crashed. Scheduled for December 8, 1968 the launch of the manned Zond 7 lunar flyby was cancelled, despite a written petition of the crew to the Politburo to grant permission for the Moon flight. Permission was not granted. Passions ran high.
Then – without any previous unmanned or "tortoise-type" testing in lunar orbit – between 21-27 December the United States accomplished the first manned flight around the Moon with Apollo 8 and a crew of three astronauts.
1969 – The final year of the race to the Moon.
In May 1969, Apollo 10 completed the second manned mission around the Moon with the undocking and docking of the Apollo Lunar Module (LM) to the CSM. But no other full-scale testing of the LM was ever carried out.
In July, the Soviet Luna 15 probe attempted to return lunar soil back to Earth. The first attempt to return from the surface of the Moon back to Earth failed. It turned out that the return of even a light craft without a life-support system was no ordinary engineering task.
In July 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 allegedly accomplished the first manned mission to the Moon.
The lunar program after the game was over
Continuing until December 1972, NASA launched further lunar missions, five successful and one unsuccessful (although a mission ‘failure’ was actually part of Werner von Braun’s original plan for his space program). Then NASA wrapped up its Apollo program even though there were three fully-equipped and ready-to-launch Saturn V boosters, that were subsequently turned into museum exhibits.
Thereafter, all parts of the lunar program were unexpectedly and dramatically shut down until the mid-1990s, and then resumed in the form of rare, individual launches of artificial lunar satellites. The Soviet Moon program however, despite the loss of priority of a manned landing on the Moon, actively continued for some time.
There were two successful lunar flyby test missions accomplished by Zond 7 in 1969 and by Zond 8 in 1970. Also in 1970, Luna 17 successfully delivered Lunokhod 1 to the Moon, and in 1973, Luna 21 landed Lunokhod 2. The first had worked on the lunar surface for 10 months, exceeding its life expectancy more than three fold, and it travelled 10.5km. The second worked for four months and travelled 37km.
Hundreds of detailed panoramas of the lunar landscapes and tens of thousands of TV images were taken; the mechanical characteristics of the lunar soil were studied in hundreds of places, and the chemical composition of the soil was studied in dozens of locations. Laser ranging of retro-reflectors installed on Lunokhod made it possible to measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon with an error within 3 metres and enabled the taking of high-precision measurements of the lunar orbit.
Three lunar probes successfully returned lunar soil to Earth in 1970, 1972, and 1976 – just over three hundred grams in total. Two artificial satellites of the Moon were launched – Luna 19 in 1971, and Luna 22 in 1974.
But since 1976, all Moon programs were shut down. A period of inactivity set in regarding the Moon, interrupted in 1990 by the Japanese, who launched an artificial satellite. Lunar exploration resumed in the form of occasional, lone launches of probes, although there was not even one soft lunar landing.
Humankind continues to stubbornly ignore this ideal full-scale space test site, which was generously provided by the Universe, as if inviting man into space.
The full data on the chronology of the space program (in Russian) from 1959 to 2007 is available online.
When one begins to closely study the US Apollo program – its results, supplementary events, and subsequent actions – there's a sense of serious discontinuity of several subplots, which, of course, raises many questions. In contrast, the Soviet Moon program looks far more orderly and logical, without any plot discontinuities.
Let us focus on three key aspects:
The third item is a product of NASA's approach to providing evidence of US astronauts walking on the surface of the Moon.
- Organizational and technological
- Discrepancies and comical scenarios
Organizational and technological discontinuities
Prime examples of organizational and technological plot discontinuities:
- As part of the full-scale tests of the Saturn V just two unmanned test launches were carried out. The second and final test on April 4, 1968 was unsuccessful – the main part of the program, in terms of preparation for a mission to the Moon, had failed. There was a premature cut off in two out of the five engines on the second stage, which did not allow the Command and Service Module (CSM) to insert into orbit with a planned apogee of 517,000 km. Instead, using its own Apollo 6 engine, the CSM was put into orbit with an apogee of 22,235 km.
As a result, it wasn’t possible to check the quality of long distance radio communications, to test a return to Earth with escape velocity and, most importantly, the reliability of the Saturn V propulsion capability remained unconfirmed. There were no more unmanned tests. Even so, the next mission was the first manned flight around the Moon in December 1968 with a crew of three men, mind you – not tortoises!
This level of risk in manned space missions is unacceptable, basically, it should not be done. In the Soviet space program there was a rule: before a manned mission could take place, it had to be preceded by at least two fully successful launches of the unmanned equivalent of the spacecraft. As a result of the violation of this rule with the Soyuz craft, the Soviet Union was immediately punished by Komarov’s death. That’s why after a successful lunar flyby and the return of Zond 5 with tortoises, the subsequent failure of the Zond 6 landing caused the cancellation of the planned Zond 7 manned flyby of the Moon. The Americans ought to have been equally reasonable.
- A test landing on the Moon of an unmanned LM and its return to the lunar orbit was skipped. This is an essential phase of the full-scale tests of the unique, cutting-edge craft with critical weight and strength characteristics; such tests are mandatory for this type of program. Instead, NASA restricted itself to undocking, manoeuvring and docking the LM in lunar orbit. These tests are themselves a separate part, mastering the technology of docking and orbital manoeuvring, but they cannot replace an unmanned lunar landing and subsequent lift off from the Moon. Orbital manoeuvring and docking on its own cannot replace a fully-fledged test docking with the LM after actually taking off from the surface of the Moon.
These guys were daredevils.
- Due to the above-mentioned problems in the final Saturn V test launch, NASA didn’t gain experience in Earth atmosphere re-entry with escape velocity; the agency had quite sensibly planned to get that experience. This challenging phase of the mission required the same practice as landing the LM on the Moon, lift off and docking with the CSM.
- There was a lack of redundancy in the LM’s lift-off phase. If for the first mission such an approach can still be explained away by 'the race', then for subsequent regular and ‘non-priority’ missions such disregard for safety was inexplicable and absolutely pointless. As part of the Soviet lunar program, to ensure the safety of the return, it was initially planned to use a backup Lunokhod and a backup Lunar Module. The backup Module guaranteed return from the surface of the Moon in the event of a primary Moon spacecraft failure, and the backup Lunokhod equipped with its oxygen supply was to take a cosmonaut from the primary to the backup module. It was a reasonable approach that preserved the integrity of the story.
- In 1970, at the height of the Apollo program, the chief designer of the Saturn V, Wernher von Braun, was dismissed as a director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and was actually removed from managing rocket development. This integral person was a coordinator of all aspects of a vast and complex project, and in case of emergency had to fulfil operational duty in the Mission Control Center throughout each mission. No one else besides von Braun had complete information and knowledge regarding the manufacture of the vast number of components of the complex project.
- The technological failure of the design of the Apollo Saturn V boosters and rocket engines resulted in the actual loss by the US of an advanced technology that was developed specially for the project. Only 20 years later, in 1988 the Soviet Union was able to repeat America’s success in designing a rocket of about the same payload as Saturn V – the Energia rocket. Unfortunately, the program collapsed along with the Soviet Union. But the technology itself survived: the RD-171 engine was designed and based on Energia’s RD-170 engine, and it is now used on Zenit rockets, as well as RD-180 engines, which are sold to the US for the heavy Atlas 5 rocket launchers.
This situation pertains, despite the fact that Saturn V with its F1 technology was allegedly more advanced than the one used in RD-170. At comparable thrust, the F1 engine had one chamber and the RD-170 had four. All other things being equal, single-chamber engines have better weight characteristics, and they are smaller in size. But on the other hand, a larger combustion chamber makes it more difficult to ensure combustion stability. Soviet and later Russian engine specialists have been unable to design a single-chamber engine in any way comparable to the F1.
It is most surprising that NASA, allegedly possessing such capable technology, in mass production and apparently working well, should discontinue using these engines and then purchase engines based on Soviet technology.
So to summarise the organizational and technological peculiarities of the story of the ‘American Apollo Space Project’:
There were incredible technological breakthroughs, a fantastic, unfathomable depth of preliminary engineering groundwork, amazing recklessness, combined with equally amazing long-lasting luck, and then an unexplained subsequent rollback from these technological achievements. Since December 1968, when the first manned lunar orbital mission took place, the organizational and technological plot of the US Apollo program underwent a series of discontinuities, shifting from the category of ‘real’ to the category of ‘fiction’.
The NASA project omitted a long series of unmanned missions, it missed out perfecting various phases of the program, each of them guaranteed to be accompanied by serious problems or disasters (see the timeline of the Moon race and Saturn V tests). Commonly accepted engineering ‘rules of the space game’ had been repeatedly and flagrantly violated without any consequences.
No less miraculous things were happening in the geopolitical arena.
Since 1969, the logical, clear, and comprehensible geopolitical scenario of uncompromising confrontation of relentless adversaries broke apart, fundamentally and incomprehensibly: The United States began to play along with the Soviet Union and this cooperation continued for several years.
It all started with a natural gas pipeline to Germany see Pipeline to Infinity:
"In the cold morning of February 1, 1970 at 12:02 pm in a conference room at the Kaiserhof Hotel in Essen, a trade deal agreement of hitherto unheard-of proportions on the deliveries of natural gas from the Soviet Union to West Germany was signed. And yet just about a year ago, when the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko unexpectedly suggested this project at the trade fair in Hanover, Bonn officials found it to be another Soviet bluff."
Comments follow on the event by those directly involved in the process. Andreas Meyer-Landrut, the German ambassador to the Soviet Union in the 1980s said:
"The deal was, of course, very important for the development of East-West relations. For the first time, Germany was not tailing America, but it acted as an independent political player. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did not want the Germans to play a distinctive role in the policy of East-West rapprochement; he wanted to keep it under his control. But we, with our Ostpolitik, outran him."
This comment was clearly intended to please the Germans, who had endured much humiliation on the outcome of two World Wars, and that the tail would dream that it was wagging the dog.
In the 1970s Nikolay Komarov was the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade:
"It was not even necessary to make the way through for this idea, political problems did not arise, everyone was interested, ‘heads’ agreed relatively quickly. There were no political problems."
While all the previous attempts to build a pipeline from the Soviet Union to the West had been strongly suppressed, in this commentary, the remark about the absence of political problems at the top level is noteworthy. For example, in the event of hostilities the pipelines could ensure the supply of fuel for the advancing Soviet army. Furthermore, it was a time of fierce geopolitical confrontation, heated up by the Prague Spring of 1968 and by the indirect clash of the Soviet Union with the United States in the Vietnam War (1965-1973).
In North Vietnam there were Soviet military advisers and experts who helped in the building of the air defence system, which was virtually absent at the beginning of the war, the Soviet Union also supplied weapons and fuel. The result was disastrous for the US: according to various sources, during the war from 3,500 to 5,000 US aircraft were shot down. In September 1967 in Moscow, another Assistance Treaty was signed between the Soviet Union and North Vietnam. In 1968 the Soviet Union continued, free of charge, the supply of aircraft, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and small arms, ammunition and other military equipment.
That’s some American-Soviet friendship. Under such circumstances, all of a sudden, America blesses their ‘younger European brothers’ for a very profitable (for the Soviet Union) deal. Apparently having got over the Vietnam insult, and the suppression of Czech democracy, and the instinctive panic attitude of the the US towards the strengthening of infrastructural links between continental Western Europe and Russia, as undermining the foundations of their world dominance.1
The general order doesn’t recognize and doesn’t tolerate these significant discontinuities of geopolitical schemes similar to that which occurred in 1970. Such events always have a hidden agenda.
For the very first time, information about the possibility of a natural gas agreement was publicly announced by Andrei Gromyko, in January 1969, six months before the US Apollo 11 Moon landing. Naturally, the bitter experience of the previous restrictions made the Germans treat it with skepticism, knowing that the decision on the realization of such projects was taken across the pond. However, quite unexpectedly for the Germans, the contract did not meet any resistance by America, it was as if they hadn’t noticed.
Any events in the category ‘did not notice’ are actually thought out decisions taken in advance, which belong in the category of geopolitical exchanges. Since the other part of these decisions was skilfully disguised, we will investigate.
When the Americans permit anything, they want to get something just as significant in return. They were well aware of the reality of losing the space race. Such an outcome was totally unacceptable, because space leadership could be taken back only after a landing on Mars. However, having a well-developed media industry, it was possible to insure themselves against a possible defeat from the Russians, having fully worked out the illusion solution for the Apollo landings.
The main risk of this scenario was in the Soviet Union's technological capabilities to disavow the event. So, about a year before the next possible date for a real or illusionary landing on the Moon the exchange option was arranged. Depending on how it went, the Soviet leaders were unofficially aware that there wouldn’t be any objections to the extremely favourable deal with the natural gas pipeline to Germany. Now, in case the Soviet Union had doubts about the authenticity of the event, the Americans had a good subject for bargaining – a large, tasty carrot that could be taken away.
An additional reward, which the Soviet Union had managed to get for itself in the exchange process, was the unprecedented release of pressure in the exhausting arms race. In May 26, 1972 despite the clash in Vietnam, US President Richard Nixon visited Moscow. It was an extraordinary event, as, it was the first visit of an American President to the Soviet Union since the end of the Second World War. Prior to that, only once in June, 1961 was there a short working meeting of the Soviet and American leaders Khrushchev and Kennedy at a neutral venue in Vienna.
The summit resulted in signing the permanent treaty on the limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile systems. The visit had launched the elaboration and signing the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), which officially embodied the principle of equal security in the area of Strategic Offensive Arms. It should be noted that the principle of ‘equal security’ is not acceptable in American geopolitics – for a player leading the global geopolitical projects it is nonsense to follow such a principle.
Detection of discrepancies and a comical scenario
This scenario came to life exclusively due to a very peculiar approach by NASA to the topic of confirming the reality of US astronauts landing on the Moon.
Discussing light and shadow anomalies as well as perspective problems, fake moon sets in a studio etc., in the photographic and the TV record is like a game of tennis. Any ‘serve’ will be returned or deliberately missed with clownish antics. So we here concentrate on some plot inconsistencies:
- Boot prints in the lunar dust under the LM
- Cirque des Moon Rocks
The presence of astronauts’ boot prints in the lunar dust under the LM and in the neighbourhood is far more than strange. The exhaust speed relative to the descending LM reached almost 3000 m/s, so all the dust within many meters had to be blown away. Given the distance that the exhaust plume would have spread in the absence of an atmosphere, such a situation is only possible if the engine was shut off at a height of several hundred meters during the landing, raising legitimate concern for the lives and safety of the astronauts.
But reading the transcript of the radio communications between the LM and Mission Control relieves anxiety and allows us to breathe more easily. In the radio communications the astronauts wisely reported the engine picking up a little dust, which partly obstructed the line of view up to completion of descent manoeuvring. So, well done! They didn’t cut the engines off. But there was no time to exhale with relief. Nevertheless, the very tricky question about the source of the dust under the LM still remains.
The dust couldn’t settle, because in the absence of air it doesn’t settle, but scatters or flies away into space, as on the surface of the Moon the escape velocity is just 1700 m/s. It remains to assume the unbelievable: that the Moon has an unknown physical law, in which the particles of lunar dust have some unthinkable property to be attracted to the place from which they were blown away. Then, even more surprising, there’s no dust in its rightful place on the landing pads which remained pristine – clearly seen in the second picture. In addition to the ever-evolving model of the world, we will have to put forward another hypothesis: particles of lunar dust do not settle at all on physical objects of alien origin. Such is Occam's Razor.
More such examples can be found elsewhere on this website and in the Apollo archive.
The main evidence of men landing on the Moon was supposed to be the large Moon rocks. Unlike small lunar rubble (regolith), they couldn’t be returned to Earth by a lunar probe, it could only have been achieved by humans. The Moon rock circus show then commenced – American lunar rocks were classified.
It would seem reasonable, given the large number of Apollo skeptics, to show the rocks and all the detractors’ questions would vanish. But no, NASA expects everyone to take its word ‘as a gentleman’ and accept their photographs.
Yet still there’s more. In late August, 2009 a scandal with the only unclassified lunar rock erupted:
'Moon rock' in Dutch museum is just petrified wood:
The Dutch national museum said Thursday that one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.
Rijksmuseum spokeswoman Xandra van Gelder, who oversaw the investigation that proved the piece was a fake, said the museum will keep it anyway as a curiosity.
The museum acquired the rock after the death of former Prime Minister Willem Drees in 1988. Drees received it as a private gift on Oct. 9, 1969, from then-US ambassador J. William Middendorf during a visit by the three Apollo 11 astronauts, part of their "Giant Leap" goodwill tour after the first moon landing.
Middendorf, who lives in Rhode Island, told Dutch broadcaster NOS news that he had gotten the rock from the US State Department, but couldn't recall the exact details.
Recall that the first robotic probe to return a sample of lunar soil (regolith) was the Soviet Luna 16 on September 24, 1970, that is one year after the delivery of the original US ‘gift’. The easiest way to minimize irritation and to absolve themselves of the blame in a global fraud would be to offer a real rock instead a false gift. Think about it, how would you behave, if under the guise of a multi-carat diamond you gave costume jewellery to a beloved woman, and you were found out? NASA believes the standard plot twists are banal and undeserving of comment or justification and continued its favourite technique of indirect avoidance.
In this case, and what a convenient coincidence – the Indian artificial Moon satellite Chandrayaan 1 was handy. It turned out that just a few days after this Dutch embarrassment, on September 3, 2009 without any preliminary announcements (common in such cases) the Indian probe all of a sudden took pictures of Apollo sites, while as they say, casually passing by. Now, if you happen to mess up with the precious rocks, just present images to the beloved one taken by a street photographer, who just happened to photograph you at the entrance to the prestigious jewellery store.
Added to which, the disappearance of the original Apollo lunar landing footage from the NASA archives can be added, which pretty much looks like them covering their tracks. In the logic of the US moon program storyline this episode is totally consistent:
WASHINGTON (AP) — In an embarrassing acknowledgment, the space agency said Thursday that it must have erased the Apollo 11 moon footage years ago so that it could reuse the videotape. … A huge search that began three years ago for the old moon tapes led to the "inescapable conclusion" that 45 tapes of Apollo 11 video were erased and reused. The original videos beamed to Earth were stored on giant reels of tape that each contained 15 minutes of video, along with other data from the moon. In the 1970s and '80s, NASA had a shortage of the tapes, so it erased about 200,000 of them and reused them.
The studio wizards … are digitally sharpening and cleaning up the ghostly, grainy footage of the moon landing, making it even better than what TV viewers saw on July 20, 1969. They are doing it by working from four copies that NASA scrounged from around the world. The restoration used four video sources: CBS News originals; kinescopes from the National Archives; a video from Australia that received the transmission of the original moon video; and camera shots of a TV monitor.
Nafzger praised Lowry for restoring "crispness" to the Apollo video. Historian Launius wasn't as blown away. "It's certainly a little better than the original," Launius said. "It's not a lot better."
NASA was poverty-stricken, and now an examination of the authenticity of the material is not possible, it is indeed non-genuine.
Thousands of magnetic tapes with original audio recordings of the missions were lost. NASA cannot/will not even identify exactly what material was lost. Translated into the language of interpersonal communication, this means: ‘precisely that material was lost which you’re interested in now’ i.e., from NASA's viewpoint of clearing suspicions – everything is AOK. The doubters are left to commiserate with NASA over their ‘missed fortune’ while marvelling once again at the originality of its space plot twists.
Leaving those precious rocks, the exchange of lunar soil samples deserves special attention.
After their first missions the Americans firmly refused to give the USSR any lunar soil samples as evidence of the reality of their lunar landings, reasoning that the Soviet Union had nothing to offer in exchange for such valuable samples.
On September 24, 1970 the Luna 16 probe returned to Earth with the first samples of lunar soil. This put NASA in a very difficult position – to continue refusing seemed unmotivated. Finally, in January, 1971 the agreement on exchange was signed, after which the exchange was further postponed for one and a half years. Apparently, NASA was hoping to be able to return soil samples at the beginning of 1971, and the agreement was duly signed, noting the postponement period. But something went wrong with their sample return, and the US began dragging out this simple task.
In July 1971, as a gesture of goodwill, the Soviet Union unilaterally handed over to the USA three grams of soil out of its 100 grams, without receiving anything in return, although officially in NASA’s storerooms there was already supposedly 96 kg of lunar soil. The Americans continued to drag this out for another nine months.
Finally, on April 13, 1972 the soil samples, returned to Earth by Luna 16 and Apollo 15, were exchanged, although already eight months had passed since the Apollo 15 mission return to Earth. By that time, out of their 173 kg of returned lunar rocks, NASA had brought to the table 29 g of regolith. Naturally, there were no talks to confirm the availability of Moon rocks with their subsequent return.
It is possible that NASA had no soil at all, and the samples exchange was as illusive as the part of the deal with the top Soviet leadership. Therefore, the quantity of ‘exchangeable’ soil was within the total soil returned to Earth by the Soviet probes. Shortly thereafter, in December 1972 the last Apollo mission took place, closing the program.
If we consider the scenario of the lunar soil exchange from the standpoint of the NASA moon landings being real, it is clearly doesn't work. If you accept the event of a lunar landing as an illusion, the story of the Moon soil and rocks is both consistent and logical.
Why all this was possible
There is every reason to conclude that the final phase of the US Apollo space program was an illusory mega-project, which had a serious geopolitical background.
The cold war with the USSR declared by Churchill on March 5, 1946 gradually came to a standstill of equal positions. The Soviet Union steadily blocked all military strategies available for western civilization: the nuclear missile shield excluded hot war from the arsenal of acceptable means, the elimination of the critical technological gap made economic war ineffective; the isolation of the Soviet elite blocked the strategy of elite bribery. The stalemate forced the West to focus on ideological warfare. For them it didn’t start from the best placed position of the two sides: the successes in reconstruction of the country in the social sector, in military production, aviation, space and nuclear programs had meant that the Soviet people had already adopted the slogan WE ARE THE BEST.
It is impossible to win an ideological war against people with such an attitude, reinforced with the effect of The Great Victory. Therefore, the western elite perceived the space race as a general engagement, which it was not going to lose since defeat had unacceptable consequences, in terms of justifying the leadership and the effectiveness of ideological aggression. And as all’s fair in love and war – in other words, the ends justify the means. So all means are good leading to acceptance of the 'illusion' as a victory tactic.
Fearing a real chance of the USSR winning in the Moon flyby, NASA completed a virtual flyby. In doing so, NASA cut the possibility of testing unmanned missions, which might have had unavoidable risks of failure: the ensuing series of unmanned tests with inevitable failures would look strange after the successful manned flyby mission. Thus, NASA completely shut off an option of a real Moon mission, unfeasible without a series of test flights. Meanwhile, landing on the Moon was absolutely necessary in order to render the continuation of the Soviet lunar program meaningless. So the sooner the better, while the potentially low degree of readiness of the Soviet program would further push the USSR to abandon a successful completion.
Therefore, a virtual manned lunar mission was immediately carried out. The inescapable logic of the big lie.
Possessing a unique media industry, with highly skilled staff, and extensive practice in creating virtual images, it was quite logical to put these into operation in order to shape the desired virtual appearance in the eyes of the world and the adversary.
Until now, all confirmations and refutations of the Apollo missions are indirect, and that was the expectation. Although, gathered together the refuting evidence looks depressing for those who would wish to convince us of the reality of the lunar landings until the late 1990s, the situation has been held in suspended animation as a result of the lack of enough direct evidence and the lack of direct rebuttal from NASA – this situation is now slowly changing.
Moreover, the ability of the American elite to control the other world elites and apply pressure on them, preserves the current status quo. Any national leader who decides to start a real Moon program should be aware that he/she will be under a real threat of physical elimination. The stakes are very high indeed.
Why the Soviet Union conceded
While Soviet experts were sorting out this hoax, it had become a part of the social psyche. So any rebuttal could only be achieved by referring to photographs and the TV coverage of the Apollo landing sites. The top Soviet leadership was faced with a dilemma – to go to considerable effort to gather evidence and then publicly prove the illusory nature of the Apollo Space Project, or to keep silent by agreeing to the US geopolitical exchange.
In the first case, the parties were facing a military conflict, at least a strike on the Soviet space infrastructure. Under no circumstances could the US allow the truth to come out, as in this case instead of triumph, the country would run into ontological catastrophe: their chosen role as the prime purveyors of truth, goodness, and justice, in the eyes of its citizens and the self-appointed policeman of the world in the eyes of everyone else, America would become the generator of a ubiquitous lie without the moral right to geopolitical leadership.
As the global lie is exposed in the eyes of its citizens the elite loses the right to exercise their power: any communication with the public could be interpreted as an attempt to deceive, which would mean paralysis of governance. In terms of financial, rather than administrative dictatorship this stance could result in deep social disorder or even disintegration of the country.
In the second case, it is prudent not to engage in an exposé; the Soviet Union gets peace and access to useful financial resources and western technologies. The situation created by the US did not allow for partial solutions – either peace, friendship and chewing gum – or war. Facing a difficult decision the Soviet leaders, at first glance, acted wisely and humanely.
But this wise decision has another side.
Psychologically the Soviet system was not a simple structure. It was based on the suppression of the strongest biological imperative – personal selfishness. In exchange for giving up biologically motivated desires to abundant personal well-being, a collective advance towards great goals was offered, which was the subject of the social contract and the major psychological reward.
It soon became clear that communism was a distant ideal target and the route towards it was through the tough reality of social relationships. Therefore, leadership in space exploration was a gift, giving the Soviet system a tangible ideological foundation, providing stability in increasing the informational connectedness of the world and sharply declining the repressive component. Thus the cynical surrender of the leadership in the space race led to the ideological disaster: other solid transpersonal objectives instead of leadership in space were not delivered, though apparently were still hoped for. Figure skating, hockey, the North Pole, and Antarctica appeared to be weak substitutes.
In surrendering the space race in exchange for Coca-Cola and ice cream, the Soviet elite actually signed its future defeat.
Why keep silent now
Firstly, because we, the USSR, took a direct part in the Apollo hoax, confirming it with our silence, and we even made money out of it. According to the ‘rules of the game’, if anyone was to denounce the event, it would have to be a third player, not Russia.
Secondly, serious declarations require convincing evidence. NASA will go to considerable lengths to prevent any such evidence from surfacing in a way that would alert the general public. Stuck in an old paradigm, and still fearful of destabilising the perception of US power in space and elsewhere, NASA cannot acknowledge the ‘illusion’ component of the space program.
Yet, ironically in trying to explore Mars, NASA is itself revealing to the world the depth of its Apollo Illusion. The progress made in preparation for manned space flight to Mars demonstrates clearly (to anyone who cares to compare the material with the Apollo data) that the depth of requisite knowledge and technical ability is still lacking to protect human beings much beyond LEO.
Thirdly, to get into major confrontations over this illusion would be counterproductive. Ongoing scientific research into Mars exploration is ensuring that the true Apollo record emerges gradually into the world’s collective consciousness in a way that neither causes geopolitical chaos, nor the social disintegration of America, Russia or any other nation.
And finally, for the world to become aware of this massive cheat in any other way would be inhumane to us all – for we could lose our faith in each other. As it is, those who first conceived the illusion solution, and those who agreed to go along with it, might not have fully realised that in executing this strategy, they stimulated everyone’s imagination to the possibilities of space – and despite the persistent lullabies being sung by NASA over the intervening decades, none of us have gone back to sleep. Which is hardly surprising because space travel is innate within us and territorial expansion of the living environment is the most important imperative for the evolution of life.
A local evolutionary dead end
The Universe seems to have specifically supplied Earth with a uniquely convenient simulator for developing and mastering technology for the expansion into space. For the people of planet Earth, the Moon is the key that unlocks the door to the Universe. And while access to it remains psychologically and physically blocked, humankind is doomed to stagnate.
Regrettably, for half a century various lunar programs have been abolished and humankind, readied for the first steps of extra planetary expansion by the Apollo illusion, unexpectedly finds instead that it has been locked down on Earth.
The passionate energy of potential space pioneers is being deflected into other activities such as snowboarding, freestyle, windsurfing, motor racing, mountain biking and so on.
If the human race gives up on manned space flight and continues to lock itself up on Earth this will lead to a system crisis so powerful that there will be no time to figure out the true origin of the crisis. It would go entirely unnoticed that the crisis was actually generated by the desire of those heading up the space programs to maintain the illusion – at any cost.
This strong desire leading to the manipulation of the scientific record and data would result in our continued inability to get to grips with manned space travel and ultimately, lock down. Hence, it would be extremely prudent to come to our senses, to forgive ourselves for what we don’t know, roll up our sleeves and start catching up in earnest, NOW!
The reverse side of illusory processes in geopolitics
Achieving geopolitical objectives through a creation of illusory chimeras at first looks extremely efficient and cost effective. However, the coin has a flip side – under conditions of ever-increasing informational connectedness of the world, an irritation accumulates, caused by a mismatch between the generated illusory images and reality, and the secondary consequences of their retouching are increasing. If mismatches reach a critical level, it will lead to the collapse of the illusory structure, whose debris is capable of burying the Director.
From the ashes rises the Phoenix, and just as the industry of these illusory actions gave birth, among other things, to the inversion of human activity: the creation of such images becomes destructive – and their destruction: constructive.
Aulis Online, September 2010/October 2013
English translation from the Russian by BigPhil
About the Author
In 1983 Alexander Onoprienko graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, a leading Russian university, majoring in Aerodynamics. For some time he was a researcher at the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute then at the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy – the world’s largest and oldest scientific school of aeronautics.
Since 1993, Alexander Onoprienko has been a company CEO and entrepreneur. The scope of his interests include social management, social evolution, and evolution.
Alexander has a blog on these topics. His key subjects are instruments of biological and social evolution; the meaning of evolution, and the meaning of life.
1. Compare the Soviet gas blitzkrieg during the open geopolitical confrontation and indirect military conflict of the adversaries, with the enormous long-term efforts of modern capitalist Russia on laying Nord Stream and South Stream offshore natural gas pipelines from Russia to Europe.
Visualization of the industry of illusory images
Machinations and intrigues of clienteles and creators of illusory structures are exposed in an entertaining Hollywood movie Wag the Dog starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman.