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Conspiracy theorist punched by Buzz Aldrin still insists moon landing was fake

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From Florida to Texas to California and lots of places in between, people from secretaries to rocket scientists worked to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put Americans on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

Mission accomplished came on July 20, 1969, with a massive worldwide audience watching as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended form the lunar module and Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon’s surface, proclaimed “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Yet half a century later, despite other moon landings, moon rocks and firsthand accounts from countless members of the 400,000-strong workforce who helped achieve JFK’s goal, some still believe the moon landings were staged in a Hollywood studio. The deniers claim the government and CIA are behind the cover-up to deceive Americans. 

In fact, a poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of C-SPAN in June 2019 revealed that 6% of Americans believe the moon landing was staged — and even more respondents,15%, said they don’t know if it was real or fake.

In the running for most famous of the deniers might be Bart Sibrel, a 55-year-old Tennessee resident notorious for having been punched in the face by Buzz Aldrin in 2002 after Sibrel confronted Aldrin in person, calling him a liar, coward and thief, 

Aldrin was not prosecuted as police determined he’d been provoked, and that punch earned him accolades from many fed up with the conspirators. 

“I went from being the biggest fan of the ‘moon missions’ to being their biggest critic,” said Sibrel in emails to FLORIDA TODAY in early July.

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Stating the moon landing was a “Cold War CIA and Nixon administration deception,” Sibrel said he has a compilation of “riveting” and “compelling” evidence that reveals the entire space program to be a hoax. Sibrel said his evidence consists of “recordings, photographic analysis, and high profile interviews with those involved in the space program.”

“Not a single critic has ever explained, in this federal government’s alleged picture from the moon, how two shadows in sunlight, from objects five feet apart from one another, can intersect at 90 degrees,” Sibrel wrote.

“Go outside yourself and see if this can take place in sunlight. It is completely impossible.”

Sibrel, like many other moon landing conspiracy theorists, is referencing a picture in which an astronaut is seen taking a moon stroll. The deniers say no way can the astronaut’s shadow not be parallel to the moon rocks.

In an effort to put the uproar of denial to rest, MythBusters — a TV show that puts myths and urban legends to the test — recreated a lunar photo shoot in 2008. After they constructed a moon-landing scene to scale and adjusted the topography to mimic the moons, they discovered the sun-like lamp shining on the uneven surface did indeed cast non-parallel shadows on the mini-astronaut and imitation moon rocks.

“I get so exasperated when I talk to people who are so convinced that the moon landing was faked,” said NASA historian, Bill Barry to FLORIDA TODAY in September of 2018. 

“The moon landing had people working on the project from all over the world not just in the U.S. 400,000 people in America were working on that project, how could you have possibly kept a secret like that?” 

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And yet, the conspiracy persists. A 1976 book “We Never Went to the Moon” written by the late Bill Kaysing, an early moon-landing doubter, is still quoted today.

Even NBA player Stephen Curry, point guard for the Golden State Warriors, has chimed in on the topic. In a December 2018 interview on a podcast called “Winging It,” Curry said he doesn’t believe that humans actually landed on the moon. His comment resulted in NASA, Boeing and others reaching out via Twitter to welcome Curry to to their facilities to show that humankind did indeed do just that. Boeing tweeted: “Hey @StephenCurry30, while you’re down visiting @NASA_Johnson, we’ll teach you how to fly the #Starliner to the @Space_Station. Wonder how much vert you can get in zero gravity?”

Curry later said he was joking.

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Sibrel also claims there was no independent press coverage of Apollo 11. 

“The only evidence submitted to support it was entirely controlled and provided by those perpetrating the fraud,” said Sibrel. 

While NASA was the only entity capturing footage and photos of the moon landing via the Westinghouse slow-scan lunar camera, they had help from additional teams. A satellite in the Northern Hemisphere (California) and a satellite in the southern hemisphere (Australia) were needed to capture signals from the surface camera to relay pictures and video back to mission control in Houston in order for the moon landing to be broadcast live to 650 million global TV viewers.

In his email to FLORIDA TODAY, Sibrel expressed concern about his words being included in a “pop culture” article on “doubters,” saying he was saddened that the American population refuses to “be a part of changing the world by exposing “deplorable corruption.” 

“I am not the story, the fake moon landings are the story,” he said.

Follow Olivia McKelvey on Twitter: @olivia_mckelvey

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  • 'Apollo 11' astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin stands by the American flag planted on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Apollo 11 landed Commander Neil Armstrong made this photo.1 of 51
  • An image of the of the 363-foot Saturn V rocket, used by the Apollo 11 moon mission, is projected onto the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, July 16, 2019. The projection is part of events organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Saturn rocket launched astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin into space.2 of 51
  • Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Fla, on July 16, 1969.  The Saturn V is 363-feet tall,  60 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. Fully fueled for liftoff, the Saturn V weighed 6.2 million pounds.3 of 51
  • The Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket blasts off on July 16, 1969.  At takeoff, the rocket generated 7.6 million pounds of thrust.4 of 51
  • Former President Lyndon B. Johnson and then-current Vice President Spiro Agnew are among the spectators at the launch of Apollo 11,  July 16, 1969. 5 of 51
  • This photograph shows the Saturn V launch vehicle (SA-506) for the Apollo 11 mission liftoff at 8:32 am CDT, July 16, 1969, from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Apollo 11 was the first manned lunar landing mission with a crew of three astronauts: Mission commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module pilot Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. It placed the first humans on the surface of the moon and returned them back to Earth. Astronaut Armstrong became the first man on the lunar surface, and astronaut Aldrin became the second. Astronaut Collins piloted the Command Module in a parking orbit around the Moon.6 of 51
  • Thousands of spectators camped out on beaches and roads to watch the launch of Apollo 11, which launched at 9:32 a.m. Eastern on July 16, 1969. 7 of 51
  • These are some of the thousands of people who camped out on beaches adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center in Fla. to watch the Apollo 11 mission liftoff aboard the Saturn V rocket, July 16, 1969.  8 of 51
  • The Launch Control Center during 'Saturn V' rocket launch carrying the 'Apollo 11' astronauts as it lifts off in Cape Canavarel on July 16, 1969. 9 of 51
  • Astronaut and Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity on the moon. He had just deployed the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package. In the foreground is the Passive Seismic Experiment Package; beyond it is the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector (LR-3). 10 of 51
  • Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, trudges across the surface of the moon leaving behind footprints, July 20, 1969. 11 of 51
  • Edwin Buzz Aldrin in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, July 20, 1969. 12 of 51
  • New York City welcomes the Apollo 11 crew in a ticker tape parade down Broadway and Park Avenue. In the lead car are astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. The three astronauts teamed for the first manned lunar landing, on July 20, 1969.13 of 51
  • These are the flight controllers at Space Center in Houston, as the Apollo 11 mission's lunar landing module descends to the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969.14 of 51
  • Astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin walking on the moon in this iconic image taken by 'Apollo 11' commander and First Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, on  July 20, 1969. 15 of 51
  • Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio on Aug. 5, 1930 and passed away at age 82 on Aug. 25, 2012. Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, when he became the first person to walk on the moon as commander of Apollo 11. This photograph of Armstrong from the Apollo 11 mission was taken inside the Lunar Module while the LM rested on the lunar surface. Astronauts Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, had already completed their historic spacewalk when this picture was made. Astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the moon's surface.16 of 51
  • Earthrise is viewed from the Apollo 11 mission's lunar landing module 'Eagle' prior to its landing on July 20, 1969. 17 of 51
  • Astronaut Buzz Aldrin stands besides a lunar seismometer looking back toward the lunar landing module in this photo taken by 'Apollo 11' commander and first Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, on July 20, 1969. 18 of 51
  • Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descends the steps of the Lunar Module (LM) ladder as he prepares to walk on the moon, july 16, 1969.  This photograph was taken by astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, with a 70mm lunar surface camera during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). While Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM Eagle to explore the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit. 19 of 51
  • This is Crater 308 on the moon viewed from orbit on July 20, 1969. 20 of 51
  • This is astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin's boot and footprint in lunar soil July 20,1969. 21 of 51
  • This photograph of the Lunar Module at Tranquility Base was taken by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission, from the rim of Little West Crater on the lunar surface. This is the furthest distance from the lunar module traveled by either astronaut while on the moon.22 of 51
  • The Moon limb and 'Eagle' Lunar Module ascent to the moon, July 20,1969. 23 of 51
  • This is at Tranquility Base. 24 of 51
  • This is the Eagle lunar landing module in landing configuration in orbit taken by Michael Collins on  July 20, 1969. 25 of 51
  • Astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin deploys the Passive Seismic Experiment Package on the moon, July 20, 1969. 26 of 51
  • This is astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin's boot and footprint in lunar soil July 20,1969. 27 of 51
  • This is the Eagle lunar landing module in landing configuration in orbit taken by Michael Collins on  July 20, 1969. 28 of 51
  • Neil Armstrong works near the lunar landing module in this photo taken by 'Eagle' lander pilot Edwin Aldrin on  July 20, 1969. 29 of 51
  • Members of the 'Apollo 11' crew wait for pickup by a helicopter from the 'USS Hornet',  July 24, 1969. 30 of 51
  • Navy Lieutenant Clancey Hatleberg disinfects Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin in the life raft during recovery operations in the Pacific Ocean, July 24, 1969. 31 of 51
  • The Apollo 11 command module lands in the Pacific Ocean as the crew waits to be picked up by Navy personnel after an eight day mission to the moon, July 24, 1969. 32 of 51
  • President Richard M. Nixon welcomes the 'Apollo 11' astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin confined in the Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the 'USS Hornet',  July 24, 1969.33 of 51
  • Apollo 11 Astronauts Michael Collins, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. and Neil A. Armstrong relax in the Mobile Quarantine Facility. 34 of 51
  • Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin in a NASA photo used to promote the motion picture In the Shadow of the Moon. The photo shows the three men in quarantine after their trip to the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin were respectively the first and second men to walk on the lunar surface. 35 of 51
  • The Apollo 11 spacecraft Command Module (CM) is loaded aboard a Super Guppy Aircraft at Ellington Air Force Base for shipment to the North American Rockwell Corporation at Downey, Calif. The CM was just released from its postflight quarantine at the Manned Spacecraft Center (which would later be renamed JSC). 36 of 51
  • The crawler inches its way along the three-and-a-half-mile journey to Launch Pad 39A carrying the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket. 37 of 51
  • Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 mission commander, floats safely to the ground after the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle exploded seconds before while Armstrong was rehearsing a lunar landing at Ellington Air Force Base near the Manned Spacecraft Center. The photo is a blowup of a 16mm documentary motion picture. 38 of 51
  • The Instrument Instrument Unit For Saturn V is lowered In place. 39 of 51
  • This is the S-1C booster for the Apollo 11 Saturn V. 40 of 51
  • Apollo 11 astronauts stand next to their spacecraft in 1969 including Col. Edwin E. Aldrin, lunar module pilot; Neil Armstrong, flight commander; and Lt. Michael Collins, command module pilot.  41 of 51
  • Neil Armstrong trained for the Apollo 11 mission at NASA Langley's Lunar Landing Research Facility on equipment that cancelled all but one-sixth of Earth's gravitational force. Armstrong offered perhaps the greatest tribute to the importance of his training when asked what it was like to land on the moon, replying, Like Langley.42 of 51
  • Apollo 11 backup crew members Fred Haise (left) and Jim Lovell prepare to enter the Lunar Module for an altitude test. 43 of 51
  • Command Module pilot Michael Collins practices in the CM simulator on June 19, 1969, at Kennedy Space Center.44 of 51
  • The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and  Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. July 16, 1969.45 of 51
  • Neil Armstrong's helmet and gloves from the Apollo 11 space mission at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Conservation Lab  Sept. 12, 2018. 46 of 51
  • This is a Hasselblad 70mm Camera from the command module that was carried on the Apollo 11 mission.  According to NASA, When John Glenn became the first American in orbit, bringing a camera was an afterthought. An Ansco Autoset 35mm camera, manufactured by Minolta, was purchased in a local drug store and hastily modified so the astronaut could use it more easily while in his pressure suit. A comprehensive set of camera equipment was carried on board Apollo 11. This included two 16mm Maurer motion picture film cameras, a color television camera in the orbiting Columbia, and a black and white TV camera outside of the lunar module to transmit to Earth Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon's surface. A Kodak stereo close-up camera was used to film the lunar soil from only inches away. Three Hasselblad 500EL cameras were carried. Two of the Hasselblad cameras were identical to those carried on the earlier Apollo 8 and 10 lunar orbit missions. During the Moon landing one Hasselblad was left aboard the Command Module Columbia, which remained in lunar orbit. Two were taken on the Lunar Module Eagle to the Moon's surface. 47 of 51
  • Neil Armstrong is awarded the Samuel P. Langely medal in front of the Apollo 11 Columbia Command Module during a ceremony on the 30th anniversary of the moon landing as Vice President Al Gore applauds, July 20 1999 at the National Air and Space Museum. 48 of 51
  • This is Neil Armstrong's A6L Apollo 11 space suit glove displayed as part of Julien's Auctions Treasures from the Vault media preview in Los Angeles. Nov. 13, 2017. 49 of 51
  • The crew of Apollo 11,  Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stand in front of the Apollo command module Columbia after being awarded the Samuel P. Langley medal July, 20, 1999 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.50 of 51
  • Apollo 11 Astronauts Edwin Aldrin Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong get a close view of one of the moon rocks carried back by the crew from the surface of the moon, Sept. 16, 1969 in Washington. The two-pound, fist-sized grey rock was turned over to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and will be put on public display.51 of 51

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