What If? – Moon Landing

I get bored at work when all I can do is browse the internet on my work computer’s browser, and I have found the most entertaining websites have to do with the moon landing, aliens, pirate pilgrims, and other conspiracies. The wild theories themselves are entertaining, but they also get my imagination going with story ideas.

One of these story ideas has to do with the moon landing. Or landings. All of that Apollo stuff.

A piece of evidence that the moon landing was a hoax is the massive number of photographs taken in such a short period of time with rather cumbersome photographic equipment. This, plus some geometric analysis of these photographs (shadow angles, etc, whatever) point towards the photographs having been taken in a studio, not on the moon.

Well, That Mitchell and Webb Look did a pretty great job addressing nearly all the issues involved:


The Apollo missions definitely took place, and I don’t actually believe what I’m about to write, but what if…

The missions themselves weren’t documented, or at least their documentation wasn’t broadcast to the world. While the real mission was going on, pre-recorded footage (filmed on Earth) was broadcast. Why?

First, reduce the need for the photography equipment. The cameras were strapped to the astronauts’ chests with manual controls and no viewfinder to speak of. How likely was it that they would capture photos that are worth looking at?

Second, cover up anything that might go terribly, terribly wrong. If the lunar module exploded on impact or something, NASA could just continue broadcasting their filmed successful mission as if it all went as planned.

So, what we have is while Apollo 10 is doing their thing, Apollo 11 films their mission in the studio. Then, Apollo 11 actually takes place, while their filmed mission is broadcast, and Apollo 12 films their mission. This cycle continues each time.

Then comes Apollo 13, perhaps they filmed their mission just like the previous missions, so they’re stuck using that despite Apollo 12 not being nearly as big of a hit as they would have liked. It was just more of the same.

But then, drama! The actual mission has its infamous problems, so NASA decides to broadcast the real thing. Sure, things might go terribly wrong, one of the reasons for filming in the studio to begin with, but that’s just the kick they need to get the nation’s attention. They didn’t need to worry about their lack of photography equipment on the suits themselves, since at that point they knew the astronauts would not be visiting the moon’s surface.

After the great success of the third film, they go crazy for the next sequel, and have Alan Shepard golf on the moon. The series has jumped the shark, it’s all downhill from there. No wait, give them a car! That’ll be great!

But really, if I went to the moon I would spend most of my time taking pictures and shooting film. But I’m not an astronaut, they had some better things to do. I guess. How much can you do in just a few hours anyway?

No exposure control, no problem. They’re going to be in the same lighting conditions the entire time they’re on the moon. This is something that could fairly easily be calculated beforehand eliminating the need to make any adjustments in the field. Focus? Same thing, set that sucker to infinity and make sure not to stand too close to the stuff you’re taking pictures of. No viewfinder? Like a solid marksman, if you’re familiar enough with your camera you can easily shoot “from the hip” and have a pretty good idea of what will be in frame. Does footage from GoPro cameras strapped to someones chest while they’re snowboarding yield useless footage? If the field of view is wide enough, you don’t have to worry about framing much. You just have to worry about cropping to get something with pleasing composition.

It’s completely plausible that the Apollo astronauts took as many photos they did in the span of time they spent on the moon. But, the idea of a moon hoax is the seed for a pretty cool story.

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