As soon as the Apollo 11 footage hit the airwaves, people began making claims that the footage was somehow faked and that the moon landings were a hoax altogether. A 1979 book, We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, was one of the first sources to push these hoax claims into popular culture, and the rest is history.
One of the more outlandish claims is that legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was hired to shoot the fake landing scenes in order to demoralize the Soviet Union, with whom the U.S. was waging a technological race to the top. Luckily for those of us who put our faith in NASA, a German team of citizen scientists has a plan to return to the original Apollo 11 site to put these hoax claims to rest once and for all.
The German team, called the “Part Time Scientists,” have partnered with Audi to send a robotic lunar rover within 200 meters (656 feet) of the Apollo 11 Lunar Roving Vehicle. Their plan is part of the team’s entry into the Google Lunar X Prize, a competition which pits teams of scientists and engineers against one another in a race to develop low-cost robots capable of exploring objects in space such as the moon.
While the team will be returning to the original Apollo 11 site to hopefully prove that NASA did in fact put men on the moon, debunking the conspiracy theory isn’t their primary goal. According to the their website, the team has loftier goals in mind:
This is a mission about the challenges that lie in the 384.400 kilometers that separate the earth from the moon. A story about breaking rules, going places where no one else dares to go. About trying, failing – and trying again. And about the strongest, most powerful fuel of all: pioneering spirit.
Yeah, pioneering spirit is great and all, but just show us the Apollo 11 lander already. I’ve got money riding on this one.