It’s the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Soviet Union’s most famous (and most hated by its leaders ) novelist — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – who brought the word “gulag” into the vocabulary of the Western world. A century later, a certain Russian space scientist may be glad those forced labor camps no longer exist (or do they?) after going against the leader of Russia’s space program and saying that not only does he believe that the U.S. landed humans on the moon, faking such a landing would be harder than actually accomplishing it. Hear that, lunar-landing-denier Steph Curry?
“Falsifying moon soil is impossible. The Americans brought back to Earth about 300 kilos of it, most of it basalt.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Yury Kostitsyn, the head of Russia’s Institute of Analytical Chemistry, went against recent statements of Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, who “joked” that one purpose of Russia’s own future lunar missions will be to prove or disprove the 1969 Apollo 11 landing, give the country an opportunity to check whether Neil Armstrong’s footprints are actually out there.
“The question of whether the Americans landed on the moon in 1961-1972 is not controversial. However, there are still speculations on this topic in the world and mainly come from people who have nothing to do with space. You will not hear from any astronaut that the Americans have not landed on the moon.”
The “astronauts” Kostitsyn is referring to are Russian cosmonauts who know that the U.S. lunar space program was and still is far ahead of theirs. However, as a scientist, he looks for proof in the lunar rocks themselves, which he and other Russians were allowed to examine. He points out that although basalt came into existence on both the Earth and the moon at the same time, there are no old samples on Earth because of weathering. On the other hand, the samples from the moon are over 4 billion years old, far older than any rocks on Earth. In addition, they show a different form of weathering due to solar wind, which does not affect Earth rocks.
Then he goes after Dmitry Rogozin and Steph Curry.
“The Americans were very worried whether the USSR was going to arrange a trick on the moon – after all, at the same time as their mission, the USSR launched its probes on the moon. Of course, we did not have the task to harm them, it was – to get ahead. Staging the landing of American astronauts on the moon would be more difficult and more expensive than its actual implementation. Including because then this deception would have to be kept secret, which is not possible. NASA could classify its materials, but many independent firms participated in the implementation of Apollo.”
Even in the Soviet Union, with the threat of gulags and worse, it would be impossible to have so many different and independent parties keep such a massive hoax a secret for 50 years. Kostitsyn also points out that, while the U.S. seems to be focused on Mars, Russia is talking about establishing a base on the moon – a project that will require a better understanding of how much water is actually there and available.
“To build a base on the moon, you first need to establish life there and solve the problem of protecting people from space radiation. To do this, from the lunar substance to build shelters, and inside them to maintain the atmosphere. It is difficult to carry oxygen from Earth, therefore the water on the Moon is of primary interest – we need to understand how much water is there, how much water is available and how to get oxygen out of it.”
Oxygen and protection from radiation – two challenges Kostitsyn thinks are beyond the ability of Roscosmos and its goal of establishing a base in the 2030s.
“I think that humankind will not be able to fully live on the Moon soon. In the next decade, most likely, missions to the Moon will be resumed – both Russia, the USA and China have plans to launch orbiters there for the time being. Plans for the creation of manned moon descent modules remain at the level of theory.”
It’s discussions like this that remind us we need to listen more to scientists and less to NBA stars.