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Moon-Landing Debunkers Won’t Go Away

Did NASA secretly stage history's biggest scam by filming fake lunar landings - complete with phony astronauts and pseudo-moon rocks - on some Hollywood soundstage?

Or, are the skeptics who believe these moon-hoax theories a collection of conspiracy theorists, money-grubbers and the perpetually paranoid?

The debate continues. July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, er, "alleged" moon landing.

NASA has trumpeted the purported touchdown of the Eagle lunar module as the human race's "single greatest technological achievement of all time."

However, try this Google Web search: "Apollo moon hoax."

You'll get nearly 3 million results.

And perhaps the nation's foremost moon-mission doubter - who was famously punched in the face by astronaut Buzz Aldrin during a combative 2002 interview - still argues that NASA archive video and photographs reveal that the mission was rigged.

"The fact is, this footage is them faking being halfway to the moon. I'm a filmmaker, and it's my job to make fake things look real," said Nashville media producer Bart Sibrel, who publicized his theories in the documentary "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon."

Sibrel said he is planning unspecified activities for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, but he declined to provide details, saying they are "still in the works."

He contends that the astronauts used a transparency of the Earth, a crescent-shaped piece of black material and other window-camera tricks to falsify film footage of their mission.

Sibrel is affiliated with a Web site (www.moonmovie.com) that denounces "NASA propagandists." and notes that President Barack Obama supports a $2 billion funding extension "for the fake mission to the moon."

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't believe in aliens from outer space, and I grew up as a big fan of the moon missions from age 8 to 14," Sibrel said.

"They really went up (into orbit) and they really splashed down - but they didn't go to the moon. Even the NASA computer-console workers were duped," he said.

Nonsense, said Stuart Robbins, a Ph.D. candidate with the University of Colorado Department of Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences. He has delivered public speeches debunking moon-landing hoaxsters in the Denver area since 2007.

Robbins described the impact of fake-Apollo theories on American culture as "generally psychologically dangerous."

Why? Because the doubters scoff at one of the most profound accomplishments in human history, he said.

"(It) removes credit for achievements from those scientists and engineers who invented those technologies," he said.

In August, the Discovery Channel series "Mythbusters" devoted an episode to moon-landing urban legends: shadows cast on the lunar surface point in different directions; a U.S. flag cannot appear to flap in a vacuum; and so on.

The cast members' experiments "busted" them all.

West Melbourne retiree John Daughtridge believes that he helped perpetuate the myth that man never went to the moon.

Daughtridge worked as an engineer for ILC Industries, a high-tech firm that helped develop the Apollo spacesuits. The company also crafted spacesuits that were filmed during Walter Cronkite's "CBS News" live broadcast of the moon landing.

On a soundstage inside a Northrop Grumman hangar, test pilots wearing these spacesuits simulated activities that the actual astronauts were doing on the moon.

"That's how a lot of the myths started. Sometimes, they would come back from a station break - and they'd catch one of our stagehands out on the lunar surface," Daughtridge recalled.

"A banner went across the screen, 'This is a simulation. This is a simulation,' the whole time this was going on. But some people don't catch on to what's going on," he said.

Daughtridge scoffed at the notion that the moon landings were fictitious.

"How many people worked on this project? Twenty thousand people keeping a secret? It'd be much easier to go to the moon than keep a secret that we didn't," Daughtridge said.

"You can't keep a secret in this country."

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