Where did you film the moon landings

Was the moon landing faked in secret film studios?

by Burkard Steinücken, Westphalian public observatory and planetarium Recklinghausen,
Stadtgarten 6, 45657 Recklinghausen, steinruecken (at) sternwarte-recklinghausen.de

Since the adventurous lunar flights of the Americans, the claim has not stopped that NASA faked the moon landings in film studios in the Nevada desert in order to simulate a victory in the race to the moon to the world during the phase of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. These claims are circulating on the Internet today and bitter debates are being fought between conspiracy theorists and scholars.

The topic is also suitable for dealing with the laws of case in physics classes. With the analysis of the video films from the moon, the issue can possibly be resolved. At least an exciting, instructive lesson with criminalistic and funny elements is guaranteed!

Script download: mondfall.pdf (320 kB, with templates)

Selected lunar films to investigate the gravitational acceleration on the moon

The following excerpts from the extensive footage of the Apollo missions enable the gravitational acceleration on the moon to be determined.

If one assumes that the films were made in terrestrial film studios and later published in slow motion to simulate the lesser attraction of the moon, one can reconstruct the films in what is supposed to be the original speed. In a time-lapse playback with a factor of 2.46, the fall processes take place as if they were created under the effect of earthly gravity. When looking at the time-lapse films, you should decide for yourself whether the sequences could have been played by actors on earth at the speed shown.

The film sequences can be called up by clicking on the icons. An installed DivX codec is required for playback.

Exit from the Apollo 14 Lunar Module

a14_ausstieg.avi (2.7 MB)

a14_ausstieg_zr.avi (937 KB)

The astronaut's exit was recorded by a camera that was set up during the previous lunar walk. He jumps from a height of about 1 m from the ladder onto the lunar floor. This sequence can easily be evaluated to determine the acceleration due to gravity on the moon.
Apollo 14 flag

a14_flagge.avi (8.7 MB)

a14_flagge_zr.avi (6.1 MB)

Here the setting up of the American flag is shown. She swings like a pendulum under the influence of the gravity of the moon. However, the period of oscillation also depends on the shape and material properties of the flag, which means that it is not easy to evaluate.
Salute jump in front of the flag

flaggensprung.avi (1 MB)

flaggensprung_zr.avi (1 MB)
The astronaut jumps up at the moment of saluting. The sequence is ideal for determining the acceleration due to gravity.
Hopping on the Moon (Apollo 17)

a17_hopsen.avi (150 KB)

a17_hopsen_zr.avi (150 KB)
The Apollo 17 astronaut tries out hopping and jumping on the moon. You can determine the gravitational acceleration and also the shape of the parabola that your feet follow, if you take into account that a perspective distortion occurs due to the inclined path in the image section.
Fall on the Moon (Apollo 17)

a17_sturz.avi (790 KB)

a17_sturz_zr.avi (630 KB)
The fall of an astronaut while a drill core was hammered into the lunar soil is filmed here. It is noticeable that the clouds of dust are not typically thrown out under atmospheric conditions and spread unchecked in the moon's vacuum.
A stone falls from a shovel (Apollo 16)

a16_steinaufhaben1.avi (5.4 MB)

a16_steinaufhaben1_zr.avi (4.7 MB)
While picking up a moonstone, it falls off the shovel again. The astronaut tries to catch him, but instead hurls him sideways. Unfortunately, the process is not very easy to see.
Picking up a large moonstone (Apollo 16)

a16_steinaufhaben2.avi (9.4 MB)

a16_steinaufhaben2_zr.avi (7.4 MB)
The astronauts are approaching a crater with a large rock near it. After a moment's thought, the astronaut tries to pick it up.
A stone falls out of the backpack (Apollo 16)

a16_steinaufhaben3.avi (3.5 MB)

a16_steinaufhaben3_zr.avi (2.6 MB)
When the astronaut returns from his lunar excursion, a rock loosens and falls out of his backpack when he wobbles, which can be easily observed and evaluated.
Compilation "Moonwalk"

moonwalk.avi (12.7 MB)

moonwalk_zr.avi (10.4 MB)
Here are some sequences of the walking, running, jumping, hopping and falling lunar astronauts strung together. Amusing and instructive, especially for examining the question of whether the time-lapped film could have been made on earth.
Trapping experiment with hammer and feather (Apollo 15)

a15_fallexperiment.avi (7.4 MB)

a15_fallexperiment_zr.avi (6.5 MB)
During the Apollo 15 mission there was apparently enough time for a demonstration experiment on free fall. We are grateful to the astronauts for a unique sequence to demonstrate how different bodies fall at the same speed.
Since there are no frictional influences to inhibit the fall of the bodies on the airless moon, they are only propelled by the lunar acceleration of gravity. The hammer and the hawk feather (in the astronaut's left hand) therefore hit the ground at the same time.
The staged experiment is suitable for demonstrating the laws of fall as well as determining the acceleration due to gravity on the moon and demonstrating the absence of a dense lunar atmosphere.
Test drive with the moon car (Apollo 16)

a16_mondauto1.avi (4.1 MB)

a16_mondauto1_zr.avi (4.1 MB)
The test drive that the Apollo 16 moon car was subjected to has been captured on film. What is remarkable is the type of dust accumulation that cannot be observed under terrestrial atmospheric conditions. If the sequence had been created in the film studio, it would have to be empty and huge, as can be seen from the distance covered and the route taken.
Dust clouds are thrown up when driving on the moon car (Apollo 16)

a16_mondauto2.avi (574 KB)

a16_mondauto2_zr.avi (554 KB)
This film shows the dust masses thrown up while driving from a side view. One can see and evaluate the parabolic flight of the dust masses. The lunar acceleration due to gravity can be obtained from the speed of the moon car, the throwing angle of the dust clouds to the horizontal and the vertex height of the trajectory parabola.
Welcome scene at the Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP)

apollo_sojus.avi (2.7 MB)
In 1975 Apollo astronauts and Soyuz cosmonauts met in Earth orbit. This particular film sequence was obviously shot on the ground, presumably in the simulator during training before the mission. If at the beginning the left cosmonaut tries to hold the cables and loops on his overall inconspicuously, in the next shot they dangle freely in the earth's gravity. And who actually filmed the first shot, because the Soyuz capsule only had two crew members? After all, that also shows "Forward Seals" the Apollo astronaut's greeting: It is not weightless there!

Here is a link to the original video of the mission, you can clearly see the weightless condition during the shoot in comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGMNDqk1iao


by Burkard Steinücken, Westphalian public observatory and planetarium Recklinghausen,
Stadtgarten 6, 45657 Recklinghausen, steinruecken (at) sternwarte-recklinghausen.de