The moon landings actually happened, and there's plenty of contemporaneous evidence of it. But what if the United States government wanted to fake a moon landing now?
We have the technology to create pretty convincing images of a moon landing. But is it enough?
My question is this: given the tools we have to uncover and spread information, how could a major government in the present day stage a new moon landing comparable to the Apollo 11 mission?
For the purpose of this question, assume the following:
- This is present-day Earth, except you can swap out relevant political leaders if you'd like.
- But don't assume that they'll be in office when the hoax is completed.
- Pick any government you want as long as they can afford and execute this hoax, and can convince the world it was real.
- All previous lunar missions (manned or otherwise) happened as officially reported, and the results and observations taken from them are accurate.
- If the hoax is exposed with sufficient evidence by a major news outlet at any time before "launch" or within fifty years afterward, it is considered a failure.
- The government you choose announces plans for a real moon landing, and will at some point announce a formal "launch" date.
- The identity of the purported astronauts is public knowledge, and they're in on it.
- The hoax should not cost more than a real trip to the moon.
- There will be an international television broadcast of the landing. It doesn't need to be live, but the general public (including the media outlets delivering it) has to believe that it is.
- The "launch" must occur no later than July 20th, 2035.
- The hoax must not actually involve sending people to the moon. You can send objects or animals there if you have to.
- The more people or organizations who are in on the hoax, the more likely it will fail.
- The "mission" will be a quick visit to the moon, similar to the Apollo 11. You are not trying to convince people that you've colonized the moon.
- The hoax, once begun, will only be canceled if it's exposed.
- The hoax is of a successful lunar mission; the majority of the general public (regardless of country) must believe that all of the "astronauts" went to the moon and safely returned.