Imagine it's an alternate July 20th, 1969. The American people and anybody with a television set watch as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin step out of the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle and become the first humans to walk on the Moon's surface. Over half a billion people across the world watch this broadcast, and everyone hails it as the greatest human achievement of the 20th century...until multiple members of NASA personnel begin coming forward, claiming that the Apollo 11 crew never really left Earth. Months of government denial, scandals, dismissals, protests, and leaked documents/photos eventually lead to the American people and everyone on Earth finally learning the truth in 1970: the Apollo landing was covertly faked on a government soundstage.

If this ever did happen, what would be a plausible geopolitical ramification of the moon landing being exposed as a fake ?

My question isn't about HOW the Moon landing could've been faked, but what political and scientific backlashes the United States government would face from trying to fake the landing.

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    $\begingroup$ Neat idea, but I think this question is way too broad: "What would be the full ramifications?" You will need to narrow it down. It's also missing some important info: in this alternate universe, exactly how much of the space race was real and how much was faked? And, what about non-US space efforts, e.g. was Sputnik real? $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Mar 18, 2022 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with @Tom and the other huge bit of missing background is where the money went. One of the big criticisms of the moon landing conspiracy theory is that with the technology limits back then it would have cost more to convincingly fake the landing than to actually do it. If it was a fake then actions regarding the money recipients would be key but the OP does not specify who that is. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2022 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ The other NASA missions except up to the Apollo 11 landing were real, as well as the USSR's other space exploration achievements. And I've decided to narrow it down to just the scientific and geopolitical consequences that the United States would face for actually trying to fake the Moon mission. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2022 at 3:59
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    $\begingroup$ I'm with @VogonPoet on this. It is crucial to describe how the landing wes faked. For example, Apollo 11 placed a retroreflector on the Moon, which is used for measuring the distance to Moon very precisely. If the Apollo 11 landing was faked, how did this mirror get there? And where did the lunar rocks come from? The how is both important and quite interesting. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 18, 2022 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ (2/2) Since any "reveal" would likely come from the Soviets, the USA would likely dismiss any and all evidence as red propaganda, and simply deny, deny, deny forever. NASA personnel who "come forward" would simply be branded as Soviet agents and as McCarthyism and "red scare" was still somewhat in-vogue, the "Soviet Assets" would simply be disappeared and sent to concentration camps or whatever. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Mar 18, 2022 at 16:48

1 Answer 1

  • An international loss of faith in the US
    Some people (who are inclined to support the US anyway) might have some admiration in this audacious psy-op to help win the Cold War. More would seize on it to dismiss other, unrelated statements by the US. Expect more Whataboutism in international discourse. But then the Weapons of Mass Distraction didn't totally discredit the US, and they were used to justify an invasion.

  • A domestic increase in conspiracy theorists
    There have always been crackpots. A couple of decades ago, they might have handed out mimeographed or typed leaflets with bad typesetting and an excessive number of exclamation marks. Today, they have YouTube or Telegram channels. They latch onto not proven issues regarding the Kennedy assassination, and complete nonsense about certain fast food restaurants.
    Having the mainstream believe in one conspiracy theory will prompt more people to believe in other conspiracy theories.

  • A convenient lever for science denial
    There are groups who publicly deny climate change, tobacco lethality, or the effectiveness of vaccination. One might think that one more topic does not matter, but that again brings up Whataboutism. "If they lied about the Moon, you can go on driving gas-guzzling SUVs."

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    $\begingroup$ Considering the time period, it is more believable the conspiracy nutjobs are the ones who claim smoking is bad for you and not the other way around. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 18, 2022 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron, my point is that nutcases thrive on a diet of lies, what will happen when they get some real facts to go along with them? $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 18, 2022 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ But real facts are commonplace $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 18, 2022 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ +1 interesting observations about the consequences of finding out some major event did not actually happen (any event). The moon landing specifically would discredit all space travel: you can tell your audience Hubble's images are faked, the shuttle never exploded, there are no rovers on Mars and you can't reach the moon, because the Earth is flat... the moon is just a lamp on a rail hanging from the ceiling, light years away from us. The moon is fake. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 18, 2022 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies, not just the moon, but any result a layperson cannot reproduce. Climate change? Just weather! Tobacco? I know a smoker who got 100 years old! $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 19, 2022 at 5:34

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