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first trip to the moon

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Bad: When the astronauts are assembling the American flag, the flag waves. Kaysing says this must have been from an errant breeze on the set. A flag wouldn't wave in a vacuum.


Good: Of course a flag can wave in a vacuum. In the shot of the astronaut and the flag, the astronaut is rotating the pole on which the flag is mounted, trying to get it to stay up. The flag is mounted on one side on the pole, and along the top by another pole that sticks out to the side. In a vacuum or not, when you whip around the vertical pole, the flag will ``wave'', since it is attached at the top. The top will move first, then the cloth will follow along in a wave that moves down. This isn't air that is moving the flag, it's the cloth itself.


New stuff added March 1, 2001: Many HBs show a picture of an astronaut standing to one side of the flag, which still has a ripple in it (for example, see this famous image). The astronaut is not touching the flag, so how can it wave?


The answer is, it isn't waving. It looks like that because of the way the flag was deployed. The flag hangs from a horizontal rod which telescopes out from the vertical one. In Apollo 11, they couldn't get the rod to extend completely, so the flag didn't get stretched fully. It has a ripple in it, like a curtain that is not fully closed. In later flights, the astronauts didn't fully deploy it on purpose because they liked the way it looked. In other words, the flag looks like it is waving because the astronauts wanted it to look that way. Ironically, they did their job too well. It appears to have fooled a lot of people into thinking it waved.


This explanation comes from NASA's wonderful spaceflight web page. For those of you who are conspiracy minded, of course, this doesn't help because it comes from a NASA site. But it does explain why the flag looks as it does, and you will be hard pressed to find a video of the flag waving. And if it was a mistake caused by a breeze on the set where they faked this whole thing, don't you think the director would have tried for a second take? With all the money going to the hoax, they could afford the film!


Note added March 28, 2001: One more thing. Several readers have pointed out that if the flag is blowing in a breeze, why don't we see dust blowing around too? Somehow, the HBs' argument gets weaker the more you think about it. http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html#flag'>http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html#flag


If you want any other questions about the landing addressing: http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html

Edited by StringJunky
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Mythbusters actually did an episode (Episode 104, 2008) that included a waving flag in a vacuum in a vacuum chamber, demonstrating exactly what StringJunky is talking about. When you twist the pole it looks like the flag is waving in a breeze, when it actuality, it's just the motion of the pole being transmitted through the cloth.

Edited by Greg H.
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In the early 1970s, when the Apollo missions were all over the news, the Soviet Union, and every other nation on Earth, would have been very eager to prove the US was faking the Moon landings. It would also have been extremely embarassing to NASA, the president, and the entire nation, if any other nation could prove the Moon missions were a hoax. It was nearly impossible to fake the Apollo missions.

Edited by Airbrush
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