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Fly me to the moon

  • Published at 12:03 am July 22nd, 2019
Moon
Photo: BIGSTOCK

Conspiracies surrounding the moon landing still prevail

Fifty years on and the conspiracies are still running strong, proliferating in all formats, from movies to articles.

To be honest, many still believe resolutely that the US actually staged the moon landing in 1969 to snub their space rivals, the USSR, and take the glory for around two decades of intense space competition. The most common theory is that the entire thing was shot in a Hollywood studio, and then fed to the world to see and marvel.

Some even say that this was a Cold War triumph when the US and USSR were locked in a fight to outdo each other in technological achievements. Any success was underpinned by their respective ideologies: Capitalism for the US, communism for the USSR.

On the 50th anniversary of the special day when mankind made a giant leap out of this planet, the moon still remains a source of enigma and mystery. Amazingly, conspiracy theories fail to die out. But the question is: Do we actually want these speculations to end? I don’t think so, because conspiracy theories add to the allure of the moon -- these stories, some downright preposterous, multiply the moon’s cachet.

When we were children, back in the mid-70s, the best moon-related theory which went around among our domestic help was that man actually came close to the moon but when the satellite was one foot away, they heard a divine order to go back. And so, terrified of angering some mighty space demon, they came back to Earth. I’ll be honest, during power outages in the 70s, we used to lie by the side of our domestic help, and pester them repeatedly to tell us the moon story.

Obviously, the ending never changed but the narrative about the journey towards the moon was always embellished. The constant allusion to some unknown space entity made the stories riveting.


Jules Verne, Tintin, and Capricorn One
The first book that we read about moon exploration was Journey to the Moon by Jules Verne. The plot opens in a gun club in post-civil war US where a plan is made to make a special cannon which would fire a projectile towards the moon.

Well, this idea may seem absurd now but as a thriller, the book managed to capture our imaginations. At the same time, we were also fantasizing about moon adventures because of the Tintin comics. But the tilt towards conspiracy appeared more appealing with the release of the 1977 movie Capricorn One. The film is actually a conspiracy thriller but instead of the moon, the planet shown is Mars.

In the movie, NASA is about to send a spacecraft to Mars and the astronauts are ready. However, before lift-off, the astronauts are removed and taken to a remote location in the desert.

The shuttle launch goes on as planned and the world thinks the astronauts are in it but in fact the craft is empty. A fake landing is filmed where the astronauts are held captive and broadcast to the people.

On entry, the craft is burned down and the astronauts are believed to be dead. Well, in fact, they are alive but will have to be terminated to prevent the scam from being discovered.

never mentions the moon landing though conspiracy theory about the moon landing is the potent leitmotif. Now the US could not point fingers at the Russians for these theories because the sceptics originated within America itself.

The other theory which we heard quite a lot was about Neil Armstrong, who is thought to have heard an eerie sound when he landed on the moon.

According to those who propagated this story, Armstrong was shaken by the sound which is believed to have haunted him as long as he lived. In astrology, the moon has a pivotal place, or shall we say, the influence of the moon is deemed very powerful. Almost all astrologers are wary of the impact of the full moon on human nature.

Usually, astrologers are unwilling to talk about their trade but once, someone opened up to me and said that the full moon period, meaning roughly five to six days when the moon is seen almost in full glory, the impact on the human psyche, behavior, and luck is immense.

Usually, the effect is a negative one, as one astrologer tells me.

Writers, romantics have moved away from the ominous impact of the moon to romanticize it, the astrologer told me. Well, I leave it up to you to see if you face unfortunate situations during the full moon or not. Maybe there might be some truth in what he said.

The latest conspiracy I hear is that there will be an effort to establish a colony on the moon, where people will go for holidays in the future. There is also talk that President Trump may revive President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” plan, and establish a defense station on the moon. For some reason, moon voyages are on the priority list of several countries.

A lunar observation station may serve many purposes, including keeping an eye on the adversary from a safe and distant spot. Well, let the moon conspiracies thrive and develop because without them any discussion on Earth’s satellite becomes mundane.

Towheed Feroze is News Editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.