Top Five: Bizarre space conspiracy theories
We take a look at five of the most ridiculous space conspiracy theories that have somehow found their way into the public domain.
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. They invoke excitement in our minds, and are often so convincing that people suspend rational thought just to believe, if only for a short while, that something remarkably ridiculous could be true. Unfortunately, if you take a step back into the land of logic, you’ll often realise they’re a lot more unbelievable than you originally thought. Here’s five of our favourite theories that are just so bizarre that they become hilarious.
5. Russia planned to hitchhike back from the Moon
The conspiracy: In 1969, as the Apollo 11 astronauts made their way to the Moon, Russia had sent their own unmanned probe called Luna 15 to the lunar surface. This much is true, and there’s even a transcript from the moments that Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK tracked its mission. But, was it really unmanned? This theory goes that Luna 15 actually carried a Soviet cosmonaut. However, owing to what can only be described as a massive oversight, the Soviets didn’t have a means to bring him back from the Moon. So, their plan was to land the cosmonaut near Apollo 11, get him to stroll over and then ask Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin for a lift home. We’re not kidding.
Don’t believe the hype: We can picture the scene now. Neil and Buzz are happily working away, collecting lunar rocks, when a figure appears on the horizon. Bedraggled, tired and thirsty, the human-like figure makes his way over to the Americans, hailing them with a wave. Neil and Buzz are astounded; is this an alien? Are they going to be attacked? They pick up tools to use as makeshift weapons and wait threateningly for the figure’s arrival. He makes it over and, despite a language and communications barrier, manages to convince them that he’s a stray Soviet cosmonaut stranded on the lunar surface looking for a ride home. Neil and Buzz promptly explain that their lunar module can only fit two people, and it doesn’t have the muscle to lift the weight of an extra person. Distraught, the cosmonaut watches on as Neil and Buzz climb in and launch back up to Michael Collins in the command module in lunar orbit, left to perish on the lunar surface alongside an American flag in an ironic twist of fate.
Or, alternatively, that’s just ridiculous. We’ll let you make up your own minds.
4. Planet X/Nibiru is going to destroy us all on 21 December 2012
The conspiracy: Oh, those pesky Mayans. They sure knew how to kick up a fuss. The Mayans had a series of calendars and one of those, the Long Count calendar, just so happens to end on 21 December. Of course, like any calendar, it then starts again on its next count on the 22 December, just as our calendars annually ‘reset’ on New Years’ Day. But that hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theorists coming out in force and proclaiming that the world is soon going to meet its impending doom. The Planet X/Nibiru theory suggests that there is a hidden planet inside (or possibly outside) our Solar System on a collision course with Earth. It’s either hiding behind the Sun, obscured from our view, or its beyond the orbit of Pluto and rapidly making its way towards us. Eek.
Don’t believe the hype: The motion of every body in the Solar System is intricately tracked by astronomers the world over. We know the gravitational influence every body has on another, we know how the planets and other objects interact, and we can predict things so well that we even calculate when planets will transit the Sun or come into view in the night sky thousands of years into the future. If there was a mystery object in the Solar System the size of a planet, it wouldn’t be a mystery. We’d know about it immediately. We’d be able to notice its effect on other objects, and we’d be able to see it. It’s safe to say we’re going to be fine.
3. The Moon landings were (all) a hoax
The conspiracy: In the 1960s NASA managed to convince the entire world that they had successfully landed on the Moon. They spent ten years carrying out fake missions into Earth orbit and then, under the direction of President Kennedy, created a fake launch event (watched by millions), put together a studio to film the “lunar landings”, and just generally deceived us all. Oh, and they also kept the 400,000 people that worked on or towards the Apollo missions quiet, through methods unknown. Mass brainwashing, perhaps? Or with huge wads of cash.
Don’t believe the hype: We’re not going to bother pointing out the obvious inconsistencies in all this, let alone debunk some of the pseudo-science from the lunar surface. Instead, we’ll point you in the direction of the Bad Astronomer, who sums it all up pretty nicely, and leave you with the words of Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “Atop 3,000 tons of rocket fuel, where else do you think they were headed?”