The latest US propaganda stunt has been an attempt to “celebrate” the 50th anniversary of the “moon landing saga”. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this memory has been exploited by the directors who put together this American propaganda for one main reason — to unite a deeply divided America, albeit briefly, by boosting the morale and patriotism in the country.
On July 16, 1969, the crew on board the Apollo 11 were launched into space by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The US propaganda machine got great mileage out of the “lunar mission”, which it went on to use in order to rehabilitate its image in the space race, which the Soviet Union had been leading for years.
The American Air & Space magazine acknowledges the Soviet Union’s unprecedented success, which started with Sputnik 1 (the first artificial Earth satellite), then there was the first man in space, the first spacewalk, the first soft landing on the moon, the first lunar rover, and the first photographs of the lunar far side. The Soviet Union took the first step in the space race when it launched “Sputnik 1” on October 4, 1957, which was the size of a basketball. The satellite launch received a lot of attention in the United States, because the Americans feared that the same technology could be used to target the United States with nuclear missiles. That is why the United States made space exploration and promoting America’s achievements in space a priority 70 years ago, not only to compete in the arms and space race, but also for political warfare.
This is precisely why the “lunar saga” has played a special role in propaganda coming from Washington. It is constantly “gaining momentum”, despite the fact that the news was met with a barrage of questions from the international community almost immediately after the moon landing was aired, casting doubt over whether or not it had actually happened. To list just a couple of them, the American flag, which Armstrong and his fellow Apollo 11 crew member Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin placed on the lunar surface, fluttered in the wind, and the photographs of the moon landing were of a very high quality. One of the arguments that stands out is that the photos were not taken on the moon, because the sky is completely black in almost all of the shots, and you cannot see any stars in the sky, which many skeptics argue is proof that the moon landing was shot in a studio on Earth. New arguments that challenge the credibility of the moon landing are constantly being made. For instance, the Chinese “Chang’e-4” robotic spacecraft recently achieved a soft landing on the far side of the moon (the dark, unseen side), which got the whole world talking: after examining images taken by China’s lunar probe, a number of Chinese scientists and politicians questioned whether or not the Americans had really made that landing in 1969.
It therefore comes as no surprise that, according to surveys published by various different media sources, up to 30% Americans and almost twice as many Russians believe that six lunar landing missions, the six “Apollo” missions, never really happened, because they had actually been staged on Earth.
The United States Apollo lunar program was terminated in 1972. However, US Vice President Mike Pence announced quite recently that American astronauts will “return to the moon” in 2024.
The starry-eyed campaign promoting lunar missions is far from the reality, and any space saga comes with serious drawbacks, just like 50 years ago, particularly the health risks that astronauts are exposed to on these “sagas”.
It has long been known that a long stint in space takes its toll on the human body. NASA has observed that astronauts who have returned from the International Space Station often experience visual impairments and suffer from headaches. Scientists have now found that changes in the brain do not revert even after returning to Earth. It is not yet known whether these changes affect a person’s cognitive capacity.
The “Apollo 8” crew members who set out on their mission in 1968 were the first to report space sickness. The Apollo 9 astronauts suffered such a terrible bout of space sickness that their spacewalk had to be put off. The NASA reduced-gravity aircraft where you can experience weightlessness is unofficially referred to as a “vomit comet” because people get so nauseous on board.
It is widely known that microgravity has a serious impact on your metabolism, thermoregulation, heart rate, muscle tone, bone density, vision and your respiratory system. On top of all of this, last year Russian scientists discovered that microgravity causes alarming changes in the immune system to such an extent that astronauts will have to put up a tough fight just to shake off a minor virus like the common cold.
Space agencies are particularly concerned about the effects of solar and cosmic radiation, which space suits are designed to protect astronauts from above all else. The protection space suits provide play a crucially important role for astronauts on missions to Mars or the moon. After being exposed to high levels of radiation, sometimes astronauts look like boneless chickens when they return to Earth. It has been widely reported that NASA is developing new space suits, but the Russians have significantly overtaken the Americans after creating the “Orlan-ISS” space suit, which has already been put to the test in space, but it will take another few years before NASA’s new space suits will be ready. This is where another question comes to mind, casting yet another shadow of doubt over the American lunar landings: how did they do it without reliable space suits?
The popularity of the “lunar program” is experiencing a revival today, and many states with space agencies are already trying to take advantage of this to create their own propaganda. Every spacefaring nation, as well as several ambitious individuals who are superrich, such as SpaceX founder Elon Musk and billionaire Richard Branson, have set a manned flight to the moon as one of their new goals in their plans and dreams. They also cite their interest in lunar minerology programs, but experts believe that when it comes to extracting these minerals, a certain mentality can kick in, “the principle of the discoverer”: if my flag is there, it’s my territory. And this is where a propaganda war can potentially morph into an armed conflict, given that the United States in particular has begun to heavily rely on armed conflict as a means of asserting itself as a hegemonic power on Earth, going into more and more armed conflicts.
America’s space agency NASA has already initiated the new “moon race” and is fighting for additional funding, after enduring a “weak phase” due to a chronic lack of funds. In the heyday of the Apollo program, NASA received an astronomical 4.5% of the US budget, but now the space agency is only being allocated 0.5%. President Donald Trump just recently signed the “Space Policy Directive No. 1”, instructing NASA to take Americans to the moon again within the next ten years, and Congress has allocated $ 20.7 billion for new plans.
Modern space research is a true gold mine for new technologies, to learn more about the world we live in, how it was created, and how it developed. That is why space should not be reduced to an excuse for propaganda wars and new armed conflicts!
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.