Was Moon Landing Real? Russia Plans New Flight to Find Out

Russia's space agency plans to send a mission to the moon to check whether the American moon landings were real.

In a video posted to Twitter on Saturday, Dmitry Rogozin, the Director General of Roscosmos, said: "We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they've been there or not."

Rogozin announced the project after he was asked whether he believed NASA landed on the moon in 1969. The agency head shrugged as he answered, making it unclear whether or not he was joking.

Отвечаю на вопросы президента Молдавии: были ли американцы на Луне, зачем у @roscosmos есть истребители и трамваи и как российская космонавтика поможет молдавскому винограду?https://t.co/IRV3HUT6Sz

— РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) November 24, 2018

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This isn't the first time a Russian official has questioned whether the moon landings were faked.

In 2015, Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the government's Investigative Committee said he would support an probe aimed at plugging some apparent gaps in the moon landing story. The article was written in response to the U.S. launching a corruption investigation into officials at FIFA, the world soccer governing body.

In a piece for the Russian newspaper Izvestia he wrote he wanted to understand why the original footage from the landing some five decades ago vanished, and to confirm the location of lunar 400kg rock brought back to Earth over a number of missions between 1969 and 1972.

"U.S. prosecutors having declared themselves the supreme arbiters of international football affairs," he said.

"We are not contending that they did not fly [to the moon], and simply made a film about it. But all of these scientific — or perhaps cultural — artifacts are part of the legacy of humanity, and their disappearance without a trace is our common loss. An investigation will reveal what happened," a translation by the Moscow Times quoted Markin as writing at the time.

The idea that the moon landing was faked is one of the most common conspiracy theories. For decades, conspiracists have pored over footage and photos from the historic day to find evidence it never happened at all. Some believe the whole thing was staged in a studio.

Last year, one such moon landing skeptic flagged an image apparently taken in December 1972 of the final Apollo 17 moon mission, citing it as proof that the landings were faked.

In a YouTube video, user Streetcap1 claimed the reflection of a "stagehand" is visible on an astronaut's helmet.

"I thought it looked a bit strange, so I took a picture of it using my software," Streetcap1 said in the video.

Aware of such claims, experts have sought to combat the conspiracies with scientific evidence.

"A vast weight of evidence supports the fact that humans really did land on the Moon multiple times between 1969 and 1972," the U.K.'s National Space Centre writes on its website.

"But it is important to question and think critically about events of this scale – and sometimes researching and puzzling out the answers can be half the fun!"