Wednesday, 9 February 2011
A total of twelve people have landed on the Moon. This was accomplished with two US pilot-astronauts flying a Lunar Module on each of six NASA missions across a 41-month time span starting on July 21, 1969 UTC, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 (with Armstrong being first to set foot on the surface), and ending on December 14, 1972 UTC with Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17 (with Cernan being the last to step off the lunar surface). All Apollo lunar missions had a third crew member who remained onboard the Command Module. The last three missions had a rover for increased mobility.
Apollo 17 was the eleventh manned space mission in the NASA Apollo program. It was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the sixth and final lunar landing mission of the Apollo program. It was a "J-type mission", missions including three-day lunar surface stays, extended scientific capability, and the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972. While Evans remained in lunar orbit above in the Command/Service Module, Cernan and Schmitt spent just over three days on the lunar surface in the Taurus-Littrow valley, performing three EVAs or moonwalks during which they collected lunar samples and deployed scientific instruments. Cernan, Evans, and Schmitt returned to Earth on December 19 after an approximately 12-day mission.
Apollo 17 remains the most recent manned Moon landing and the most recent manned flight beyond low Earth orbit. It also broke several records set by previous flights, including longest manned lunar landing flight; longest total lunar surface extravehicular activities; largest lunar sample return, and longest time in lunar orbit.
Different Moon landing conspiracy theories claim that some or all elements of the Apollo program and the associated Moon landings were hoaxes staged by NASA and members of other organizations. Various groups and individuals have made such conspiracy claims since the end of the Apollo program in 1975. The most notable claim is that the six manned landings were faked and that the Apollo astronauts did not walk on the Moon. The conspiracy theorists argue that NASA and others intentionally deceived the public into believing the landings did occur by manufacturing, destroying, or tampering with evidence; including photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, rock samples, and even some key witnesses themselves. Such claims are common to most of the conspiracy theories.
There is abundant third-party evidence for Apollo Moon landings, and commentators have published detailed rebuttals to the hoax claims. Polls taken in various locations have shown that between 6% and 28% of the people surveyed believed that the manned landings were faked.
There are subcultures worldwide which advocate the belief that the Moon landings were faked. James Oberg of ABC News stated that claims made that the Moon landings were faked are actively taught in Cuban schools and wherever Cuban teachers are sent. A 1999 Gallup poll found that 6% of the Americans surveyed doubted that the Moon landings had occurred and that 5% of those surveyed had no opinion on the subject, which roughly matches the findings of a similar 1995 Time/CNN poll. Officials of Fox television stated that such skepticism increased to about 20% after the February 15, 2001 airing of that network's TV show entitled Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? Seen by approximately 15 million viewers, the 2001 Fox special is viewed as having promoted the hoax claims.
A 2000 poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Fund found that 28% of those surveyed did not believe that American astronauts have been on the Moon, and this percentage is roughly equal in all social-demographic groups. In 2009, a poll conducted by the British Engineering & Technology magazine found that 25% of those surveyed did not believe that humans have walked on the Moon. Another poll gives that 25% of 18-25 year olds surveyed were unsure that the landings happened.
What is fact, we will never truly know what is really there until commercial space craft visit the planet, (probably according to Virgin in the not too distant future). Whether we have visited the moon or not will be down to speculation and debate, there is an argument for both sides, ultimately it is down to the individual to come up with their own conclusions.