Dmitri Orlov on the Moon Landings

Introduction by Peter Meyer: In 2009-2011 the late Dave McGowan published his multi-page Wagging the Moondoggie which was then (and still is) the best and most detailed debunking of the alleged Apollo Moon Landings. In May 2016 (or earlier) Serendipity published an article which also effectively debunked the alleged Moon Landings, The Myth of Apollo — Did the USA Really go to the Moon? In July 2019, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the alleged Moon Landings Dmitri Orlov published an article, Highly Unlikely Conspiracies, which succinctly demonstrates that it is (to borrow a term used by former British Prime Minister Theresa May in connection with the hoax of the alleged poisoning of the Skripals) "highly likely" that the alleged Moon Landings never occurred, and thus that the story of the Apollo missions was a Big Lie.

And if the U.S. government would lie about this, to its citizens and to the rest of the world, what would it not lie about? Including what happened in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. Its credibility is now zero. Only willing idiots continue to believe anything it says.

What follows is an extract from Dmitri Orlov's article.


In conspiracy theory, as in guerrilla warfare, you don’t have to win. You just have to not lose long enough for the enemy to give up.

When calling bullshit some techniques are more powerful than others. Pointing out physical impossibilities is the best. The [alleged] poisoning victim [Skripal] left his house never to return before the perpetrators smeared the toxic gas on the doorknob of its front door. Beyond that there is the preponderance of evidence technique: pointing out a very large number of incongruous details that cast doubt on the official story, forcing the debunkers to tackle each and every one of them by providing plausible explanations for each one.

Short of demonstrating physical impossibility, there is an almost equally powerful technique: pointing out (using physics and math, if possible) that the event, as described, was highly unlikely. There is a common saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Analogously, if something is highly unlikely, it probably didn’t happen. The burden of proof then rests with whoever claims that it did happen.

Let’s work through an example. Some people still claim that American astronauts landed on the Moon. ... About a quarter of Americans didn’t believe that the Moon landings happened at the time they were said to have taken place. Five decades later the doubters form solid majorities within many parts of the world.

The Apollo mission story was never particularly believable. The preponderance of evidence technique has been used to poke lots of holes in it. Here’s a very much shortened list of the incongruities:

First, there are multiple signs of forgery. There are multiple indications that the official Lunar landing photographs were shot in a studio. In all of the photos lunar dust the wrong color: flat gray instead of reddish. Quite plausibly, the studio simulated the cratered lunar surface by filling it with Portland cement and throwing rocks and pebbles at it. Shadows don’t run parallel but converge to a point, indicating that the source of the illumination was a studio light rather than sunlight. The claim that the photos were shot on the Moon using a film camera is implausible because temperatures on the lunar surface are too cold for film to work at all in the shadow and hot enough to melt the film in sunlight with nothing in between. In any case, since the Moon lies outside the Van Allen belts, solar and interstellar radiation would have at least fogged, and probably ruined the film. Astronauts, who had cameras strapped to their chests and wore cumbersome pressurized gloves, couldn’t have plausibly framed, focused and exposed virtually all of the shots to produce perfect studio quality. In some official photos the shadows run in different directions because multiple studio lights had been used. The video of astronauts cavorting on the lunar surface appears to also have been shot in a studio on Earth and shown in slow motion. There is no crater under the lunar lander which would have been formed by the engine during descent. The dust under the lander is undisturbed except for footprints. Clearly, the lander was placed on the scene using a crane. In all of the photos the sky is completely black instead of being filled with brilliant stars, planets and galaxies.

Second, there are multiple signs of cover-up and guilty demeanor. All of the magnetic tapes from the Apollo missions have been destroyed along with most of the plans. In particular, blueprints of the lunar lander are nowhere to be found. The astronauts, when asked to swear on a Bible on camera that they have been to the Moon, reacted rather strangely and refused. The lunar rocks that were supposedly retrieved from the Moon and given out as presents have turned out to be either missing, indistinguishable from asteroids that have been collected by Antarctic expeditions, or fossilized wood from the Nevada desert. Also, the Apollo missions being the crowning achievements of human space exploration, we would expect a huge deal to have been made of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, which was just a few days ago, but nothing of the sort happened.

All of this is quite puzzling but rather inconclusive and open to counterargument and rationalizations. On the other hand, it is difficult to argue that the Apollo missions were outright physical impossibilities. But it is quite possible to argue that they were highly unlikely — so highly unlikely that the chance of all of them transpiring as described is sufficiently negligible as to be discounted entirely. Sure, the suicide stabbed himself in the back through the heart 10 times over a five-year period — and survived. A likely story!

First, a bit of probability theory: in evaluating the probability of success of a sequence of events, the probabilities of each step in the sequence multiply. As was correctly pointed out by the Nazi-American rocket scientist Werner von Braun, a simple version of a single multistage rocket that flies to the Moon, lands and flies back, would have required a rocket of such ridiculously huge dimensions that it was unthinkable. But probably unbeknownst to von Braun, a more complicated and more doable version of the mission had already been worked out by the Russian scientist Yuri Kondratyuk back in 1919, and which the Apollo program adopted. It made it possible to limit the starting payload size to 100-140 tonnes — something that a Saturn V rocket could handle. The problem with Kontratyuk’s version is that it introduced many new potential points of failure.

Let’s enumerate the steps of Kondratyuk’s method. A multiple-stage rocket lifts the payload to near-Earth orbit. The orbital module separates from the last stage of the rocket, turns around and docks to the lunar module. Then the last stage of the rocket fires again, accelerating to Earth boost velocity and driving it toward the Moon. Then the rocket stage disconnects and crashes into the Moon along a ballistic trajectory. Then the lunar modules brake and enter lunar orbit. Then the lander undocks from the orbital module, descends and lands on the Moon. Then, once the mission on the surface is completed, the ascent module disconnects from the lander, fires its rocket to enter lunar orbit and docks to the orbital module. After the crew is transferred to the orbital module, the ascent module is disconnected. Then the orbital module fires its rocket to fly back to Earth. Before reentry, the crew is transferred to the descent module, the service module separates and the descent module plummets through the atmosphere.

Count the steps: there are 13 of them. Now, suppose that each step is 99% reliable. Then the probability of the overall mission being successful is 0.9913 or 88%. Problem is, practical experience of failures during space missions during the 60s and 70s puts the chance of success at each step at around 60%. Now, 0.613 gives us the chances of success of any given Apollo mission that lands on the Moon at 0.13%. There were purportedly six Apollo missions that landed on the Moon. 0.00136 gives us a truly astronomically small probability of success: 5×10–18. That’s one chance of success for every 200,000,000,000,000,000 attempts.

Suppose you don’t like the 60% reliability number. Maybe those NASA scientists were just extraordinarily good and managed to make each step 90% reliable — a tall order, considering that they had to get it right on first try. Then the chance of all six Apollo missions being successful is one in 3,707. But then the 90% number is itself highly unlikely.

As far as “highly unlikely” goes, the Apollo missions pretty much set the gold standard. It leads us to conclude that it is highly unlikely that any Americans ever set foot on the Moon. Now, a lot of people are understandably flabbergasted at the possibility that it has been possible to pull off a hoax of this magnitude for 50 years. Sure, that’s highly unlikely too. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the readers to calculate the probability of pulling it off, but my hunch is that it is many orders of magnitude higher than one in 200,000,000,000,000,000 because I think it highly unlikely that an overwhelming percentage of highly compensated professionals wouldn’t keep their mouths shut in order to save their jobs, protect their reputations and, if the stakes are high enough, stay alive.

So, yeah, sure, Americans landed on the Moon six times. Lucky, lucky Americans! Soooo lucky!


Shortly after publishing the above, Dmitri Orlov replied on his blog to those innocents who wonder how it was possible for all those NASA employees to keep the secret? The question assumes, falsely, that most of them knew it was a hoax.

How to Fake a Mission

Some people, unable to argue against all the evidence that the Apollo missions to the Moon were all faked, fall back on the defense that faking them and keeping the fakes secret would have been too difficult. It is possible to counter them simply by throwing a logic textbook in their general direction: what’s harder to do, land on the Moon six times with zero casualties, or fake the whole thing and keep it quiet? The latter is just an exercise in public relations, and PR ain’t rocket science. Another approach is to get specific. Information on how exactly the whole thing was faked isn’t particularly hard to find if you know where to look. Steps in faking the Moon landings were the following:

  1. Bribe or browbeat the Soviet leadership of Nikita Khrushchev and subsequent Soviet and Russian leaders to go along with the fake and to keep it quiet.
  2. Simulate launches of Saturn V rockets, none of which could have ever made it to space.
  3. Simulate radio communications between flight control center and the flight crew using radio relays.
  4. Falsify lunar rocks supposedly retrieved from the Moon.
  5. Simulate videos and photos supposedly made while on the Moon with the help of Stanley Kubrick.
  6. Destroy a great deal of evidence in order to make the fake harder to prove.
  7. Stonewall all those who kept asking obvious questions for five decades running.
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If you still believe that the Moon Landings actually occurred then (poor thing) you can easily ditch that belief (it's not difficult) by reading the following:


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