Neil deGrasse Tyson on Why the Moon Landings DefinitelyWeren’t Fake

Neil deGrasse Tyson has chimed in on one of the century’s most intriguing conspiracy theories: were the Apollo Moon landings staged. The astronomer was understandably certain that the Moon landings, in fact, take place in a piece for Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. While there is, plenty of evidence to support this, deGrasse Tyson points out that faking such events would be extremely difficult. In fact, true achievement is perhaps easier to do than the fake.

“Of course,” he continued, “we landed on the Moon.” “Think about how difficult it would be to stage a Moon landing.” “By the way, we’ve been to the Moon nine times, so we’d have to lie about not going nine times.” “We’d have to fake it if two of them traveled around the Moon, came back, and didn’t land,” he continued.

“Are you aware of what that would entail?” It would be so difficult to stage a Moon landing that it would be easier just to go. It’s possible because of the principles of physics — get over it.”

Research published in 2016 looked into this topic and showed that huge conspiracies involving many individuals — in this example, the US government, scientists, and potentially Hollywood —were not undercover for long, simply because collaborators would chat about it. 

Dr. David Robert Grimes, a physicist and science communicator at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, either investigated whether large-scale conspiracies were possible by devising equations that calculated the likelihood of a secret plot being deliberately exposed to a whistleblower or inadvertently revealed by a blabbermouth.

He discovered that staging a phony Moon landing would need at least 411,000 individuals. It takes many people to keep a tasty secret hidden from so many people. According to his estimates, with this many people, the secret would reveal in less than three years and eight months. 

Since Apollo 11, the first crewed mission to land on the Moon took place more than 50 years ago, it is safe to assume the secret has already been revealed. Dr. Grimes also discovered that less than 1,000 people are required to maintain a covert scheme going undiscovered for more than ten years. 

There should be no more than 125 participants in a century-long scheme. It is better to keep your circle of minions as small as possible if you want to unleash a secret supervillain-style hoax on the globe.