Preface, acknowledgments and notes

Half a century ago mankind first set foot on the Moon. Many of us, including myself, experienced that extraordinary moment as amazing news that filled the papers and magazines and gave us an unforgettable, sleepless night spent gazing at the ghostly live television pictures that reached our homes from another world.

Today, however, to a growing number of people that memorable achievement is literally history: blurred, distant, known only through second-hand stories and often reported tiredly and superficially by mainstream media. Even today, going to the Moon is still an incredible, mythical and unreal challenge, and the idea that we went there in the 1960s – and then stopped going – is, for many, understandably hard to accept.

I offer this book to anyone who honestly seeks to understand what really happened and rightly demands answers to his or her reasonable doubts. To hardcore Moon hoax believers, those who are impervious to any argument and think that they have it all figured out, I offer only my pity. They are unable to enjoy this amazing adventure, which is one of the few peaceful endeavors for which the twentieth century stands a chance of being remembered as something more than a heartbreaking series of wars, devastations and genocides.

However, this book is not just a pedantic refutation of a set of eccentric claims. It’s a celebration of a moment in time that can never be equaled or repeated. Yes, there will be other destinations, other missions, other landings on distant worlds, but the Moon landing of July 1969 will be forever mankind’s first contact with another world. It will always be the first time that humanity proved, albeit for a brief moment, that it is capable of crawling out of its fragile cradle.

What an incredible privilege it is to be alive in that unique, minuscule slice of history in which all this happened, and to be able to personally thank, talk and shake hands with those who accomplished a voyage that for countless centuries was merely a dream beyond the power of even the mightiest king, emperor or pharaoh. To walk on the Moon. This book is my small homage to the courage and ingenuity of all those who contributed to turning that dream into reality. In peace, for all mankind.


I would like to thank all the people who patiently read and checked the drafts of this book and debugged them as they grew online. I am especially indebted to Luca Boschini, John H. Cato, jr, Epsilon, Cesare Guariniello, Hammer, Martin Keenan, Massimiliano Carnevale, Naomi, Razvan Neagoe, Papageno, Giuseppe Regalzi, Luigi Rosa, Claudio Severi, Linden Sims, Roland Suhr, Trystero, Tukler and Larry Turoski for their tireless fact-checking and proofreading. Any surviving mistakes are solely mine.

I am also very grateful to:

  • Terry Watson (Apollo GNC), Eric Jones of the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, and to all the members of the Project Apollo online forum, for helping me through the maze of jargon and technical minutiae and for unerringly answering the bizarre questions of a fellow space geek;
  • Nicola Colotti, Dario Kubler, Fabio Letta, Milco Margaroli, Rodri Van Click, Andrea Tedeschi, Luigi Pizzimenti, Roberto Crippa, Paolo Miniussi, Guido Schwartz, Lukas Viglietti and all the good people of Space Lectures, for organizing amazing encounters and interviews with Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Charlie Duke, Al Worden, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Ed Mitchell and Walt Cunningham, with Mission Control EECOM Sy Liebergot, and with Apollo computer scientist Don Eyles;
  • Diego Cuoghi, for kindly sharing his research;
  • Elena Albertini, for keeping the e-book and paper editions in sync;
  • my daughters Lisa and Linda, who helped me with the technical process of creating the digital edition of this book;
  • my wife Elena, for her endless patience and for organising my many public talks about the Apollo missions and this book.

I would like to thank all the donors who made it possible for me to make this book freely available online and keep it up-to-date.

This book is dedicated to my parents, who woke me up when I was six years old so that I could watch the Apollo 11 Moon landing live on TV in sleepy amazement (it was nighttime in Europe), and to my aunt Iris, who in the early 1970s gave me a copy of Peter Ryan’s enthralling account of the first Apollo missions, The Invasion of the Moon 1957-70. I never recovered from this double bite of the space bug. That dog-eared paperback is still here with me as I write these words. Its pages are fading, but the passion and wonder they have fed for all these years are certainly not.

Free distribution

You may freely copy and distribute this book in its digital editions, provided that you don’t alter it, don’t pass it off as yours and don’t print it for sale without my written permission; the details are in the Copyright notice section. I didn’t write Moon Hoax: Debunked! to become rich and famous, but to allow as many people as possible to get the facts they need to counter the arguments of conspiracy theorists. Just don’t mess with my rights.

However, writing a technical book takes time and hard work; buying manuals and DVDs and documents takes money. So if you like what you read and you feel like lending me a hand on this project, you’re welcome to point out errors or unclear language, help me with research, buy me space reference books from my wish list or donate the equivalent of a genuine Italian pizza and a good beer via my Paypal account as an incentive for me to keep on writing.

Units of measurement and terminology

Throughout this book, all measurements are given in both metric units and US customary units. Unless otherwise specified, mile is understood to reference a statute mile and ton is understood to be a metric ton (1,000 kg). Some rounding may be introduced to avoid unnecessarily pedantic conversion results; e.g., 100,000 feet will be converted to 30,000 meters instead of 30,480. Also, idiomatic expressions such as a couple of inches or a few feet, which suggest a very approximate measurement, will not be converted.

This book uses non-gender specific terms, such as crewed and crewless rather than manned and unmanned, except for names of buildings and programs, in accordance with the NASA History Program Office Style Guide:

In general, all references to the space program should be non-gender-specific (e.g., human, piloted, unpiloted, robotic, as opposed to manned or unmanned). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spaceflight Center (also known as the Manned Spacecraft Center), the predecessor of Johnson Space Center in Houston, or to any other historical program name or official title that included “manned” (e.g., Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight).

Although I’m half British, I’ve used US English rules in this book because I know that otherwise I’ll get heaps of mail complaining about my “misspelling” of colour, metre, tranquillity and so on. Brits, instead, will cringe and bear politely.

Comments, corrections and updates

This book is a work in progress. Apollo’s science and documentation are still being studied today and new Moon probes are providing updates and new opportunities for cross-checking that are included here as they become available.

Also, conspiracy theorists concoct new “evidence” and claims all the time, so you might find that a specific claim hasn’t yet been debunked specifically in this book. You might also find mistakes or typos. If so, let me know by e-mail at, so that the next edition of this book will be updated and corrected.

The changes introduced in the various editions are listed here.

In memoriam

This book wishes to honor those who paid the highest price in order to reach and extend the new frontier, sometimes in secret and often without being remembered even as a footnote of history. The story behind each one of the names that follow is given in the Remembering the fallen chapter.

May we never forget that anyone who denies the Moon landings is sullying the memory of these brave people, of their families and of everyone who worked hard for the exploration of space.

Michael J. Adams

Michael P. Anderson

Charles A. Bassett II

Valentin Bondarenko

David M. Brown

Roger Chaffee

Kalpana Chawla

Laurel B. Clark

Georgi Dobrovolski

Theodore C. Freeman

Edward G. Givens, Jr.

Virgil “Gus” Grissom

Rick D. Husband

Gregory Jarvis

Vladimir Komarov

Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

Christa McAuliffe

William C. McCool

Ronald McNair

Ellison Onizuka

Viktor Patsayev

Ilan Ramon

Judith Resnick

Francis “Dick” Scobee

Elliot McKay See, Jr.

Michael J. Smith

Vladislav Volkov

Ed White

Clifton C. Williams, Jr.

Ad astra per aspera.

NEXT: Updates, corrections and statistics