9.1 Why do the astronauts have guilty looks on their faces?

IN A NUTSHELL: Not guilty, but serious. Hoax theorists cherry-pick the photos in which the Apollo astronauts are serious and solemn and claim that they always had that expression because they felt guilty of their deception. Actually, there are plenty of photographs and film clips in which they smile, joke and laugh.

THE DETAILS: It is often argued that Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin had suspiciously gloomy, guilty, sad and reluctant expressions as they were held in quarantine after their Moon trip and during their first post-flight press conference (Figure 9-1).


Figure 9-1. Gloomy expressions of Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin (Apollo 11) during their post-flight quarantine and press conference.


There’s a good reason why they’re serious in that quarantine photo: they’re listening to President Nixon’s formal speech, so it would have been rather inappropriate for them to be laughing their heads off. Once Nixon changes to a less formal tone, the astronauts smile and laugh with him (Figures 9-2 and 9-3).


Figure 9-2. The Apollo 11 astronauts laughing with Nixon. Detail of NASA photo S69-21365.


Figure 9-3. Another moment of shared laughter of the Apollo 11 crew with Nixon.


The apparently gloomy post-flight press conference image is just a carefully selected frame from the film record of the event, which actually includes many moments of laughter, smiles and outright jokes despite the pressure of it being their first press conference after their historic trip.

Contrary to the claims made by some conspiracy theorists, the other lunar astronauts also were anything but sad and guilty-looking after their flights. Over the decades they have been (and still are) part of countless public talks and television events in which they unhesitatingly report their experiences and promote space exploration in many ways, including some unorthodox ones.

Buzz Aldrin, for example, appeared very light-heartedly on Da Ali G Show (2003), recorded a rap song with Snoop Dogg (Rocket Experience, 2009), was a contestant in the 2010 edition of the US show Dancing with the Stars and has guest-starred in TV shows like 30 Rock (2010), Numb3rs (2006) and The Big Bang Theory (2012), as well as in the movie Transformers - Dark of the Moon (2011); his many interviews and appearances include CBC’s Beyond Reason (1977) and ITV (2016). In his autobiography, Magnificent Desolation, he has also acknowledged candidly his successful fight against alcohol and depression.

A special mention goes to Alan Bean, Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon, whose video Apollo 12 Uncensored is a hilarious collection of anecdotes and jokes about their lunar landing that certainly doesn’t appear to suggest guilt or unease.

This Moon hoax claim is probably one of the most significant: it shows very clearly the symptoms of a world vision in which everything, even an ordinary, occasional serious expression, is interpreted as evidence of a colossal conspiracy and the facts are cherry-picked to bend them to that distorted vision.