Back on July 20, 1969, astonishingly to me forty-five years ago, I remember staying up to watch this with my father. Here is a NASA Contractor Report on the flag raising. My father was not the most talkative man in the world, but I could tell he was quite proud when the flag was raised. So was I.
The flag raising has been seized upon by conspiracy theorists who claim that the moon landings were government hoaxes. How could a flag wave without an atmosphere? This has been answered numerous times.
“Most would agree that NASAs’ scientists are among the most brilliant people in the world. It is, therefore, natural to ask why anyone would assume that these men (and women, today) would be so ignorant as to ignore the fact that a flag would flutter being planted on Earth (on a windy day that is), but would not when being planted on the Moon because it has no atmosphere?
There is a simple answer to this question; they would not. NASA’s scientists are, and were, aware that there is no atmosphere on the moon. As such, they were more than prepared for this fact when they sent a flag with Apollo 11 and made sure that the flag would be constructed in such as way that would allow onlookers to see all of the stars and stripes. On the Earth, flags are usually hung from a pole or rod. On the Moon the flag was hung in the same fashion, but with a second rod protruding parallel with the Moons surface from the first rod. It is from this rod that the flag hung, forcing it to stick straight out and be visible. For appearance purposes this rod was slightly shorter than the flag itself, giving it that rippled effect (that is, after all, how we are all use to viewing the flag). Furthermore, when NASAs’ scientists sent Apollo 11 to the moon, they had public policy in mind. When it comes to viewing the flag on the moon, which would make for a better presentation: a limp, dreary flag, or a flag standing proud in its nation’s namesake? I think the response is obvious. The fact is the U.S. flag appears to have ripples in it in photographs on the moon because NASAs’ scientist intended it to.”
Bill Whittle below notes that quite a few young people believe in the conspiracy theories that the moon landing was a hoax. This is a testament to both the ignorance of many people in contemporary society and the ability of people to believe what they wish to believe, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
The moon landings were an amazing feat considering the technology of the time that really was just barely adequate to accomplish it. Our technology in the past 45 years has advanced quite a bit, but I think in what really counts in this Vale of Tears: Faith, Courage, Daring and Optimism for the Future, we have radically declined as a people. Perhaps that is why so many young people refuse to believe that with laughable computers forty-five years ago, along with endless hard work, superb creativity, determination and astronauts who had daring to spare, we became a space faring nation. More’s the pity.