Using Basic Physics to Prove we Went to the Moon

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Apollo 17 Astronaut Eugene Cernan on the lunar surface next to the Challenger lander and the mission’s Lunar Rover in the background, December 1972. Image courtesy NASA.

Entire books, many videos, and thousands of hours of time have been wasted building this ‘conspiracy theory’, devoted to “debunking” the Apollo moon missions as some grand government conspiracy.

We have spent much digital ink debunking the claims of Flat Earthers (simply enter “Flat Earth” in the search tool at the top of this page or in the library search, also at the top of the page, to find all these articles). We’re not going to rehash that here.

I was in my early teens in 1969 and was on a road trip to Florida with my parents and brothers, specifically to watch the launch of Apollo 11, the first manned-mission to the lunar surface. We all witnessed the liftoff of the Saturn V launch vehicle and felt the earth shake under our feet as the 36-story tall vehicle slowly accelerated away from the launch pad into the pale-blue Florida sky. We all witnessed the launch. There was no fake – it happened.

So where did it go, if not to the moon?

I’ve posed this question to deniers and conspiracy theorists many times without success. Their answers are as varied as they are incorrect (or absurd). Their claims insult all of us who witnessed these missions, missions that are a part of our collective history and, more importantly, they insult the legacy of the brave heroes who have

 slipped the surly bonds of Earth,

forsaking their own safety, putting their lives at risk for humanity’s progress, riding on top of a massive, controlled explosion to walk the surface of the moon.

We mustn’t allow them, or anyone, to edit and rewrite history. Their efforts to “debunk” the manned moon missions is such an attempt and is the reason I post this article.

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor, simply put, states that the simplest explanation or the least complex, tends to be correct. Applying that reasoning to this topic, not a vast, contorted, Hollywoodesque government conspiracy narrative, would go a long way in maintaining a welcome level of sanity. The claim is that NASA and the US Administrations of the day were so bent on “beating the Russians at the space game” that they would spare no expense at duping an entire generation into believing we went to the moon.

We went to the moon 7 times between 1969 and 1972. Of those 7, 6 of them resulted in a successful lunar landing with a 2-man crew exploring the lunar surface.

Basic Physics

All the time wasted, the books and videos published, the thousands of hours concocting ridiculous conspiracy theories, we debunk them all here with a 3-line solution using basic physics a high-school physics student can work out. We use the very same videos that they used to cast aspersions on the Apollo missions in the first place.

Starting point (0:59 minutes / 1:22)

Ending point (1:00 min / 1:22); note the hammer on the lunar surface. Duration of fall: 1 second.


Commander David Scott, at the conclusion of the last Apollo 15 moon walk, dropped a hammer and feather from the same drop point, and they hit the lunar surface at the same time (as predicted and expected). The drop point is 80 cm above the surface (sternum region of an adult male).

Using the running video time (posted along the foot of the video), we note the hammer strikes the lunar surface 1 second after Commander Scott releases it: 0:59 minute to 1:00 minute, time interval = 1 second.

Height to drop point: 0.8 m (80 cm)
Time to impact: 1 second
0.8m = ½ at2 (distance traveled under uniform acceleration, starting from rest)
Solving for a, we get 1.6 m/sec2, the moon’s local gravitational field strength. By comparison, the earth’s is 9.8 m/sec2, and it would take 0.4 seconds to impact the surface from the same height.


The hammer dropped by Commander Scott was in free-fall acceleration according to a mass equal to that of the moon and its physical radius. This cannot be faked by any elaborate Hollywood production. This same experiment is repeated routinely in high-school and freshman college physics courses everywhere, with a result consistent with the earth’s mass and physical radius, Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation and Second Law of Motion.

Conclusion: The hammer fell at the rate it did because Commander Scott was on the moon. If you were in a production studio in Florida or Los Angeles, it would fall at 9.8 m/sec2, and hit the floor 0.4 seconds later from the same height.


High Flight by John Gillespie Magee Jr.

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

A quick, interactive web-based version of Stellarium is available here Tonight's Sky. When you launch the application, it defaults to north-facing and your location (on mobile and desktop).

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