NASA Space Center and Space missions enjoy not only the public attention but many myths and stories. From the historic moon landing of Apollo 11 to the myths of Apollo 18 being secretly carried out, there are many interesting myths, to be debunked. Let us have a look at some of them.
1. Astronauts were contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms.
Before the humans first landed on the moon, some scientists theorized that they will be contaminated with lunar pathogenic microorganisms, and the human body will not be immune to it. On their return, the astronauts were also kept in a quarantine facility for 21 days, now on display at NASA Space Center. However, there was no ill effect of exposure to material on the moon being observed.
2. UFO spotting
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin casual remark that he ‘thought’ he saw a UFO gave rise to this myth of him spotting a UFO, while it was explained in the same breath that the team saw “one of the panels from the separation of the spacecraft from the upper stage.”
3.The invention of Space Pen
It is a common science-lore that writing in zero gravity was a problem, and millions of dollars were spent to invent a pen which could write in space. The pen was actually developed by a private company. NASA had originally used pencils which were costlier and later switched to the cheaper option of the space pen.
4. Buzz Aldrin and not Armstrong was to be the first to land on the lunar surface
These two landed on the moon, but Armstrong was the first. There is a popular myth that Armstrong was purposely selected to land first so that NASA Space Center could make a point that civilians will lead the charge of space exploration. In fact, both Aldrin and Armstrong have has a career in the military, and it was simply Armstrong’s turn to be a commander.
5. NASA invented Tang to use on the Apollo Missions.
The instant energy drink was invented during the 1950’s. While NASA did adopt the product on their space mission, its development just happened in the same era, so as many other scientific innovations like Teflon and Velcro as well. These weren’t, however, invented at the NASA Space Center.
6. If it wasn’t for the space pen, our astronauts would be stranded on the moon.
So when Aldrin and Armstrong had to come back from the moon, they realized that a circuit required to power the engine was not working. The myth goes that to complete the circuit, the astronauts used the space pen. In reality, they used an ordinary felt pen.
7. NASA didn’t return to the moon because the blueprint to the rocket was lost.
Another rumor being propagated in the 1990’s was that NASA didn’t return to the moon simply because they lost the blueprints of the Saturn V Rockets. NASA quickly pointed out that the microfilm is in storage at the Marshall NASA Space Center. The rocket technology since the Apollo times have actually advanced and the rocket parts are no longer made.
8. The Apollo 18 mission was secretly carried out by the Department of Defence.
The movie ‘Apollo 18’ depicts that DoD had revived the Apollo 18 mission for some secret mission. NASA has termed the movie a ‘mockumentary’ and maintains that ‘there never was a DoD-dedicated Apollo mission and no astronauts named Anderson, Walker or Grey were ever selected for NASA’s astronaut corps, as the movie depicts, or failed to return from the moon.’
9. The Apollo program was popular amongst the Americans.
It is commonly believed that landing on the moon was very popular with the Americans. On the contrary, polling data suggests that most Americans didn’t support the program. Even after the landing, only a little more than 50% found it worth the cost.
10. Hostile alien life forms on the lunar surface were encountered.
This myth is a fascinating possibility for the Science fiction enthusiasts, however, any astronaut who has ever landed on the moon has encountered any lunar life form.