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First Commercial Moon Mission Approved 601

dorantrist writes "A Discovery Channel article that The U.S. Government has just licensed the first commercial mission to the moon to TransOrbital, Inc.. Part of the mission is "to VERIFY Apollo and other landing sites" because there are still a few people out there who believe the Apollo program was a hoax. --Maybe they can also pickup the golf balls left by Alan Shepard?"
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First Commercial Moon Mission Approved

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  • Verify? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ( 84577 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:01PM (#4201189) Homepage
    Who thinks that people silly enough to believe the first trip to the moon was a hoax will now believe that this trip is for real?
  • " VERIFY Apollo and other landing sites"

    Great, they're going to send back fake pictures of the Apollo landing site...
    • by rmdyer ( 267137 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:36PM (#4201524)
      ...many Europeans still don't believe people have actually landed on the North American continent!

      Many believe that life on other continents is just to absurd an idea to take seriously. Or, if life is there, the ocean is just too big a distance to cross, so we will never know.

      In fact there is an European internet project called SATI@home, or Search for American Territories Intelligence, that is listening for intelligent life in North America. This project may fail though. If there is life in North America, it is likely that Europeans would never be able to decode the meaning of any of the messages or culture.

      Many Europeans think its all just political mumbo jumbo anyway. ;)

      "The concept most foreign in all religions is that of a universe existing forever. Beginnings and endings are a fools dream."
  • by rberton ( 456041 ) <riley.mosey@org> on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:04PM (#4201212) Homepage
    I wanna know what right the US has to grant commercial missions to the moon. Like we are the only country that has rights to the moon as a resource.

    The next big wars will be over space shipping lanes.

    • We didn't have to let them take off from our airspace.
      • You didn't... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:07PM (#4201242)
        "Trailblazer is expected to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan within the next nine to 12 months. "

        So, WTF does it have to do withthe US government?

        • Re:You didn't... (Score:5, Informative)

          by FlexAgain ( 26958 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:23PM (#4201400)
          "Trailblazer is expected to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan within the next nine to 12 months. "

          So, WTF does it have to do withthe US government?

          From the Space Law [] pages:

          "The Outer Space Treaty states that States Parties shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried out by governmental agencies or non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the treaty. The Treaty further states that the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party."

          Presumably TransOrbital is registered in the US, so the US government will be responsible for supervising any activities.
          • Re:You didn't... (Score:5, Informative)

            by pblase ( 93639 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @04:14PM (#4202217) Homepage
            Yep, that's it. Two licenses required:

            1) The remote-sensing permit from NOAA assures that we act in accordance with international treaties in regard to the imaging. NOAA also inspects for compliance with other things, like the Outer Space Treaty (especially with regards to space debris control).
            see []

            2) The export permit lets us ship the spacecraft to Baikonur for launch. State does a rather meticulous inspection of the company's methods for handling technology security to avoid illegal technology transfer.
            see []

        • > Trailblazer is expected to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan within the next nine to 12 months. "
          >So, WTF does it have to do withthe US government?

          A U.S. company plans to build high-tech toys, stuff them into a Russian rocket and launch it from Kasakhstan.

          Even though the Cold War is over, the phrase "technology transfer" still applies.

          (Word to the US Government: Want to reduce the risks of technology transfer? How about giving up the NASA monopoly and resulting prohibitive launch costs that have driven US companies to launch from Europe and former Soviet republics by opening up space to private developers in the United States?)

        • The USA take responsibility for launches by Americans from any point in the world, not just America. You need a launch license if you are American.

          Launching for Baikonur must be about the easiest license to get though, since the Russians have already shown that the chances of landing on someone is miniscule from there; and that's what they're interested in ensuring. Otherwise under international law the US government is financially responsible for any losses.

    • Legal status of the moon according to the UN: []

      No mention of the United States as having any special rights.
      • The Moon Belongs to the Zhti Ti Kofft, or as we more commonly call them, Martians. They have a base [] on the dark side of the moon.
      • What sort of jurisdiction does the UN have over the moon to settle the matter? The moon isn't a member nation, I didn't bother to see if the US was a signatory in its goofy 'moon rules'

        I think the old-timey notion of 'we got here first' applies to the moon, so far as the moon as a piece of real estate.

        btw, my favorite part of the UN agreement is:

        "All activities on the moon, including its exploration and use, shall be carried out in accordance with ... Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations."

        Sure! Because we dont want to piss off the moon people!

        Who sez the UN is a waste of time?
        • Actually, the UN agreement on the Moon is very similar to the way things are set up for Antarctica. No one "owns" it -- everyone shares.

          Of course, it won't be until after we use it as a Penal Colony and an AI organizes a decent revolution that Luna will become truely free.

          (For the confused -- that is the basic plot of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by R. A. Heinlein)
    • >The next big wars will be over space shipping lanes.

      Nope. The next big wars will be fought over *water*, one of the most common substances on the planet.

    • I seriously doubt they had to ask permission per se, but the US gets a little bit jumpy when rockets fire up from places like Khazakistan. So, I suspect that this had more to do with, "Yo, US, we're launching this really big rocket in a bit, and it won't be an ICBM, so you don't need to nuke us."
  • Golf balls? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:05PM (#4201219) Homepage
    Maybe they can also pickup the golf balls left by Alan Shepard?

    dont have to..... take a look here [] or more specifically this [] animation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:05PM (#4201227)
    It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

    Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.

    Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

    Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.

    by 70%
  • Hmmmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by DCram ( 459805 )
    I bet this company was started years ago by the military in secret and now after all this time, when the dust has settled and the heat has let up, is going back to the studio to fake another landing. :)

    This time I bet ILM will put some really cool animals and critters on the moon. Maybe even some faces in the rocks and a giant underground mine with a real live arnold.

  • Why does this company need to get approval of the US Gov?
  • by deft ( 253558 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:07PM (#4201243) Homepage

    lander: we are now returning with alan sheperds balls.

    base: what was that? (chuckle)

    lander: i said were returning with alan shepards balls.

    base: hehe, sweet. did you use the retractable cup tool to scoop them up?

    lander: yes, we used the cup.

    base: would you say that your... hehehehehe, cupping alan shepards balls?

    lander: umm, yes, weve successfully cupped his balls.... do you guys hear laughing over the frequency cutting in?

    base: oh no, no laughing here. would you say your excited to be cupping....

    • Funny as hell !!!

      Thanks, you made my day ....
    • by Kamel Jockey ( 409856 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @03:31PM (#4201931) Homepage

      Who can forget the urban legend about Mr. Gorsky?

      When Apollo Mission Astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" statement but followed it by several remarks, usual com traffic between him, the other astronauts and Mission Control. Just before he re-entered the lander, however, he made the enigmatic remark "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."

      Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" statement meant, but Armstrong always just smiled.

      On July 5, 1995 (in Tampa Bay, FL) while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26 year old question to Armstrong. This time he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had finally died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question.

      When he was a kid, he was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit a fly ball which landed in the front of his neighbor's bedroom windows. His neighbors were Mr. & Mrs. Gorsky.

      As he leaned down to pick up the ball, young Armstrong heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky, "Oral sex! You want oral sex?! You'll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!"

      • Urban legend (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 05, 2002 @04:04PM (#4202148) []

        This legend, seemingly an obvious joke, began circulating on the Internet in mid-1995 and was picked up by the media a few months later. The inclusion of specific details (e.g., the name of Armstrong's neighbor, the date of the press conference on which he revealed the meaning of his remark) apparently led some to believe the farcical story might have some truth to it.

        At its most basic level, this tale is a humorous anecdote that plays on the stereotypical portrayal of Jewish wives as reluctant to engage in recreational sex (and especially oral sex). In variant forms of this legend the last name of Neil Armstrong's neighbor is different, but the name used is always a "Jewish-sounding" one, such as Gorsky, Seligman, Schultz, or Klein; the unusual word order employed by the wife in her refusal ("Oral sex you want?") is also a stereotypical speech pattern attributed to Jews. On another level, this legend can be seen as an attempt to humanize a cultural hero by associating him with a story that is both humorous and racy: Neil Armstrong, the world-famous astronaut, is made to seem like a "regular" guy.

        Any doubts about the veracity of this legend are laid to rest by the official NASA transcripts of the Apollo 11 mission, which record no such statement having been made by Armstrong. Armstrong himself said in late 1995 that he first heard the anecdote delivered as a joke by comedian Buddy Hackett in California.

  • by frohike ( 32045 ) <bard.allusion@net> on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:08PM (#4201256) Homepage
    Am I the only person disturbed by the idea that people will go to the moon and strip mine with abandon, and destroy its beauty from the perspective of people on Earth? I think something will never be the same about our little neighborhood of space when people look up and see lights all over the moon at night and they've dug up the man in the moon's face... ;)

    • Actually the largest strip mine imaginable would probably be dwarfed by an average sized crater.
      You won't be able to see it with the unaided eye.

      I'd rather see a dead rock get strip mined than a living planet. Although in reality it is so uneconomical to mine the moon that it won't happen in your lifetime or mine.
    • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:26PM (#4201433) Homepage
      There wouldn't be any strip mines. The moon doesn't appear to have layers of strata that require removal of the surface to access.

      The surface *is* the material we want: metallic oxides, rich in yummy aluminum, titanium, iron and O2.

      To mine it, you merely scoop it up into a truck.

      As for marring the beauty of the surface, the moon has none to speak of. It looks like Verdun after WW I.

      I'm all for preserving natural beauty on earth, and mining the moon for material would be great help in reducing mining on earth. As far as I'm concerned, the moon is a lovely resource.

      You could not see the activities on the moon from Earth anyway, not without a major scope. You'd never notice a thing.

      There's nothing ALIVE on the moon, so we should use it.

      I think life appearing on a dead world would spruce it up a bit.
      • To mine it, you merely scoop it up into a truck.

        and merly get there, and merely keep everone alive, and merelt get it back.

        We could always mine the side that faces away form us.

        however, how much can we mine before it begins to have a noticable effect on its mass? change the moon, and you change the earth.
    • Oh, they'll just nip and tuck a little around his eyes. Trust me dahling, he'll look 20 millenia younger.
    • > Am I the only person disturbed by the idea that people will go to the moon and strip mine with abandon, and destroy its beauty from the perspective of people on Earth?

      Unfortunately, no.

      > I think something will never be the same about our little neighborhood of space when people look up and see lights all over the moon at night and they've dug up the man in the moon's face... ;)

      I think something will never be the same about our little neighborhood of space when a wandering asteroid extinguishes the lights all over the Earth at night.

      I worry about people like you - who would have the only creatures that can make lights like that imprisoned and vulnerable on Earth, rather than busily making more lights on the Moon, Mars, or on near-Earth asteroids.

      If people like you carry the day, all of those lights will go out at the same time. And then, our little neighborhood of space won't be the same at all.

    • I'm fine with it if they only mine in the shape of a huge CHA. But it will probably end up being a Coca-Cola logo instead.
  • This won't change their minds. These people are never going to believe we landed on the moon. They'll just convince themselves that TansOrbital is a puppet company. I'm not even sure if they'd believe the whole deal if they went up themselves, took off their helmets and died from exposure to the vacuum and cold.
  • Well, I'm still somewhat skeptical that they'll actually be able to do it ... I'll believe it when it happens. But if they do manage it, I think that it's a good step forward. As the government doesn't seem to have much interest in getting us to space, we're going to have to rely on commercial ventures to do it for us.
  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:11PM (#4201294) Journal
    "Future plans by TransOrbital include the creation of a network of navigation beacons on the moon to help future lunar explorers and possibly ultra-secure data storage facilities."

    Don't these guys know anything about marketing!?! What they should have mentioned is building the first Wi-Fi network and WarShuttling.

  • Shooting off another space mission to take pictures of the landing site from the first space mission isn't going to convince skeptics, who are convinced that all these space missions are big left wing conspiracies. What they need to do is go up there and dust the moon with some colored powder or something.

    "Trlblzr wuz here! 02"

    That'll convince them.

    • who are convinced that all these space missions are big left wing conspiracies.

      Er...left wing???

      Its a right wing conspiracy! You think any left winger has controll of the militaro-industrial complex?! So a bunch of nazi scientist and US miltary types make a big show of their technical superiority, and you think it was all orchastrated by "save the whales" types?
    • Oh yeah, like this is going to please Greypeace!

      Ever seen a zodiac ram into rocket?
  • Yes, it's strange at first sight that you need a license, from the US government no less, to go to the moon. They don't even launch there, they launch from Kazakhstan, as the article says.

    But that also means this is a US company launching space craft from abroad. I would think a few permits are involved there - like in exporting it there in the first place. I don't know exactly what sort of technology export restrictions there currently are, but I think spacecraft will be covered.

    And of course they need a license from the guy who patented 'flying to the moon' as a business method...

  • Permission (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:20PM (#4201378) Homepage
    It's not so much a matter of getting permission, but to inform people of what's going on. MOST launches are at least announced, since especially in this day and age, you don't want to launch off rockets without informing anyone. Jittery governments who are in the dark might think its the start of a nuclear attack. This HAS happened in the past. We don't care that you launch rockets, we just want to make sure they're going into space and not somewhere else.

    Its also important that if something goes wrong with the spacecraft and all contact is lost, the craft (or debris from it) can be tracked by those who are most concerned about such things. A single screw in low earth orbit can cause major havoc if it impacts a spacecraft. You want to know where it is.

    The other issue is to insure compliance with any international treaties with regards to propulsion systems or use of celestial bodies for which someone at one point in time might have signed a treaty for. True, they could launch the rocket anyway, and probably nobody could do much about it. But there's no sense pissing anyone off if a yes answer is overwhelmingly probable anyway.

  • Riiiiight. (Score:5, Informative)

    by cjpez ( 148000 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:22PM (#4201392) Homepage Journal
    Okay, so let's see. We have the technology to digitally edit people out of video scenes in REALTIME. We have the technology to digitally add in elements to a video scene (I would assume in realtime). We have the technology to do damn near anything we want digitally, given enough time and servers, short of making fully-believable humans. And some pictures supposedly sent back from a satellite is going to convince someone who thinks they managed to fake the moon landings 30+ years ago that they were wrong? Riiiiight.
    • Okay, so let's see. We have the technology to digitally edit people out of video scenes in REALTIME. We have the technology to digitally add in elements to a video scene (I would assume in realtime).

      But what makes you think that the supposed proof of this digital editing technology isn't merely digitally edited in itself?
  • by garoush ( 111257 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:26PM (#4201427) Homepage
    ... the US government has granted permission to an undisclosed public company to verify that stories posted on /. are real.

    As an added bonus, this mission will weed out all duplicate submissions, spelling, grammars, etc. of the stories.

  • You will always have skeptics, just liek you will always have people who believe in UFO's. I've seen articles about how the mission was a hoax and they are quite convincing. If your going to teb moon bring a drilling rig, set up some experiments. Mount a teliscope, a big reflector dish anything. but dont go just to find some stupid golf balls.
  • by cardshark2001 ( 444650 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:30PM (#4201472)
    that was brought up in the fox documentary about the moon landing?

    For the most part, any first year physics student could counter the arguments in the documentary, which is why there were no real physicists on the show. The one that they had merely said something to the effect of "Yeah, there are a lot of crackpots out there".

    For example:
    1. The astronaut is climing down the lander, and is in shadow, yet his space suit is brightly lit, suggesting a studio lighting scenario.

    Answer: You may have noticed that the moon reflects light. This is why it allows us to see at night.

    2. The pictures are exceptionally clear, yet the astronauts were not trained photographers.

    Answer: any photograph taken in a vacuum will look more clear, due to less distortion from the atmosphere.

    3. There is a picture of the lander, and some rocks around it, then a picture of the "same scene" with no lander.

    Answer: Due to the lack of atmosphere on the moon, large boulders and even mountains may appear to look like close-up rocks when photographed.

    4. The lander just appears to "take off", with no acceleration.

    Answer: That's because it was a "catapult", you idiot, not a rocket. Escape velocity on the moon is tiny compared to earth, so a large enough explosion will do the trick.

    5. The flag appears to be "waving in the wind".

    Answer: only when the astronaut is touching it, you retard. When he lets go, it just sits there. I can make a flag wave too. Even with no wind. Imagine that.

    There were other, equally stupid pieces of "evidence", but there was ONE thing I could not explain.

    In some of the photos, the camera's crosshair is *partially behind* the scene. How is that possible unless the photos were airbrushed?
    • In some of the photos, the camera's crosshair is *partially behind* the scene. How is that possible unless the photos were airbrushed?

      Light refracts off a sharp edge (like a crosshair, fer instance) if there is enough light photon scattering can overload the film and cause the crosshair to appear white. I'm willing to bet that the areas the crosshair is "behind" are the brightest areas, aren't they?

    • "there was ONE thing I could not explain.
      In some of the photos, the camera's crosshair is *partially behind* the scene. How is that possible unless the photos were airbrushed?"

      Film is not perfect. Lenses are not perfect. Bright portions bleed into dark. When the dark portion is a very thin line like a crosshair, an adjacent light portion of the image will make the crosshair appear to be lighter, thinner, or just plain not there.

      Here's a good webpage about that and the other so-called "anomalies" you already debunked: []

    • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:47PM (#4201625)
      Point 1 is corret.

      Point 2 is only partially correct. The bigger part of the picture (pun intended) is that they took 35000 pictures of which only about 5000 are usually shown in books and websites. The rest were over/under exposed, blurred, boring, 2nd halves of stereo images etc. etc. They are not HIDDEN. You can still see them, for example on the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal or lots of other places. They are just more rare cause they.. well.. are not very good.

      Point 3 is correct and is quite well demonstrated in some pics where you see a crater that looks about 3 meters in diameter. And then you see the lunar rover next to it and you realize it's actually a 300 meter crater.

      Point 4, your explanation is wrong. It *IS* a rocket. However, the lunar gravity is only 1/6th of earth's so the acceleration is quite rapid.

      Point 5 is quite correct too..

      You also failed to mention / debunk some other more "convincing evidence". For example:

      In many pictures, shadows don't line up. Clearly, the pics were taken in a studio and there were many light sources. Well, if there were many light sources, there would be many shadows. Also, shadows don't line up on earth either. They just line up if the surfaces they are projected onto line up. So if you have a stone on a slope and an astronaut on even ground, their shadows won't be parallel.

      Another common one is that there was no crater below the lunar module from the descent rocket. Well, the gravity is 1/6th of earth's and there's no more thrust needed to keep the LM hovering just before landing than there is to keep a helicopter hovering on earth. If a chopper lands on a beach on earth, does it make a huge crater? Also keep in mind that there's no athmosphere on the moon so there's no "blowing" effect what so ever. Only the lunar dust that was DIRECTLY hit by the rocket blast would be affected - and it was. In every single landing (of which there are long 16mm films, by the way, clearly showing how it all happened) you can see dust "kicking up" from the rocket.

      Then there are totally bogus arguments like fake pictures showing "a third astronaut in the reflection of one astronaut's helmet" and stuff like that, which are just picture manipulations. If you bother at all, you can find the original picture (which in many cases is quite common and well known) and see the same picture without the Photoshop edited 3rd astronaut.
    • by doubtme ( 313660 ) <cgf.spam1@sy n t> on Thursday September 05, 2002 @04:54PM (#4202519) Homepage
      If you are actually trying to claim it's a hoax - I'm not sure - then think about the *difficulty* of pulling this off... what follows is quoted from another /. thread long ago. It covers most of the difficulties rather nicely I think.

      For the interest of Slashdot readers, national governments, and any other interested organization, I am posting instructions on how to fake a moon landing and not get caught for 30 years.

      Before the Landing

      Put out a request for tenders for a contract to build the lunar hardware to major aerospace companies. It would be pretty obvious after the fact that no one had built your launchers and landers.
      In the contracts, give a specification that would lead the 10,000 engineers who work on the project to reasonably believe that the equipment could be used to land on the moon. Engineers are smart people; they could easily spot holes in your assumptions if you make the requirements less stringent than they have to be. If it were obvious that the hardware couldn't land on the moon, you would be caught.
      Have the hardward manufactured and delivered. Again easy to spot if this wasn't done, especially for a Saturn V-class rocket and related assemblies.
      In summary: You would actually have to build stuff that would probably be able to land a man on the moon, with all the associated expenses.

      During the missions:

      You will actually have to launch the thing you contracted to build. You could launch something else -- but why bother? We've already established that you have to build a moon rocket, and you'd have to pay off everyone who was involved in its destruction and substitution. Besides, it would be big news, so news organizations would want to film the launch of the big rocket.
      So, the capsule could be suborbital, or stay in orbit, and the rest of the mission could be faked, right? Wrong. Antennas around the world will be tracking the radio signals from the capsule, including the continuous telemetry feeds. Something would have to go to the moon, on a realistic lunar trajectory, or this would be immediately spotted by legions of radio astronomers and HAM radio amateurs around the world, many of whom have advanced signal processing available to them (like Doppler analysis, etc.). They would also be able to tell the difference between a lunar trajectory and a different orbit, like a geosynchronous orbit, because of the moon's particular position in the sky.
      So, the capsule has to go to the moon. Does it have to orbit? Yes. The capsule must stay in the vicinity of the moon for several days (again checked by those with large radio antennas). The only foolproof way to do that is to orbit.
      So, the capsule has to orbit. Does it have to land? Yes. While in orbit, the capsule can't communicate with Earth from the far side of the moon. Yet a lander must be able to send continuous telemetry to the Earth. It would be pretty obvious fakery to have the "lander"'s telemetry fade out at the same time as the capsule's.
      Does it have to come back? Yes; for the same trajectory reason. The return trajectory could be tracked.
      Does the capsule/lander have to be manned? Not necessarily, but there would be many complications if it weren't. You would have to be able to carry on ground/capsule communications in a realistic manner even though the communications from the capsule would have to be recorded and beamed back (because your radio is being monitored). The "astronauts" would be unable to perform any diagnostic tasks aboard the spacecraft (because they're not aboard it), so the entire flight control team would have to be in on the hoax (dozens, even hundreds, of people to pay off).
      In summary: You would have to actually send something to the moon, which may as well be manned.

      After the Landing

      Bring back tons of "moon rocks" and other materials for analysis by independent scientists around the world. These rocks could not be obviously of terrestrial origin, implying some exotic materials science (or creative geology). Either that or pay off anyone who comes in contact with the "lunar samples".
      And if you're NASA - do this seven times, with one of the seven attempts turning into a remarkably realistic failure.

      The upshot: It's equally easy and expensive to actually land a man on the moon than fake it convincingly. Furthermore, the evidence for fakery would not be found in trivial forms of evidence, like photographs, but in more obvious places, like contracts, accounting, radio monitoring, and the lunar samples themselves.
  • I take it this mission is being sponsored by Paul Allen to promote his basketball team? Is that what they mean by "commercial"... an event sponsored just for advertising?

    An an unrelated topic, who else would like to see them send Lance Bass into space, and NOT BRING HIM BACK?

  • by jmoriarty ( 179788 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @02:39PM (#4201549)
    Personally, I'd like to see the Apollo landing site declared an International Historical Site. As the man said, it was a giant leap for all of mankind, and I'd like to see it preserved as-is.

    Yes, I know this mission is just going to take pictures, but sooner or later someone (Chinese? Bill Gates?) is going to once again land on the moon, and could casually destroy a significant part of mankind's history.
  • and Kevin Bacon be on this flight, too? Tom was so heroic last time he went. I hope he has better luck this time..'
  • I mean if I believed in the flat earth it's all a conspiracy of the gubmint, the masons, the illuminati-bilberg group-zog theories then I would have to assume that this is a hoax too!! It stands to reason you can't reason your way over paranoia.
  • by Cirrocco ( 466158 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @03:24PM (#4201884) Homepage
    The surviving family of Jackie Gleason is suing for patent infringement.

    They claim that Jackie Gleason held the intellectual property for going to the moon some 15 years prior to the 1969 lunar landing. "To the moon, Alice!" is the phrase being used as proof that the business model was originally Gleason's.

    TransOrbital could not be reached for comment due to a massive Slashdot effect, but expects that their poor webservers will be replaced sometime next week after being /.'d into slag.

    "Our ancestor, The Great One, would have wanted us to protect his intellectual property," one of the relatives was quoted as saying.
  • by WhiplashII ( 542766 ) on Thursday September 05, 2002 @04:36PM (#4202398) Homepage Journal
    for final proof of the moon landings, visit oLaser.html. [] Apollo 11 left a mirror up there so that we could use a laser rangefinder to calculate the distance to the moon. It's still there - and it still is working. You can remove your tin foil hat now...
  • by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) <mark.seventhcycle@net> on Thursday September 05, 2002 @07:05PM (#4203408) Homepage
    Maybe it's me... But wouldn't any company that has to get licensed by a government to confirm that the government isn't lying.... is really controlled by the government?

    I'd be happier if Carmack and Co could check for us.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.