An editorial by Clyde Lewis

Some still remember the significant event that happened on December 7th, 1972. If you donít then obviously NASA has a problem. The idea that the moon landing hoax theory is gaining ground demonstrates that NASA has a problem. The fact that NASA is becoming a relic also demonstrates that they have a major problem. NASA will be approaching its half-century milestone in seven years and so far there is no adventure in the final frontier.

When Apollo 17 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 7, 1972, no one could have imagined that on itís 30th anniversary, in the 21st century it would remain the last manned lunar mission.

It is hard to believe that in 30 years the last men on the moon are still Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt and Eugne A. Cernan.

Apollo 17 was one of the more magical and thougtful missions and it was one where I thought that the Astronauts reacted like children with a new toy. Something that I thought was lost in the first moon mission.

I remember many things like the stumbling in zero gravity, the description of the dust looking like diamonds, and Schmitt indulging in a little graffiti where he etched the initials of his daughter Tracy in the moon dust.

The last man to leave a dusty footprint on the moon was Cernan.

"When I started walking up that ladder I realized - hey this is it. Somewhat of a nostalgic moment. You looked around - I looked back at the earth and realized I'm never going to be here again. Somebody will, but I'm not. And I wanted to sort of leave a challenge for that - for those who would follow. And I wasn't sure what I was going to say until I said it, quite frankly. And I wanted it to have our challenge - the challenge of Apollo - sort of have something to do with the destiny of those who follow. Here's the challenge - the door's open. The door is cracked. You now have the opportunity to go on from here. And my exact words - "we now leave as we once came, and God willing is we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind. And may America's challenge of today. Forge man's destiny of tomorrow."
ĖAstronaut Eugene Cernan

It was a heartfelt moment and quite an achievement for The United States, NASA, and planet Earth.

It was a small step, a giant leap and in the words of the last Astronaut a feat that would forge manís destiny for a bright tomorrow.

This trip seemed so different. It had a different flavor. Not because it was routine but it seemed that in 1969 the words were carefully chosen. In the final trip it was an emotional goodbye and at the time the earth was hoping that it would not be a long one.

I have to wonder when we made that giant leap, what was it exactly that we are leaping toward?

When I was a kid that giant leap was supposed to be the first of many more giant leaps. When we were kids we drew pictures of Astronauts in a crayon and pencil universe. We all wanted to be astronauts some day and many of us suspected that families and friends would not only live across town, but across the galaxy.

Decades have passed and the moon has become a forgotten event and there are many people who do not recall or even care about an event that seems like an elaborate political game of "made ya look."

On February 15th, 2001 the Fox network aired the now infamous "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon" television special. Much to the dismay of scientists and others who hold the Moon landing sacred, some 15 million viewers witnessed circumstantial evidence that purported to show that the moon landing of 1969 was all faked in a sound studio at some secret location on planet earth.

The show generated so much buzz that Fox aired it again in March of the same year.

The show also sparked inquiries about copies of the show as many people were interested in the allegations. Many talk shows were also asking questions about the television show and immediately I was bombarded with e-mails and insults because of an article that I wrote in 1999 speculating on the possibility that the moon landing was faked.

I received the information about the Fox special from a friend in Los Angeles who worked at Fox. He was telling me that perhaps I should immediately open up the discussion about it and start the debate early.

He told me about a website called Bad Astronomy and a guy named Phil Plait who tackled the hoax theories.

I saw this as an opportunity to finally bring the debate to the table.

I felt that the article was the catalyst for discussion and actually recommended that before you believe what I write go to bad astronomy and read what Plait had to say.

It was done as a serious look into balance and hopefully there would be a discussion about the moon landing.

It did not happen that way and now I am writing this editorial response to all of the e-mails that I receive from irate individuals who think that I am a crusader for the Moon Hoax theories.

I canít hold back any longer and what I am about to write will be unpopular and at this point I donít care anymore. The e-mails that have been sent to me talk down to me as if I am some dullard for even bringing up the theory in the first place.

I know that I am now about to open a floodgate of harsh criticism for what I am about to write, however I truly believe it needs to be said.

After over 40 years of its existence it seems to me that NASA is turning into a relic. I am in no way diminishing their accomplishments I am merely pointing out that from what I can see NASA is in a world of hurt and they are doing nothing to keep those leaps for mankind leaping.

I know that most of the NASA faithful are going to run and whine and then claim that some moron who has written "moon landing hoax" theories is spouting some nonsense but that is the point.

If those who believe in a moon landing hoax are sending NASA into fits then perhaps there are problems at NASA that are a lot deeper than we realize.

I am seeing something very weird here and I hope that believers in a moon hoax and non believers alike are noticing.

Doesnít anyone find it odd that a "conspiracy theory" that NASA and its faithful call ludicrous is causing so much derision and argument?

In my opinion the derision is not because of some sort of miscommunication, ignorance, or even failure of teachers to teach students about the moon landing.

The problem here is simple.

NASA is suffering a midlife crisis and someone has taken a sticky point and made an ugly rumor that when NASA was younger didnít matter, but now after over 40 years is beginning to take personally.

When NASA was young it put men on the moon. It was invincible and had that rogue sense of adventure that made young boys think that they could walk on the moon. It gave dreamers the ability to think themselves in dome cities, outposts, and space stations training in zero gravity for the big trip to Mars.

Now reality has set in and a younger more cynical generation has struck a blow to its self-esteem.

They donít want to hear about what was, they want to hear about what is and what is, is nowhere near what was.

The main focus of NASA is their International Space Station.

NASA may try and beam about their accomplishment however the grim reality is that we have been there and we have done that.

I know it is uncomfortable to hear but it needs to be said.

Why?

Because there are people who believe we didnít land on the moon. Of course by default I have become a non-believer too. But I need to confess that I am a non-believer in todayís NASA. I lived in the glow of a young, vibrant, and adventurous NASA where the sky was not the limit.

Where mankind definitely set foot on the moon.

On a hunch it seems that the younger crowds donít care about the moon and others question the validity of the moon landing. Some teachers fail to make the moon landing an event in the classroom because it has been out of sight and out of mind for so long.

So why is it that people question the moon landing and television networks attempt to expose NASA as a fraud?

The smug scientists will say "Obviously they are ignorant." or "they lack the knowledge to understand physics" or "The media has lowered itself to yellow and irresponsible journalism."

Though one argument may be correct and others may be partially true I have decided to submit another reason why.

The reason people question the moon landing is because a conspiracy theory against the landing captures the imagination more than the reality today. Because NASA has lost its grip on capturing the imagination of those who it is supposed to serve.

NASAís space station lacks imagination and adventure.

So does a space shuttle.

In the 1960ís NASA proved that sky wasnít the limit anymore.

In the 21st century we are limited to a space station with celestial cost overruns that total into the billions.

Where is the compelling vision of astronauts going to and from a space station that does nothing but hover over an earth where a small percentile are beginning to question the validity of one of the most compelling events in history?

NASA is not chasing aliens. They are not trying to terra-form Mars. They arenít recruiting high school kids to go on shuttle missions. They are not sparking the imagination of the American people.

They merely blast off and travel to a space station hovering 250 miles up.

They have gone from giant leaps to baby steps in 30 years.

NASA has not taken risks. They could go back to the moon, but I keep hearing from the smug ones that it is not in the interest of science. I keep hearing that there is nothing more on the moon that needs to be discovered.

So am I to believe that NASA doesnít do gimmicky shuttle missions? John Glenn going up in space had this guise of being something about a scientific analysis of aging in space.

No gimmick here. At least not one that they will admit to.

Not that he was an old man who could still kick ass in zero gravity.

Wow. Cool. Neato. Yawn.

Now NASA is planning on sending Barbara Morgan into space. She is a teacher that will carry on the educational mission that was originally planned for Christa McAuliffe who tragically died when the Challenger Space shuttle exploded in mid air back in 1986.

I can only predict that this will be bad timing.

I get so tired of hearing about how NASA is solely interested in science these days. These little gimmicky missions have to have some alleged "philanthropic" purpose here or there.

I see school projects being sent into space, wouldnít it capture the imagination of the people if the science fair projects were accompanied by their youthful creators?

There were a few people who actually were very happy to see Dennis Tito take a romp in the International Space station. Of course Tito was maligned by NASA chief Dan Goldin as being a security and safety risk.

Goldin, quipped that it would be a cold day in hell before NASA ever allowed a space tourist on the space station.

But it was NASA who thought it would be gimmicky and fun to send Christa McAuliffe up into space and everywhere else her body parts went.

It was Goldin who just loved to ingratiate himself to movie director James Cameron who can afford the ticket just like Tito. The only difference is that Cameron promised to wait until he could be trained in the American space program and not the Russian program.

It seems the Russian American dick-waving contest didnít die in 1969. America still thinks that for some reason they own space. Tito made a mistake by not waiting and training with those horrible Russians.

Tito made it on board but with the condition that if he broke anything or diminished morale that he had to pay extra.

It was fun to see a man with a big smile floating in space and he looked as if he worked and played well with the other astronauts.

However an Icy reception from American Astronauts spoke volumes.

Later a self-made scientist named Mark Shuttleworth somehow avoided the icy entourage. However Shuttleworth trained at Houstonís Johnson center and not in Russia. Tito only approached the Soviet Union after NASA rejected his application, turned down his money and refused to train him.

I donít even want to talk about Lance Bass.

At the time Tito was up there with Osama Bin Laden as being a troublemaker.

Obviously the hatred to Tito was fueled by NASAís whining that he would just get in the way of the important procedures being carried out there.

What important procedures?

Planning a Mars Mission?

Not likely.

Discussing the grounding of the X-33 shuttle?

How about the 4 billion-dollar cost overrun of the Space station Program?

NASA and all of itís faithful seem to be throwing stones at glass houses.

Questioning a moon landing is small potatoes compared to investigating the money that is wasted on a program that fails to capture the imagination of the people on the earth.

Long term goals for space travel are seldom heard, and routine trips to the party pad in space are getting a little old.

Individual astronauts arenít even known by the general public . Their missions are sanitized and boring. In my opinion the astronauts seem to be no different than dry wallers going up and installing sheet rock in a 30 billion dollar office building.

When Bill Shepherd made a diary of the events taking place with the first crew of the space station NASA stopped the diary. They removed it from public view trivializing what could have been a major event.

The shuttle is nothing more than a bus going to and from the bus terminal.

Instead of opening itís eyes to the infinite future like before they NASA just goes around in circles with an occasional park in the garage.

When the moon landing happened there were hopes that settlers would follow.

The Astronauts were like the pioneers or Lewis and Clark.

Now in the 21st century the explorers have lost their desire for exploration.

They have lost their desire for improvement. The way things seem to be falling into place another shuttle accident is inevitable.

This would set back NASA even further than it already is. The reason is because there is no viable replacement for the shuttle.

About one and a quarter billion went into the X-33 space plane and that was shelved.

As you can see a Moon hoax rumor was probably one more public relations stick in the eye that NASA didnít need.

This is probably why NASA had attempted to put together an educational aid for teachers and others who wanted to counter the doubters of the moon landing.

But Ďlo and behold NASA drops their decision sending Conspiracy theorists to their blogger saying that it only supports the claim the moon landing was hoaxed.

James Oberg, a former NASA aerospace engineer had been chosen by NASA to write a book to set the record straight.

The huffing and puffing by egotistical Science elders means nothing to tax payers and the cynical fringe that think that NASA and all of itís sycophants are defending a dead horse.

It has nothing to do with the Conspiracy theorists or even the doubters.

Most Conspiracy theorists share a bit of ground with the UFO believers and also share an interest in space. They have an emotional investment in space research. Most defenders of NASA paint them all with that lunatic brush.

However it needs to be said that even though there are those that question and there are those that doubt there are many who will agree that space research is an important national investment.

They want to know about cities on Mars, Faces in Martian soil, and Planet X. They want to know if there is life out there. They want to dream. They want to imagine.

To hear the mensa science defenders of NASA speak it gets in the way of "logic" and "science."

Well we forget that it was imagination that fueled the idea of a space program in the first place.

There needs to be funding to go into the research and mapping of near earth objects and there also should be other planets explored so that we can be sure that these celestial neighbors could provide refuge in case the planet has a cataclysmic event that renders it incapable of sustaining life.

It is time to demand that taxpayers get the science they are paying for. It is time to get the imagination fired up again like a Saturn V rocket.

I am tired of footing the bill for NASA's mismanagement and lack of vision, and I am also tired of whining individuals who keep insulting and belittling those who are beginning to question the trust of a group appointed to act in the public trust. I also grow tired of those who dismiss those who dare to imagine, theorize, and see faces in the sands of Mars.

Even if we awoke tomorrow and found out that the moon shot of 1969 was bogus there would be absolutely nothing we could do about it. To make it a crusade for "truth"is pointless. To Stalk astronauts and harass them is also equally insipid.

I have not started a cottage industry, I am not looking for believers in a moon hoax, and I certainly do not diminish or disrespect the past accomplishments of NASA. After 1986 however NASA has shown that it is a waste of taxpayer money and they have lived up to their reputation as being a mismanaged waste of space.

Their supporters are annoyed and hurt that a very miniscule group of people have once again stepped forward and demanded accountability for something that many people have taken for granted.

I say thank God.

Challenging the moon landing has started the dialogue about the importance of a true moon landing, a victorious leap of discovery and a legacy that in the 21st century has been forgotten about.

In the newsroom I filed a report on the Apollo 17 mission and I recorded the last words from the moon and I started to get angry. I stopped writing the story and emphasized that 30 years later we are only playing in the near frontier. I paused again and wrote a more respectful story. Only because I had to, not that I wanted to.

I rushed to my computer and wrote this because I couldnít help but wonder if NASA is lost in space.


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