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Monday, February 18th, 2008

Moon landing hoax addressed

By William Kincaid

A visitor at the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum on Saturday looks at one of t. . .

WAPAKONETA - John Zwez, retired manager of the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum, says there have always been nonbelievers or conspiracy theorists of the moon landing.
In fact, when Zwez started at the museum in 1972, members from a British organization called the Flat Earth Society tried to convince him that the earth was flat.
"After a half hour of talking to them I realized they were going to believe what they wanted to believe," Zwez told a large crowd at the museum's amphitheater on Saturday afternoon while presenting "Moon Hoax: An Ongoing Conspiracy."
Back in his early days, Zwez said 99.9 percent of people believed that the U.S. went to the moon. But since the 2001 airing of a moon conspiracy program on the Fox network, Zwez said an increasing member of young Americas doubt that man ever stepped foot on Earth's gray satellite.
Zwez, who retired in 2004 after 32 years at the museum, also attributes the mass incredulity to distrust in the U.S. government.
During his Saturday presentation, Zwez - who immediately said he believes the U.S. did land on the moon - discredited many conspiracy theorists' accusations and stated they are often extreme in their convictions.
Zwez dispelled the Van Allan Radiation Belt theory. Some say the radiation belt in which astronauts had to travel through while going to the moon was too strong for anyone to live through.
"Yes, they were indeed exposed to some radiation," said Zwez, who has talked with NASA officials, Neil Armstrong and scientists about the topic.
He quickly pointed out the level of radiation exposure was not dangerous - it is only equivalent to five or six X-rays on earth, he said.
Zwez said other people claim the space computer equipment was too primitive to bring humans to the moon. However, he said the equipment in question was designed only to guide the spacecraft, not make a phone call or make a picture, as a simple cell phone can do today.
Those who believe the space vessel should have made a large crater on the moon upon arrival do not know how extremely hard the surface really is, Zwez said.
Also, many nonbelievers, who think the moon landings were made in a studio in Hollywood or as some believe, Area 51, wonder why there were no stars in the photos taken on the moon. Zwez said because the surface was so bright, the astronauts had to adjust their cameras, resulting in no star images.
Zwez continued to defend a slew of accusations, including the belief that a Hollywood prop can be identified in one of the pictures, before providing what he believes is strong evidence for the moon landing.
On various moon missions, Zwez said laser reflectors were left on the moon, from which researchers to this day continue to reflect laser points off, which then return to the earth.
He also said the moon rocks - which have often been dubbed phony - contain no water whatsoever, while terrestrial rocks do.
And, of all of the 200,000 contractors and government officials involved in the moon landings, nobody - even those on their death bed - has come forward with any hoax information.
"This simply is not going to happen," Zwez said.
Also, as the U.S. was in a heated battle with the Soviets during the space race to put a man on the moon, each side had many spies. Zwez said the former USSR knew exactly what the U.S. was doing, as well as why and when. If the USSR knew it was a hoax, Zwez said they would have called the U.S. out.
Zwez said he is also saddened in how extreme in their convictions some nonbelievers can be. From claims that NASA murdered its own crew on the Challenger mission to a man who told Zwez he would bet his own son's life that no one has ever landed on the moon, he said he has heard some terrible stories.
But Zwez also believes that people are simply just curious - whether about the assassination of JFK or an apparent alien autopsy.
Additional online story on this date
LAFAYETTE - The top two seeds at the Division II Allen East Sectional got major scares on Saturday night, but both came away victorious.
St. Marys started the evening by shaking off a slow start and a 12-point deficit before rallying for a 35-32 win over Shawnee. [More]
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