Does anyone know what goes on up there?
Did Man go to the Moon? It’s a contentious issue, considering how ridiculous the question might first appear. Despite the heaps of evidence available to us from NASA personnel, TV archives and museums (not to mention physically returned moon rocks), there is still a grumbling doubt that the whole thing might just have been made up. The movie ‘Capricorn One’, where fictitious American astronauts were removed from their rocket and driven to a film set in the desert to record their Moon landing, has a deep and lasting resonance with me. It could have been faked, even if the Apollo astronauts really did actually walk on the surface of the Moon.
Such doubt is compunded by the news this week that China’s official news agency Xinhua published a long and detailed account of the spaceflight of Chinese astronauts, including dialogue, while the Shenzhou VII rocket was still sat on the launchpad!
“First-level measurement arrangement! After this order, signal lights all were switched on, various data show up on row of screens, hundreds of technicians staring at the screens, without missing any slightest changes…one minute to go! Changjiang No 1 found the target!”
Of course, this might have been the work of an over-enthusiastic State journalist, whose copy needed to read and re-read by the Patriarchs who run China before release to the joyous masses. Time may have been the feature here, rather than a deliberate effort to deceive. After all, in the absence of a free press, Communist editing is a time-consuming business.
But it highlights a deeper issue. How do any of us actually know what goes on in space? Only from what we’re told, through official space agencies. They control the news, and so can control the truth.
Spacecraft and satellites can be tracked by amateurs, whose telescopic equipment is often highly advanced. But the fact that a spacecraft is heading to the Moon might not necessarily mean that anyone’s actually on board. The same applies to spacecraft orbiting the Earth.
We can’t be absolutely sure of anything that goes on up there, unless we go up there ourselves, like space tourists (a few of whom have now made the trip courtesy of the money-hungry Russian space agency). It is only when ordinary folk make the trip to space that this new frontier can be said to be completely open, and transparent.