Author Topic: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?  (Read 4321 times)

Offline Cat Not Included

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How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« on: June 25, 2015, 11:47:50 AM »
Let's say that some group were to, as a purely hypothetical example, say they were going to do reality show about launching a one-way mission to, oh, say, Mars. And let's just for example's sake say that they started to sound like they were really just a scam. (Well, OK, "started" to sound like a scam happened back around the words "reality show").

But let's say they go through with it and claim to be launching a ship to Mars and are setting up video broadcasts showing all the drama going on with the crew of the Minnow bold expedition.

How would we know its not real? Funnily enough, I assume the best people at explaining why the Apollo missions WERE real would also be some of the best to explain why our totally hypothetical Mars mission wasn't!

I know very little on the topic, but some things that come to my mind (please let me know if I'm wrong on these!):
  • The launch: Launching a spacecraft is a very big, visible deal. At least thousands of people would likely see it in person, and it could be detected in a variety of ways. Its conceivably possible they could launch something else as a fake, but that would be an incredibly expensive thing to do for a bluff, and it would still have to go somewhere.
  • The flight: I'm guessing there are a variety of ways that a spacecraft would be tracked from Earth, and it would be readily noticeable if there wasn't a ship to track, or it just went into an Earth orbit. (Can we actually see a vehicle leaving the Earth via telescope? I wouldn't think so, but I may be underestimating our telescopes)
  • Transmissions: The ship is going to be sending transmissions back to Earth. Other receivers will be able to pick up the transmissions...if they are there to pick up.
  • Special Effect Failures: Hollywood hasn't managed to sustain completely realistic zero-g effects for the length of a two hour movie. Hair will likely be a big giveaway.

Other thoughts? How would things go from the other end of debunking?

I'm strangely disappointed that I don't think we'll see this happen. I mean, I didn't ever think Mars One was likely to be real, but in my naiveté I assumed they would actually do a "reality" show and fake a trip to Mars. That it seems most likely instead to just be a scam to get money from the would-be-volunteers is depressingly...what's a good word...mundane? Banal?

(First post here - gulp - hope it goes well!)
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Offline gillianren

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2015, 12:29:11 PM »
All of those are good points.  Can't think of any others off the top of my head, but I'm not fully awake yet.  Insomnia and a toddler are a terrible combination.

And welcome!
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2015, 02:11:19 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Cat Not Included.

One of the major hurtles to a fake mission is the fact that the rocket builder would have to build a real ship.  One designed with the necessary thrust to lift off an propel the crew to Mars.  If it wasn't sufficient for the job, that information would be public because you can't hide physics from people that play with slide rules, or the contemporary equivalent, for fun.
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Offline Zakalwe

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2015, 04:21:38 PM »
Cue the Mitchell and Webb sketch.....
Smart guys n gals would soon work out the acellertion of the booster.and call out if it was hooky. Plus there's tens of thousands of amateur astronomers with some very sophisticated kit that would track it into orbit and out. To fake it you'd have to build something so close to what's required that you might as well go there.....
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Offline darren r

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2015, 05:26:03 PM »
I know it's not quite the same thing, in that only the participants were meant to be unaware of the hoax and not the audience, but Channel 4 in the UK did something like this in 2005 ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Cadets_(TV_series)
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Offline Grashtel

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2015, 02:06:29 AM »
I know it's not quite the same thing, in that only the participants were meant to be unaware of the hoax and not the audience, but Channel 4 in the UK did something like this in 2005 ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Cadets_(TV_series)
You need to use URL tags around stuff that ends in characters other than letters or numbers or the end gets cut off, eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Cadets_(TV_series) is a working link but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Cadets_(TV_series) is broken
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Offline Tedward

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2015, 02:53:27 AM »
Remember not watching that show.

Offline smartcooky

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2015, 06:24:19 AM »
  • Special Effect Failures: Hollywood hasn't managed to sustain completely realistic zero-g effects for the length of a two hour movie. Hair will likely be a big giveaway.

Well, Ron Howard did a pretty good job with the movie Apollo 13. Mind you, he used state-of-the-art (of that time) CGI and actually built the set for the interiors of the CM and the LM inside the fuselage of a vomit comet, and then shot short sequences in real weightlessness. 
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Offline Kiwi

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2015, 08:00:10 AM »
Well, Ron Howard did a pretty good job with the movie Apollo 13. Mind you, he used state-of-the-art (of that time) CGI and actually built the set for the interiors of the CM and the LM inside the fuselage of a vomit comet, and then shot short sequences in real weightlessness.

Yes, went to great lengths for realism at times, including generating the dark plume from the Saturn V exhaust, but stuffed up its launch countdown by starting engine ignition at zero instead of at 8.9 seconds to go, with liftoff at zero. And they did it again in From the Earth to the Moon.

Having Swigert and Haise view Tsiolkovsky crater on the back of the moon, and their landing site on the front mere seconds later, was another, but more minor, stuff-up. And in From the Earth to the Moon they had trouble preventing lunar dust billowing,

Errors I noticed in the Apollo 11 episode in From the Earth to the Moon, Part Six, Mare Tranquillitatis (times are from the DVD):

0:05:39   Error:  Ignition sequence starts on zero.
0:39:20   Error:  The lunar surface at the top of the screen, Mare Fecunditatis, where the sun is higher, should be brightly lit.
0:39:23   Error:  Sunlight is coming from the right of the screen instead of the top, behind the LM.
0:39:23   Error:  Mount Marilyn, 1.5 degrees north, 40 degrees east, should be visible below.
0:42:15   Error:  The lunar surface is much too hilly.
0:43:57   Error:  West Crater again — by now the LM should be above East Crater.
0:44:40   Error:  Dust billowing up from the surface.
0:44:53   Error:  Footpad and billowing dust.
0:45:04   Error:  Engine shutdown before touchdown.  Eagle touched down gently with the engine still running.
0:46:22   Error:  LM on the surface from above.  Craters are wrong — the one at left rear should be two at left front.
0:51:08   Error:  Charlie Duke is shown as Capcom — the Capcom at this time was Bruce McCandless.
0:51:52   Error:  THE MOST GRIEVOUS OF ALL: Neil Armstrong places his foot on an existing boot print.
0:52:35   Error:  Earth is shown too big and too low in the lunar sky.
0:52:51   Error:  Neil Armstrong is on the right side of the LM and doesn't have the camera.  He should be at the left front taking photos of Buzz Aldrin.
0:53:06   Error:  There is a large hill in the background which wasn't there in reality.

Laypersons wouldn't notice those, but generally, both movie Apollo 13 and TV series From the Earth to the Moon were much better-done than many others.

Back to the point of the thread, this shows that Hollywood with all its resources and talent still has trouble producing a totally convincing duplication of space reality, at least from the point of view of those who know.

Excellent thread and post, Cat Not Included, and welcome to ApolloHoax. Hopefully there will be many good points made.

Nearly everyone who knows a fair bit about the moonlandings has said that it was easier and cheaper to go there than try to hoax it.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 08:33:40 AM by Kiwi »
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Offline Kiwi

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2015, 08:50:05 AM »
Can we actually see a vehicle leaving the Earth via telescope? I wouldn't think so, but I may be underestimating our telescopes

Yes, at least in professional telescopes in the 1960s and 70s:
http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/space/apollo.html

And National Geographic, Volume 135, No. 5, May 1969, pages 610-611, has a photo taken during the Apollo 8 mission.

The caption says: "Extraordinary photograph made by a tracking camera in Spain shows the 600-mile-wide cloud created by the rocket when it dumped liquid oxygen. Now, half an hour later at a height of 26,000 miles, the S-IVB spews a smaller double cloud as it vents excess liquid hydrogen. The speck above and to the right of the rocket is the spacecraft."

The credit reads: "The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, San Fernando, Spain."

There are a lot of stars in the photo which may aid in locating the craft.

The photo is approximately 21cm wide x 12 cm high. The large oxygen cloud takes up only a small amount of the total area, is shaped like a side-on view of a fairly flat mushroom with a very thin stem, and is approximately 2 x 5 cm.

The much smaller hydrogen cloud is about .5 x 2 cm.

Don't criticize what you can't understand. — Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (1963)
Some people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices and superstitions. — Edward R. Murrow (1908–65)

Offline Zakalwe

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2015, 09:16:29 AM »
Can we actually see a vehicle leaving the Earth via telescope? I wouldn't think so, but I may be underestimating our telescopes

Yes, at least in professional telescopes in the 1960s and 70s:
http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/space/apollo.html

And National Geographic, Volume 135, No. 5, May 1969, pages 610-611, has a photo taken during the Apollo 8 mission.

The caption says: "Extraordinary photograph made by a tracking camera in Spain shows the 600-mile-wide cloud created by the rocket when it dumped liquid oxygen. Now, half an hour later at a height of 26,000 miles, the S-IVB spews a smaller double cloud as it vents excess liquid hydrogen. The speck above and to the right of the rocket is the spacecraft."


I was searching to that reference as it also says "several amateur astronomers in the UK photographed a fuel dump from the expended S-IVB stage shortly after 18:00 UT on December 21, 1968. This event was seen, without prior notification, by F. Kent, Alan Heath, and M.J. Oates, who reports catching the cloud visually while getting off a bus. H.R. Hatfield made several tracking photographs. The accompanying photograph is by M.J. Hendrie. "At Colchester, England, M.J. Hendrie took a three-minute exposure beginning at 18:16 Universal time on december 21, showing blowout of excess fuel from the third stage."

Modern tracking mounts, linked to PC controlled planetarium software can easily track celestial objects. I have seen images of the ISS supply craft captured with ordinary DSLRs. Even exoplanets can be detected with amazingly simple equipment:



This is where the whole hoax "debate" falls apart. There are simply too many ways for the event to be verified, by too many disparate and independent methods. The fact that the Apollo historical canon has never been shown to have any errors is indisputable proof that it took place as described. Indeed, modern analysis have found things in the records that were undetected at the time (for example the cloud formations).

Bill Clinton, possibly the most powerful man on the planet at the time, couldn't keep it quiet that he was getting frisky with an intern and there were only two people involved. Its ridiculous to imagine that a decade-long program, involving hundreds of thousands of people, could be kept secret.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 10:54:05 AM by Zakalwe »
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Offline Cat Not Included

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2015, 10:43:53 AM »
Thanks for all the welcomes and awesome answers!

Wow, I've learned at least 4 new things already.   ;D

Though, Kind of want to convince myself that 'Space Cadets' wasn't real - its hard to believe people would actually fall for that. Though, I'd be willing to be duped to get to ride in a realistic simulation of a spacecraft. :p

If Mars One had gone for trying to claim they really were sending a mission while not doing so, I wonder what position the Apollo Hoaxers would take on it.

Would they also claim Mars One was a  hoax, but not be influenced by how the strongest evidence for it being a hoax totally doesn't apply to Apollo?

Would they claim it was a hoax, but be busy saying things like "Because of the non-parallel shadows in the crew portrait" and ignoring things like "Why hasn't anyone seen a 16 story tall 3000 ton spacecraft taking off?"

Or would they say "Oh, its not the government, its totally real!"

Probably a mix of all three.
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Offline ka9q

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2015, 07:27:03 PM »
Well, Ron Howard did a pretty good job with the movie Apollo 13. Mind you, he used state-of-the-art (of that time) CGI and actually built the set for the interiors of the CM and the LM inside the fuselage of a vomit comet, and then shot short sequences in real weightlessness.
Yes, as far as I know this was the first time real weightlessness had been used in a Hollywood movie, but it still had plenty of giveaways. For starters, shots were never more than a few seconds, hiding the fact that the maximum period of weightlessness in an airplane is about 20 seconds. People probably didn't notice this because they're so used to short takes in almost all movie production. People still marvel about uninterrupted takes in movies like Touch of Evil and Goodfellas that were only a few minutes long. And "takes" in real space often last for hours.

The other thing is that even on the "vomit comet" the zero-G wasn't totally convincing. The plane does not exactly follow a parabolic trajectory, so we see floating objects move in a very decidedly non-inertial way. Even if the plane did follow a perfect parabola, true zero-G would occur only at the point around which the plane is pitching to control its angle of attack.

Offline gillianren

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Re: How would we spot an actual hoax launch?
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2015, 09:45:50 PM »
Side note--the shot in Touch of Evil may only be "a few minutes long," but it's a very busy few minutes.  Still, if you want impressive, see Russian Ark.  It's extremely busy, one shot, and ninety minutes long, which was about the limit of the technology at the time.  Which is another thing--any "take" that's more than about twenty minutes long from that era has to have been recorded with an alternate system of some sort, because cameras simply didn't hold enough film.  It's part of why Rope has any cuts at all.
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