Fig. 1 - Apollo 16 commander John Young adds a twist
to the standard Apollo practice of saluting the flag. He
jumps in the diminished lunar gravity, saluting at the peak
of his leap. Charlie Duke took two such photos. (NASA:
The astronaut in Fig. 1
isn't casting a shadow.
Many people don't realize that Young is at the top of his leap in
this shot, and in the other one Charlie Duke took. His shadow is not
directly adjacent to his feet as it would be if he were standing
directly on the lunar surface. Instead it is below him and to the
The flag shouldn't be
waving without an atmosphere.
See here for a complete discussion
of the apparent motion of the flag.
The wrinkles and folds in the flag are from its tight packing
during the voyage, not because the air is blowing it. Fig. 2 is the
flag from the picture Young took of Charlie Duke's salute a few
seconds later. You can see that it's almost identical to the one in
the photo above, but photographed from a slightly different angle.
Fig. 2 - John Young took this photo of the flag a few
seconds after Fig. 1 (NASA: detail of AS16-113-18342)
If the flag were waving in the breeze we'd expect it to billow
differently in photographs taken seconds or minutes apart. Instead
the folds don't change between photographs. The flag is obviously
stationary, but wrinkled.
The object behind the
astronaut is in shadow, yet we see it clearly lit.
The object behind John Young's right leg is the Schmidt camera
(essentially an all-reflector telescope using photographic film
instead of an eyepiece) used for ultraviolet astronomy photographs.
The lunar surface is the ideal place from which to make ultraviolet
observations because the lack of atmosphere affords an unfiltered view
of the universe. The slow lunar rotation allows long exposures
without requiring tracking equipment.
A backup camera is on display at the Johnson Space Flight Center.
Fig. 3 - Apollo 16's Schmidt camera positioned
just across the shadow boundary. (NASA: AS16-114-18436)
Fig. 4 - An identical Schmidt camera used in
training. Note the reflective body. (NASA: KSC-71P-628)
Fig. 3 was taken on the lunar surface and shows the UV camera's
legs and part of its body. You can indeed see that it is sited in the
shadow of the lunar module to shield it from the glare of the sun.
But it was only a foot or two inside the shadow; the brightly sunlit
portions of the lunar surface are not too far away.
Fig. 4 answers the question. It shows astronaut John Young
training with the UV camera prior to departure. If you examine the
aperture barrel where it joins the camera body and the diagonal
structural stiffener that runs from the inclinometer to the base, you
can see that the camera body is very reflective. In fact, it's only
slightly less reflective than the lunar module's insulation.
The camera body reflects fuzzy and distorted images of the
brightly lit surrounding lunar surface, even though the lunar module
is casting a shadow over the camera.
The triangular object
above John Young's head is the dangerously unfastened cloth flap from
his PLSS. As shown in the photo below, taken from the same instant of
the live television coverage, the flap is not visible. This proves
the still photo and the live television coverage did not photograph
the same event; one must have been prepared at a different
time. [Mary Bennett and David Percy]
First the minor quibbles. The cloth flap Percy and Bennett claim is
dangerously unfastened is thermal protection for the OPS, the
emergency oxygen supply. It is normally snapped down over the top of
the OPS. But in fact it can do its job quite effectively without
being secured in place. It is not especially dangerous to wear the
space suit on the lunar surface with the triangular OPS top flap
Fig. 5 - John Young's jumping salute as recorded by
the television camera on the lunar rover behind him. (NASA:
Apollo 16 EVA television coverage, GET 120:26:17, annotated by David
Percy and Mary Bennett)
Here and elsewhere the authors base their arguments on
suppositions such as blind, rigid, and almost religious adherence to
pre-established procedure. They convey their impression of space
travel as an almost magical undertaking that falls apart when the
least detail is disturbed.
In fact, the astronauts were frequently qualified engineers and in
many cases developed the procedures they themselves would follow.
They are not, as Bennett and Percy might characterize them, simply
acting out a script written for them by someone else. They are
following their own notes worked out during practice runs.
Apollo 16 was given an abbreviated suit donning procedure in order
to make up for their late landing. Some checks were likely omitted or
done hastily. The astronauts themselves would know which steps were
strictly crucial and related to life-threatening systems, and which
were redundant or relatively unimportant.
With the nits out of the way we can concentrate on the meat of the
issue. The flap the authors identify in the Hasselblad still photo
and whose absence is noted in the video record is not the PLSS flap
they claim it is.
In Fig. 6, which is the same photograph as Fig. 1
above, the yellow arrow identifies the object in question. We notice
that the PLSS flap is centered left-to-right on the OPS case. But the
object in the jump-salute photo is not centered. It's off center to
the astronaut's right.
Fig. 6 - Inset shows that the object in Fig. 1
(yellow arrow) is off-center laterally on the astronaut's
OPS. (NASA: AS16-113-18340)
If we examine the remainder of the photographs in the first EVA, we
find several that show John Young sporting a triangular object on his
OPS (Fig. 7). If we enlarge the section in question and note how the
shadow falls behind and to the left in the photo, corresponding to the
sunlight angle, we conclude that the object is indeed attached to the
front of the OPS. If it had been the protective cloth flap
with the snaps unfastened, it would be sticking up from the
back of the OPS where it folds over from the back panel. It
would be impossible for that flap to cast such a shadow as we see in
Fig. 7. The same object with confirming shadows can be found clearly
in photos AS16-109-17795 and AS16-109-17797.
Fig. 7 - Other photos of Young from the same moonwalk
show the same object. (NASA: AS16-114-18388)
Percy and Bennett expect to see the rear PLSS flap and so they
look only at the rear of the OPS in the video coverage. If we replay
the video and instead look at the front of the OPS, where the object
is really attached, we can distinctly see an object flapping back and
forth as Young jumps and salutes.
Fig. 8 - Closeup of an Apollo J-mission OPS with the
top Beta cloth flaps labelled. (MySpaceMuseum.com)
Fig. 8 shows the top of the OPS with the various flaps and panels
which comprise the top surface. The object in the photos above can be
clearly identified as a triangular flap attached at the front edge.
Here is an enlargement with the
panels labeled in color. Since the rear panel overlaps the top panel
it is not difficult to see how the front panel could be retained in a
vertical position by the rear flap if the rear flap were unfastened.
It's disappointing to make this discovery. Bennett and Percy
argue from the basis of a claim to have extensively if not
exhaustively examined the Apollo record. If this were true they could
have hardly missed something like this, which required Clavius
researchers only about half an hour to locate. Clearly the authors are
either lying about the depth of their research, or else they are
deliberately withholding information that they know contradicts their
Since cloth is too
flimsy to remain in the upright position, it must have been fastened
there by a whistle-blower. [Mary Bennett and David Percy]
A good example of piling baseless conjecture upon baseless
conjecture. When the rear flap was fastened its point would press
against the base of the front flap, holding it upright. Far from
being flimsy, the fabric was composed of several layers and quite
stiff enough to avoid folding over in lunar gravity.
There is no need for a hypothetical whistle-blower in this case,
since the behavior of the flap is fully explained by the
circumstances. Further, such a visible "whistle-blow" would have been
easily spotted by other workers and inspectors on the postulated film
Two cameras recording
the same scene must record the same details. [David Percy]
Not when the cameras record the action from completely different
angles, and one is a still camera and the other a motion picture