Conspiracy theorists are exhausting the Internet once more, with a theory about why NASA is "really" postponing humanity's return to the Moon.
On Tuesday, NASA confirmed that their plan to put humans on the Moon has been delayed once more. Having originally been scheduled for 2024, the space agency pushed it back to 2025 in 2021, but now that date has slipped too.
"Safety is our top priority, and to give Artemis teams more time to work through the challenges with first-time developments, operations, and integration, we're going to give more time on Artemis II and III," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Tuesday. "So, what I want to tell you is, we are adjusting our schedule to target Artemis II for September of 2025 and September of 2026 for Artemis III, which will send humans for the first time to the lunar south pole."
This explanation was not good enough for conspiracy theorists, because nothing is. They of course (wrongly) think that the reason why it is taking so long to go to the Moon is because this is the first time NASA has actually attempted it.
The "moon landing is faked" conspiracy is an old one. "Evidence" presented by conspiracy theorists that we didn't make it to the Moon includes the classic "how did the flag wave if there's no wind", to which the answer is "there was a metal pole at the top of the flag".
Meanwhile, evidence presented by the mainstream view that we did go to the Moon includes footage of people on the Moon, mirrors on the Moon that have been targeted with lasers from Earth, and Moon rocks which we returned to Earth from the Moon.
The reason for NASA's delay is what they say it is; an abundance of caution to make sure everyone makes it to the Moon safely. Spaceflight is no trivial thing. Just ask the team behind the doomed Peregrine Lander, currently unable to make it to the Moon and deliver its payloads, which include the DNA of Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry.
Adding in landing on and then lifting off from the Moon, with a crew on board, does not make any spaceflight easier. NASA may have the knowledge of previous spaceflights, but is working with entirely new rockets and spaceships. As eager as everyone is to get to the lunar surface (AGAIN) and beyond, we'll just have to accept that to do so safely may take us to 2026, or even beyond that.