A classic conspiracy theory is being discussed on social media this week, after Twitter user Rod Mason asked his followers how lunar landers returned astronauts to Earth.
Of course, people were quick to call the question stupid, or question why Mason posted it to Twitter rather than Google. Not only is there a whole lot of information out there, but there's also some pretty awesome footage of lunar landers during liftoff, as well as a lot of videos of astronauts bouncing around on the Moon.
As seen in the above video, the ascent stage of the lander shot up with ease, while the descent phase remained on the Moon as a launch pad.
"The ascent engine was a fixed, constant-thrust rocket with a thrust of about 15,000 N," NASA explains on their website. "Maneuvering was achieved via the reaction control system, which consisted of the four thrust modules, each one composed of four 450 N thrust chambers and nozzles pointing in different directions."
Several other Twitter users informed Mason that this thrust came from mixing aerozine 50 fuel, and a nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) oxidizer.
Mason was unconvinced by this, replying "so that thing pictured there on the moon just took off and flew back through the sound barrier and back to earth? In 1969?"
Well, no. The lunar module was not designed for reentering the Earth's atmosphere. It may also have been considered "bad form" for the occupants of the landers to abandon their colleagues on board the lunar command module orbiting the moon and head back to Earth.
Instead, the lunar module rejoined the command module and docked with it.
Here, the crews rejoined their colleagues and ride home, before discarding of the lunar module to crash on the Moon's surface. The first lunar module to take humans to the Moon – known as the Eagle – did not get aimed at the lunar surface, however. In 2021, researcher James Meador conducted calculations on the module's trajectory, finding that it may still be orbiting the Moon over half a century later.