As humanity gears up to return to the moon, more and more people may deny that we ever went there in the first place.
Just a small sliver of the American populace currently believes the Apollo moon landings were faked; polls consistently put the number at around 5%, said Roger Launius, who served as NASA's chief historian from 1990 to 2002. But that sliver may expand considerably in the coming years.
"The thing that concerns me more and more about this is, as time passes and the Apollo landings are farther into the past and fewer people remember them, it might be easier to embrace these kinds of ideas," Launius, who worked as a senior official at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., before retiring in 2017, said this month during a presentation with NASA's Future In-Space Operations working group.
Educators need to take the hoax issue seriously and make an effort to answer questions, especially those posed by young people, about the Apollo landings, he added.
Nobody has set foot on the gray lunar dirt since December 1972, when the Apollo 17 astronauts departed for Earth. But that could change soon.