The Surveyor-3 ‘Hoax’ Footage
It has proven
to be a popular resource, allowing Internet surfers from around the world to
look at the contested imagery and decide for themselves whether there may be
grounds to be suspicious about the historical record of the Moon landings.
Dave Cosnette was not, of course, one of the original authors and
researchers who looked into this question.
Instead, he has highlighted the work of Mary Bennett, David S. Percy and
Marcus Allen. Recently, the
web-page was scrutinised by James Oberg, who is currently researching the Apollo
‘Moon hoax’ claims for a forthcoming book. Oberg has since drawn us into an
investigation that has culminated in a possibly surprising result.
January 2003 issue UFO Magazine drew attention to the controversy surrounding
James Oberg’s book, that was commissioned, then ‘decommissioned’ within
days, by NASA. Regular readers of
the magazine will recognise Jim as being an ardent sceptic and debunker whose
opinions have often been interlaced with some quite colourful language.
He naturally prefers to describe himself as ‘Space Historian/Author’.
Whether NASA are financially supporting his new book or not, he is
clearly throwing himself into research that he hopes will put the ‘Moon
Hoax’ theory to rest once and for all. Jim
Oberg’s aim is clear: to rigorously test the evidence that has been amassed
suggesting the Apollo Moon landings were faked by NASA, a conspiracy theory
gaining ground year by year.
January Jim Oberg wrote to Cosmic Conspiracies’ enquiring about a particular
piece of footage featuring on Dave’s Apollo web-page.
This is what he had to say:
video of Surveyor-3 from Apollo-12 shown at http://www.ufos-aliens.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/surv3.rm
is extremely interesting, since NASA appears to deny all responsibility. Does
ANYBODY know who may have created this sequence, when, and why?”
Jim is interested in was sourced from the video ‘What Happened on the Moon?’
published by Aulis. This video
presents material from the book ‘Dark Moon’, written by Mary Bennett and
David S. Percy (1999). The footage
shows images of the Surveyor-3 spacecraft taken from the Apollo 12 lunar module
as it descends towards the lunar surface. It
is controversial because the motion of the camera used to make the film is not
compatible with filming conditions astronauts would have experienced from within
the lunar module. Instead, the
footage appears to have been taken from a helicopter or control rig with a
mobile mounted camera, allowing the cameraman to ‘pan’ the shot as he or she
swept past the static Surveyor-3 lander. This
‘NASA’ film footage is described as ‘absolute Whistle-Blowing’ by
Bennett and Percy in ‘Dark Moon’ (p160), and comprises one part of a large
corpus of evidence that suggests fakery.
happen to know Mary Bennett, one of the authors of ‘Dark Moon’.
Back in March 2002 Dave Cosnette’s web-page had been checked over by
Mary, who suggested a number of technical changes, which were duly made.
So we knew how to contact Mary, and she was aware of the general contents
of the web-page. It thus seemed
appropriate to take up Jim Oberg’s challenge and look into the matter.
We contacted Mary, asking for further information about the footage, and she came back to us with some factual information and a short statement. This read:
“The sequence in question occurs about six minutes into a program called “CONQUEST, A history of space achievements from the V1 to the Shuttle Part Two: Apollo 12 to NASA's Viking flight to Mars and beyond. Including original NASA film". (Distributed by GMH Entertainments). There is nothing in the program to suggest that this Apollo 12 landing footage is a simulation. The sequence is sandwiched between other shots of Apollo 12 landing film and therefore it is entirely reasonable for the viewer to conclude that it is 'original NASA film'.
The voiceover commentary for the scene is: "The landing module was to prove it could make a pin-point touch down by flying past Surveyor III, a robot fired to the Moon three and a half years before."
And from the LM itself we hear: " . . .Got plenty of gas, plenty of gas." Houston: "30 seconds.
That’s why we have credited the sequence to NASA. In the video ‘What happened on the Moon?’ the cover of this video (from which this sequence was taken) is shown to the viewer.”
Jim Oberg seemed to be right.
This film clip made up part of a sequence of film images in a video that
was interlaced with official footage.
Yet the Surveyor-3 flyby sequence was not from the NASA archive, and therefore, we now believe, could not be used as evidence of NASA
faking the Apollo record. Mary Bennett made a couple of further points in response to our subsequent questions:
"At the time
of writing their book and making their video - it had not occurred to the
authors that anyone - other than NASA -
would have supplied the material. Now, NASA records may well show this footage isn't theirs, but from the public’s point of view,
they are looking at an apparently official 1987 documentary covering the Space Program and are being led to assume that this
is all genuine footage. Since, if this Surveyor 3 flyby material is a simulation, this fact is not pointed out as such: it is not made
clear either on screen or on the soundtrack before, during or after this scene. Indeed, the astronaut’s live commentary plays over
this scene. So the viewer is led to assume that, as printed on the case of their video, the documentary makers are using NASA
seemed to be conceding that, in hindsight, the Surveyor-3 flyby footage should
not have been attributed to NASA, although she later denied this. Indeed, ‘Cosmic Conspiracies’ were directly and
indirectly criticised for the way that we had followed their lead in attributing
the footage and screen shots to NASA. Which
made us chuckle. This prompted us
to ask Mary what groundwork they had done at the time of writing ‘Dark Moon’
regarding this footage. Had they
checked the NASA archive to validate the contested material?
Had they asked the makers of the 1987 ‘Conquest’ video where they had
obtained the footage, or asked their permission to feature it on ‘What
Happened on the Moon’? Mary gave
us this reply:
“We had no reason to doubt
that this particular footage was anything other than NASA material and therefore
in the public
domain. In any event this sequence was used under the accepted publishing term 'Fair Use', and in the video 'What Happened on
the Moon?' the source was made clear.
“The production company for 'What Happened on the Moon?' received dubs on NTSC Beta SP of a large quantity of Apollo
material, including all the lunar surface footage that was transferred from the original 16mm Kinescope B&W and color film.
Additionally, they received the 16mm camera on-boards and 16mm film from the lunar surface film cameras. All of which was
supplied through NASA.”
is our opinion that this particular piece of footage seems to have slipped
through Bennett and Percy’s net during their initial investigation, and that
they simply assumed it was from NASA without looking into it.
We agree with James Oberg here: this is not NASA footage from the actual
Apollo 12 landing at all. Where it
actually came from remains a mystery, one that Bennett and Percy continue to
insist points the finger at a culpable NASA.
the April 2003 issue of UFO Magazine (pp58-9), Graham Birdsall took up this
research and gained a further statement from David Percy.
The following extract highlights the reason why, in Percy’s mind, the
footage remains controversial, despite NASA’s express denials of ownership:
to those who were involved in the making of this film, all the material covering
Apollo and Gemini etc., was sent to the production company from NASA – footage
that was in the public domain and resulting in a film far less expensive to make
than would otherwise be the case. Note that this Surveyor 3 ‘fly-by’ scene would have been
a very expensive exercise for just a few seconds of film. Specially recreating such a sequence would negate the
criteria of keeping production costs as low as possible.
completed, this film was subsequently transferred to video-tape duplication
masters and licensed by Lamancha Productions Ltd., Edinburgh, Scotland who added
their logo to the start of the video
(Andy: Jim Oberg warns that there is a similarly-named company in the US that
specialises in Hispanic Gay Porn movies!).
A former director of this company has also stated that, to his knowledge,
all this material concerning Apollo was sent directly from NASA.”
David Percy and Mary Bennett are insistent that their inclusion of this footage
within the corpus of evidence they have collated should be allowed to stand.
They argue that although NASA deny any knowledge of this footage, which
is clearly faked, the film must have originally been sourced from NASA by the
documentary-makers, whose word on the matter seems to be taken on face value.
our point of view, however, we think that insufficient ground-work was carried
out on the footage, and conclusions were attached to its importance that no
longer stand up to scrutiny. In
effect, this can no longer be considered to be part of the official ‘Apollo
record’, so should not be used to argue for NASA fakery.
Jim Oberg agrees with us on this, which is a rather odd situation for
both parties to be in, but there we go.
the other hand, Graham Birdsall argues that NASA, and more importantly JPL,
still have some answering to do about this, and that they are set for a showdown
with Oberg if they fail to produce a further statement on the matter:
a staunch NASA supporter, James Oberg has also been highly critical of the space
agency for its past failings. By
flatly denying all knowledge of the Surveyor 3 fly-by footage, and with JPL
officials refusing to comment, Oberg’s relationship with NASA could be sorely
tested if they fail to provide him with definitive answers to specific issues
raised by Apollo conspiracy theorists.”
is throwing down the gauntlet to JPL here, which could produce results.
But the reason why JPL aren’t talking to Percy and Bennett, we suspect,
is not because JPL have anything to hide but because, well, it’s Percy and
Bennett! JPL won’t want to give
them any shred of credibility, by being seen to cooperate with conspiracy
theorists who have such a poor general regard for the space agency.
We suspect that JPL’s answer to Oberg will be just as unequivocal as
NASA’s: ‘This is not our footage’.
we would like to say that James Oberg appears to be making real progress with
his research and we are looking forward to the eventual release of his book.
Going on the strength of this finding it should make for some very
interesting reading indeed.
Andy Lloyd, Dave Cosnette & Martin Cosnette