4.11 2002, the year Buzz made contact

The advent of the Internet as a popular medium in the early 1990s allowed all kinds of hoax theory proponents to spread their ideas rapidly. Low-cost camcorders and video editing systems gave them the means to produce many home-brew videos, disseminating them at first on videocassettes for sale and later directly on the Internet and on DVD.

This, together with the Fox show, led to an explosive production of Moon hoax videos and spawned a new generation of conspiracy theorists and theories. One of these theorists is Bart Sibrel.

Figure 4.11-1. Bart Sibrel in 2001.

In 2001, Sibrel released a 47-minute video, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon, in which he claimed to have found a “secret” videotape of the Apollo 11 mission that proved the fakery.

The footage was actually a test TV transmission performed during the mission and was well-known to space experts and historians, but Sibrel’s allegation and his appearance in the Fox TV show propelled him to great popularity in conspiracy theory circles.

Sibrel began following the Moon astronauts (even when they went to the supermarket) and asking them to swear on the Bible that they had really walked on the Moon. Some did; others refused.

On September 9, 2002, Sibrel chased Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin with a cameraman and a sound technician in front of a Beverly Hills hotel and harassed him. Aldrin tried to avoid a confrontation, but in the end Sibrel accused the astronaut of being “a coward and a liar”. Aldrin, who was 72 at the time, replied with a punch to Sibrel’s face. The first reaction of the 37-year-old hoax theorist was to ask his cameraman “Did you get that on camera?”

Figure 4.11-2. Buzz Aldrin (right) initiates a hard docking maneuver with Bart Sibrel (far right).

Figure 4.11-3. The confrontation between Sibrel and Aldrin.

The incident attracted worldwide media attention and inevitably rekindled the Moon hoax debate. Charges against Aldrin were dropped when “witnesses came forward to say that Mr Sibrel had aggressively poked Aldrin with the Bible before he was punched”. Moreover, Sibrel “sustained no visible injury and did not seek medical attention, and Mr Aldrin had no previous criminal record.”

* Ex-astronaut escapes assault charge, BBC News, 21 September 2002.

Sibrel continued to pester Moon astronauts Alan Bean, Gene Cernan, Michael Collins, Al Worden, Bill Anders, John Young, Neil Armstrong and others, sometimes presenting fake credentials (for example to Edgar Mitchell, who threw him out of his home).

According to Clavius.org, he trespassed on Neil Armstrong’s property while trying to confront him with his hoax allegations (Armstrong called the police). Sibrel was subsequently fired from his job as a cameraman for a Nashville TV station.

Another Sibrel video, Astronauts Gone Wild (2004), showed Cernan, Bean and Mitchell swearing on Sibrel’s Bible that they did go to the Moon, as the conspiracy theorist demanded. Despite this, Sibrel still claims that the Apollo Moon landings were faked. The video also showed Armstrong politely refusing and saying “Mr Sibrel, knowing you, that’s probably a fake Bible.”

Figure 4.11-4. Bart Sibrel in a picture published in 2015 by the Daily Star.

Sibrel stated in 2015 that he intended to quit his efforts: “I am going to put it all behind me. I've not enjoyed this process in the slightest. I got kicked out of church, I got unfriended by many people because of what I believe, that the Moon landings are fake. It's been an interesting experience but so be it.”*

* Filmmaker has 'proof the Moon landings were a CIA HOAX', Daily Star, 8 November 2015, reissued on 21 July 2018.