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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 16, 2022

Some TV coverage of the 1969 moon landing was animated, but that doesn’t mean the event was fake

If Your Time is short

  • Some social media users are sharing old footage of Buzz Aldrin commenting on how coverage of the moon landing was animated as evidence that the event was faked. Some coverage was animated — there wasn’t a camera on the moon before they landed — but we already knew that.

A recent TikTok video being shared on Facebook suggests that the 1969 moon landing was fake, citing something Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin said during an interview with then-late-night TV host Conan O’Brien.

"I remember my parents waking me up and we went down and we watched you guys land on the moon," O’Brien says in the clip. 

"No, you didn’t," says Aldrin, who with Neil Armstrong was one of the first people to walk on the moon. 

"Why?" O’Brien says. 

"There wasn’t any television, there wasn’t anybody taking a picture. You watched animation." 

"Buzz Aldrin straight up telling the truth," reads text flanking the TikTok video. "But it’s a conspiracy right?" 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

But Aldrin was not making a big reveal during the May 2000 interview. He was recounting known history. 

Featured Fact-check

"TV coverage of the first moon landing in 1969 relied heavily on fabricated images," the Orlando Sentinel reported on the event’s 50th anniversary. The newspaper quoted Robert Stone, director and writer of the PBS show "Chasing the Moon" saying that what people initially watched on TV was a re-creation of what was happening in space. 

"They had actors dressed up in spacesuits," Stone said. "They had animation. It wasn’t until they landed and the video camera was pulled out that we saw anything. Before that, it was a radio show with enactments."

But footage of Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the moon was authentic.  

"Look at those pictures," CBS anchor Walter Conkite said at the time. "Wow. It’s a little shadowy."

The network’s coverage made clear that parts of the footage weren’t real. 

The word "animation" appears around the 6:24 mark of this clip of the CBS footage as a spaceship nears the lunar surface. That’s because there wasn’t a camera already waiting on the moon to film the first humans walking there. 


A July 2019 post on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum website explains how the actual footage of the moon landing was recorded. On the advice of the military, according to the post, NASA contracted with Westinghouse to develop a small, $2.29 million black-and-white camera. It was stored for flight in a compartment near the ladder that Armstrong climbed down to reach the moon’s surface. It was activated when he pulled on a handle that released it from the compartment. It then transmitted images back to Earth. 

We rate claims that Aldrin’s comments prove the moon landing was fake False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, Jan. 31, 2022

Orlando Sentinel, Apollo 11 moon landing on TV: Blurry but inspiring images viewed by millions, July 20, 2019

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, How We Saw Armstrong’s First Steps, July 8, 2019, Live TV coverage of the Apollo 11 landing and Moon walk, July 20, 2018YouTube, CBS News Coverage of Apollo 11 - Moon Landing, July 19, 2009

YouTube, Buzz Aldrin Was The First Man To Relieve Himself On The Moon | Late Night with Conan O’Brien, May 17, 2000


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Some TV coverage of the 1969 moon landing was animated, but that doesn’t mean the event was fake

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