Between 1969 and 1972, NASA completed six successful landings on the Moon, the most famous being Apollo 11, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two men to step foot on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Armstrong stepped off the lunar lander Eagle, delivered his “one small step” speech before burying the US flag in the dusty ground to end the Space Race. But, their monumental achievement has long been overshadowed by outrageous claims that the Apollo programme was an elaborate NASA hoax, thought to be spurred on by Armstrong avoiding the limelight after touchdown to Earth.
Speaking in 2010 he said: “I think it was August of 2002 Bart Sibrel, a conspiracy theorists, confronted Buzz Aldrin at a hotel in Los Angeles and he pulled his standard sort of stunt.
“But when Buzz just ignored him, he starts saying ‘you are a liar, a cheat and you have no account’.
“Then Buzz gave him a left hook that sent him reeling and he immediately turns around to his cameraman and says ‘did you get that on tape?’
“Anyway, that’s the silly part, the serious part is that when we think about history, we have to ask ourselves the question ‘how do we know what we know?’”
Mr Launius explained why he thought that youngsters were more susceptible to believing the claims.
He added: “How do you think that you know something happens in someplace?
“If we witness it by our eyes, does that mean that we know this? But if we didn’t witness it, do we accept the accounts of eyewitnesses?
“Do we accept the accounts that we through the visual record, either still motion, still imagery or motion pictures or something like that over television or the internet.
READ MORE: Moon landing: Buzz Aldrin admits ‘it was so well staged’ in unearthed Apollo 11 footage
“It is that community, who have not experienced it in any way shape or form, that you get the largest amount of questioning.
“I think it has something to do with the fact that they didn’t witness it at all and the demise of trust in government and institutions in general.
“With that kind of distrust, I would suggest to you that it is easier for them to question these sorts of things.
“The reality is that it would be the coolest thing in the world to go back to the Moon just to prove we went there the first time.”