Fact Check

Did Astronauts Remove Their Helmets on the 'Moon'?

That doesn't seem like a good idea.

Published May 4, 2017

A photograph showing a group of astronauts without their helmets on indicates that the moon landing was staged.

Recently, a new piece of "evidence" supporting the ever-popular conspiracy theory that the moon landing was staged came to our attention:  a photograph purportedly showing a group of astronauts without their helmets on the surface of the "moon."

This photograph is authentic, but was not taken on the surface of the moon.

The original photograph was taken on 6 February 1972 and showed the crew of Apollo 16, Lunar Module Pilot Charles M. Duke, Commander John W. Young, and Command Module Pilot Thomas K. Mattingly II, during a training exercise at the Kennedy Space Center:

It wasn't until about two months later, on 21 April 1972, that these astronauts touched down on the surface of the moon. On that occasion, they wore their helmets:

On April 16, 1972, the sixth manned lunar landing mission, Apollo 16, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on its way to conduct scientific investigations on the Moon’s Descartes highlands. The mission was also the first usage of the Moon as an astronomical observatory with the use of the ultraviolet camera/spectrograph which photographed ultraviolet light emitted by Earth and other celestial objects. In this photo taken by lunar module pilot Charles M. Duke, commander of the Apollo 16 lunar landing mission, John W. Young, salutes the United States flag during the mission’s first extravehicular activity. Both the Lunar Module (LM) “Orion” and the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) can be seen in the background. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. held overall responsibility for both the Saturn V launch vehicle and the LRV.


Lunar and Planetary Institute.   "Apollo 16 Mission."     Retrieved 4 May 2017.

Howell, Elizabeth.   "Apollo 16: Exploring the Highlands."     Space.com.   7 September 2012.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.