One way to get an tour of Johnson Space Center’s high-security Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility is to question whether people landed on the moon at all. At least that strategy works if you’re an NBA basketball star like Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
It all started on Monday, with Curry’s riffs on “Winging It,” a basketball-centric podcast on The Ringer. Curry and other basketball players touched on a variety of topics, ranging from golf simulators to dinosaur sounds. After wondering how scientists know what sounds dinosaurs made, Curry segued to the moon-hoax controversy (at around 46:46 in the podcast):
Curry: “We ever been to the moon?”
Curry: “They gonna come get us now, but I don’t think so either.”
Host Annie Finberg: “You don’t think so?”
Curry: “Mm-mm. … You talking ’bout we took something to the moon? I don’t think so.”
Then the conversation turned to 1990s-era bag phones. But the repartee rebounded on the internet, so much so that NASA jumped up to provide an assist. Here’s what Allard Beutel, a spokesperson for the space agency, said in an emailed statement:
“There’s lots of evidence NASA landed 12 American astronauts on the moon from 1969 – 1972. We’d love for Mr. Curry to tour the lunar lab at our Johnson Space Center in Houston, perhaps the next time the Warriors are in town to play the Rockets. We have hundreds of pounds of moon rocks stored there, and the Apollo mission control. During his visit, he can see first-hand what we did 50 years ago, as well as what we’re doing now to go back to the moon in the coming years, but this time to stay.”
Moon-hoax claims have been swirling around the conspiracy-loving corners of the internet for decades, despite efforts by NASA and other folks such as “Bad Astronomer” reality-checker Phil Plait to beat them down. Curry even name-checked film director Stanley Kubrick, who was supposedly in on the faked TV coverage.
In his email, Beutel pointed to a NASA webpage that rounds up resources refuting fake-moon claims. And if further evidence is required, the photos of Apollo moon landing sites produced by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (which is a mission managed by Arizona State University) should help put Curry’s doubts to rest.
There’ll be even fresher evidence coming in over the next few years, due to the expected rise of commercial lunar landings. A Pittsburgh-based company called Astrobotic has even talked about revisiting Apollo 11’s Tranquility Base, although it’s not clear whether that’ll be on the itinerary anytime soon.
Will Curry pick up the ball and take that NASA tour? If it were me, saying yes would be a slam-dunk. And Curry just might feel the same way, based on the emoji he tweeted today: