Wernher von Braun Strolling on the Moon

Wernher von Braun walking along the lunar surface. It's not an April Fool's joke. Credit: United Press International

Wernher von Braun walking along the lunar surface. It’s not an April Fool’s joke. Credit: United Press International

I often post strange or fun space history pictures from NASA’s amazing archives on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. The other days I posted this one showing Wernher von Braun strolling casually across the Lunar surface. I didn’t realize until after it was up that the date was April 1st. Many who saw it assumed it was some clever April Fools photoshoppery. It isn’t; it’s a real picture. 


Von Braun looks on at the lunar landing scene. Credit: United Press International

Von Braun looks on at the lunar landing scene. Credit: United Press International

What little I found about this picture was surprisingly hard to track down. It seems in the fall of 1969 there was fair held in Atlanta, Georgia, the Southeastern Fair. Coming on the heels of Apollo 11 successful lunar landing, it’s unsurprising that one of the exhibits was a mockup of Tranquility Base, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s landing site. As one of the key players in Apollo’s success – at the time he was the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and widely known as the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle – he was on hand when the exhibit was opened. This picture, along with a second where he’s seen in the foreground looking at the lunar scene, were transferred by United Press International on September 25, 1969.



  • Fabio Sau says:

    Always moving to me to see my legendary Wernher!!! ^_^ Inspiring pics as usual when the charismatic German-American is on screen.

  • David Shomper, ex-Apollo engineer says:

    Now the deniers will be coming out of the woodwork. “See? I told you it was faked!”

  • I thought I had seen every photo out there of von Braun but you go and surprise me with this one! Who knew the lunar landings took place in Atlanta. That explains why no one ever discovered the ruse. Hollywood was too obvious a place to fake this so someone at Marshall suggested Atlanta. Who would have thought to look for a fake lunar movie set in Atlanta? Genius I say!!! (Tragically there are 7% of the American people who claim to believe the lunar landings were faked.) Thanks for sharing this!!!

    • jtl1 says:

      Mr. Carver, you should check out the Erik Bergaust bio on Dr. von Braun. The photo of him standing on the “moon” surface is there, just before the first appendix.

      By the way, your essay on von Braun and the Rocket Team was truly excellent. Your defense of the man was thoughtful and persuasive.

      • I have collected numerous books on von Braun and his team over the years. Naturally the Bergaust bio is one I do not see on my bookshelf. I will have to check it out. Thank you for your kind comments on my thesis. I don’t get to discuss it much because it is on a subject most people are not familiar with or simply aren’t interested in. When I started my thesis I thought that von Braun had to be a morally dubious character to have worked under the Nazis but I was surprised to find it wasn’t such an easy black and white issue. I think earning a degree in history really challenges us to think about subjects in a critical manner and to bring context to the discussion. I volunteer at the National World War II Museum here in New Orleans and the major “controversial” subject that I have encountered has been the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan. I have had some fascinating discussions on the subject and once you dig deep into the history you find there was no morally definitive answer that meets the cookie cutter mentality of most people. I enjoy your posts and I love to learn new facts and to get enlightened perspectives on space history. The more I learn the more I want to know.

  • Don’t say he’s hypocritical,
    But rather that he’s apolitical.
    “Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
    That’s not my department,” says Wernher von Braun.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,220201,00.html#ixzz2Pb4ap8GK

  • This is an efficient demonstration about the fact pictures always need to be complete by the context : when, where and how it was shot and others informations sometimes.
    This is the reason why we need to understand how our eyes and culture dictate the way we understand a picture.
    As an example, people says men never went on the moon : proof the flag, it is floating. Put if you look well to the picture, there is an arm for holding it. Why ? let fly the flag at half staff means defeate or dead which was not possible in the middle of the Cold War. Never forget the moon conquest was also a battle again soviet union….

  • Gerald Arnold says:

    Ultimately the Cold War presented two choices… either believe or the bomb. You’re either with us or with the communists. Sound familiar? In this system belief still trumps evidence. Would any of us volunteer to be placed inside of a giant microwave oven for and hour while siting inside a VW Bus for protection?

  • Nguyen Duy Thuc says:

    These Picture must be made in a low-budget studio. I don’t understand why you guy keep smoking these kind of stuffs. Can you please just respect history?

  • rioma9 says:

    Wernher Von Braun Strolling on the Moon pic, should tell everyone how easy it was to dupe the people. That guy once even said it would be impossible to go to the moon back than. He said it would take a spaceship, or rocket the size of the Empire State building to be able to accomplish that.
    If you all just check out this Video-ad(s) made by NASA,

    URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlXG0REiVzE

    you will see how NASA proves his point. Check them out and see for yourselves why it STILL it’s not possible to go to the moon, much less anywhere else for that matter, and so, they NEVER, have gone to the moon!
    EXTREME temperatures at Van Allen Belts, and also IMMENSE radiation makes that impossible right now.. You can’t dispute these FACTS!, The NASA guy by the name of Terry Smith, (a NASA engineer) explains it very clearly, therefore, you all shouldn’t doubt it, cause, it’s from NASA itself!!!! Check it out…it’s seven minutes short.

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