SPACE RAGE; Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Punched Interviewer for Claiming Moon Landing Was Faked

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Byline: By Thomas Quinn

MILLIONS watched on TV as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind by landing on the moon.

Yet, since that day in 1969, they have been dogged by fanatics who claim NASA's finest hour was an elaborate hoax to help the US government fight the Cold War.

Some claim the pictures he took on the moon's surface were staged in a film studio and that they have consistently lied about the most famous space mission of all time.

However, as Channel 4 prepares to screen In the Shadow of the Moon on Saturday, the most comprehensive documentary about the moon missions yet from the point of view of the men who went there, Buzz has finally faced down the conspiracy theorists.

He's even punched one of them.

"Oh, that happened a few years ago," chuckled the 78-year-old former US air force pilot. "I kind of lost my patience with people who were continuing to annoy us."

The incident can be viewed on YouTube where it has become something of a classic.

Buzz was "lured" to a hotel in Beverly Hills, LA, to be interviewed by a Japanese TV company.

Instead, he was confronted by Bart Sibrel, an US independent documentary film maker convinced the Apollo moon landings never happened.

He handed Buzz a Bible and demanded he swear on it that he walked on the moon.

When Buzz, a devout Christian, refused to play along with the stunt, Sibrel branded him a "liar" and a "fraud".

It was a terrible insult for Aldrin, who had lost three friends when a fire ravaged the first moon rocket, Apollo 1, and came close to losing three more when Apollo 13 nearly crashed in 1970.

The veteran astronaut was so disgusted he didn't even bother arguing the point, he just landed one on Sibrel's jaw. "Well, you certainly can't believe every person's statement or observation on the internet," Buzz said of the conspiracy theorists now.

"You have to think carefully - the Russians were fully capable of tracking things going to the moon and listening in, and keeping track of what they did when they got there, because they sent many robots to the moon.

"So unless we got them involved in the conspiracy - at the height of the Cold War - I am sure they would have been the first to point out we didn't do what we said we did."

Although extreme, Sibrel's campaign to "expose" Buzz and his fellow astronauts serves to highlight just what an extraordinary achievement the Apollo moon landings were.

From June 1969 to 1972, NASA successfully sent six missions to the moon, during which 12 men walked on the surface.

Since then, no human has gone beyond Earth's orbit.

Yet this was achieved before the invention of the microchip or flat screen TV, when cars were as big as boats and a woman's place was in the home. …