Orion EFT-1, Apollo and the Van Allen Radiation Belts

On December 3, 2014, NASA published a video describing the Orion EFT-1 mission, narrated by a NASA scientist, Kelly Smith. The mission was the first unmanned flight of the Orion spacecraft.

Some unscrupulous flat-Earthers decided to turn the video into ‘evidence’ that NASA never went to the moon. They cut down the video to the ‘important’ parts and added in prejudicial narration and subtitles. There are countless of such videos on YouTube, and at some point, it was nearly impossible to search for anything educational about the Van Allen radiation belts on YouTube.

They are wrong. There are, in fact, two Van Allen radiation belts. Apollo traversed the outer belt that has lower radiation level in a hurry, while Orion was deliberately sent into the far more dangerous inner belt. They are named ‘belts’ precisely because they are like the real belts. It is possible to bypass the most dangerous parts of the belt, just like Apollo did.

Orion EFT-1 is not ‘evidence’ that the Apollo mission didn’t happen.

The Original Video

This is the original from NASA.

The statements that were taken out of context by these unscrupulous flat-Earthers are near 3:00:

“As we get further away from Earth, we’ll pass through the Van Allen belts, an area of dangerous radiation. Radiation like this could harm the guidance systems, on-board computers or other electronics on Orion. Naturally, we have to pass through this danger zone twice, once up and once back.

But Orion has protection. Shielding will be put to the test as the vehicle cuts through the waves of radiation. Sensors aboard will record radiation levels for scientists to study. We must solve these challenges before we send people through this region of space.”

Flat-Earthers’ Interpretation

Flat-Earthers took these statements as a ‘confession’ that they never went to the Moon, and that the Moon landings several decades ago were a big lie.


It is true that the Van Allen radiation belts are dangerous. The radiation can damage living tissue and electronics passing through the area. These flat-Earthers conveniently omitted the fact that Apollo and Orion had different missions and trajectories.

The Van Allen radiation belts consist of two parts. The inner belt has higher radiation level, and the outer belt that has lower radiation level.

Apollo didn’t pass through the dangerous inner belt. They skipped it and simply went over the outer belt very fast. NASA engineers knew the danger of the Van Allen radiation belt, and the missions were designed to minimize the exposure from these parts of space.

On the other hand, Orion EFT-1 was deliberately sent into the most dangerous part of the Van Allen radiation belt. During the ascent, it was inside the inner belt for 15 minutes, and 35 minutes during the descent. When it was inside the belt, all its cameras were turned off to prevent damages. Apollo never passed through this part of the belt.

So, these flat-Earthers are, once again, wrong. They simply cherry-picked ‘favorable’ parts of NASA’s statements and believed what they want to believe.