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Lunar rover folded up into cargo bay for Apollo missions to moon | Fact check

The claim: Post implies moon landings were faked because lunar rover didn't fit in Apollo capsule

A Feb. 21 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows a photo of an astronaut standing on the moon near an American flag, a lunar module and a lunar rover.

“How did the moon buggy fit inside the ‘spaceship?’” reads text included in the image.

Some commenters believed the rover could not have been transported to the moon, proving the moon landings were fake.

“Has anyone wondered why we never went back,” one comment reads. “It’s the biggest Farce in the world that people actually think this crap is true.”

“They’ve lied to us about everything,” reads another comment.

The post was liked more than 800 times in a week.

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Our rating: Missing context

The implied claim is wrong. The rover was designed to fold up into a compartment on Apollo 15 for its trip from Earth to the moon. The trips to the moon are real and well-documented.

Lunar rover designed for compact travel, easy set-up

The post uses an authentic photo found in the National Archives of Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin on the moon standing beside the first lunar roving vehicle (or rover) on Aug. 1, 1971. The process behind getting the vehicle to the moon is well-documented.

The aluminum-framed rover had a three-part chassis that was hinged in the center so it could be folded up and transported in the lunar module on the way to the moon during the Apollo 15 mission, according to NASA. The chassis was hung in the lunar module quad 1 bay, with the underside of the chassis facing out.

To deploy the vehicle, one astronaut would climb a ladder on the lunar module and release the rover, according to NASA. The second astronaut, on the ground, would use reels and tapes to slowly tilt it out. As it was let down, the rear wheels folded out and locked in place. Once the wheels touched the ground, the front of the rover could be unfolded, the wheels deployed, and the frame was lowered to the surface with pulleys.

The process was documented in transmissions received by NASA from Irwin and fellow Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott. The space agency also posted an animated video showing what the process looked like.

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The broader implied claim that the moon landings were faked has been debunked repeatedly.

Evidence that the NASA Apollo missions occurred includes photos and videos captured by astronauts on the moon, modern satellite photos of lunar vehicle tracks and other mission artifacts, hundreds of pounds of lunar rocks and samples collected on the expeditions and lunar data collected from devices Apollo astronauts left on the moon.

USA TODAY has previously debunked claims that the rover lacked adequate equipment to broadcast back to Earth, that the moon is too bright to land on and that the lunar module could not travel between Earth and the moon.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the claim for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Reuters also debunked the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lunar rover folded up for flight, unfolded on moon | Fact check