Apollo 20: The Dark Side of the Moon

Did you ever hear the tragedy of William Rutledge the astronaut?

No? I thought not. It’s not a story NASA would tell you.

Gather round, dear readers, and listen as I tell you a tale of woe and wonder—the tale of a secret Apollo mission that made contact with aliens, on the dark side of the Moon. It has been covered up for decades. But now, thanks to the testimony of a former astronaut and the brilliant minds of the YouTube comments section, the real story can finally be told.

The Apollo 20 mission patch. Somehow, NASA had enough secret DOD cash to launch a Saturn V, but not enough to hire a graphic designer who could draw spaceships convincingly. Guess the guy who did these was on vacation. And if you’re wondering about the red text, Google Translate says it’s Latin for “Your grandchildren will pick”—whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean.

In May 2007, user “retiredafb” uploaded a series of videos to YouTube, containing shocking footage and photographs of an alien spacecraft on the lunar surface. He claimed his name was William Rutledge, and he had flown on Apollo 20.

You might ask: Apollo 20? Didn’t the Moon missions end at Apollo 17? Well, that is exactly what NASA has been telling obedient sheeple, for decades. Today you will learn the truth.

You see, Apollo 17 was only the last official mission of the Apollo program. Three more followed, but they were kept strictly secret, the weight of their revelations too great for the world to bear. We know from documentary footage that Apollo 18 fell victim to rock spiders; Apollo 19, Rutledge claimed, was lost in space to a freak accident. It was Apollo 20, then, that successfully flew to the far side of the Moon, and encountered the dark secret of extraterrestrial intelligence…

An alien city, appearing prominently in the Apollo 20 footage1. Who built it? Why did they leave? What secrets lie within that cavernous, aeon-dead honeycomb of primal masonry?

It started in 1971, when Apollo 15 took numerous high-resolution photographs of the far side of the Moon. None appeared to be particularly unusual, at first—but a closer look revealed the bulk of a vast alien craft, sitting in the shadow of a ridge. This came as a shock to NASA. Imagine the technology, ripe for the taking! So the Nixon Administration restarted the canceled Apollo 18, 19, and 20 missions, and shockingly, in the 1970s spirit of détente, reached out to the Soviet government for collaboration.

The view from Apollo 15, orbiting many kilometers overhead.
The view from Apollo 20, moments before landing. Somehow not much better.

In 1976, the joint US-Soviet Apollo 20 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base2. In most technical respects, it was like the Apollo missions that had gone before, with a Saturn V launch stack taking an LM and CSM to the Moon. The crew comprised two Americans and one Russian. There was Rutledge, of course; also flying were astronaut Leona Snyder3, trained secretly for the mission, as well as veteran Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, a hero of space travel who had carried out the first EVA, in 1965, and docked with an American spacecraft in 1975. Leonov was alive until October 11, 2019, though he never addressed his involvement with Apollo 20.

The two crews of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project—the only US-Soviet space collaboration that was made public. Leonov is on the top right.

Leonov and Rutledge took the lunar module down to the surface, overflying the alien craft on the way down. They parked nearby and began explorations. The alien city, pictured above, was in poor condition; after countless aeons, it had broken down into a large rubble heap, save for a structure the astronauts termed “the Cathedral.”

As for the mothership, it proved to be far more fruitful. Rutledge determined it to be 1.5 million years old, based on meteorite impacts, and he and Leonov wandered extensively throughout its cavernous interior, discovering things only hinted at in the 2007 reveal. There were remnants of vegetation; ten-centimeter alien corpses, scattered throughout a network of glass tubes; rocks that released a strange yellow liquid. But the greatest find, the crowning achievement of Apollo 20, was an alien they called the “Mona Lisa.”

The Mona Lisa was humanoid, in a state of neither life nor death. 1.65 meters tall, with twelve fingers, and no nostrils. She appeared to have been the ship’s pilot and was hooked up by tubes to the controls. After performing basic medical tests, Leonov and Rutledge carried her back to the lunar module,4 and even as they took off from the Moon, she remained in that peculiar stasis. Rutledge claims she has remained hidden on Earth to this very day…

Who knows what the government has done with the knowledge, in the decades since? There must now be a whole secret base at the site of the crashed ship, a joint US-Russian project, trying to probe its secrets and perhaps make contact with living aliens elsewhere in the universe. It’s a vast conspiracy, and the Moon surely has not revealed all its secrets. Maybe it’s actually hollow. Maybe it is home to a secret Nazi base. And don’t forget the rock spiders!

A lunar landscape. How could such shadowy crags and lifeless, desolate vistas not hide a world of mystery and menace?

Apollo 20 is, at its core, a good story: a successful mission into the unknown, and an unprecedented US-Soviet collaboration. The Apollo program concluded with a secret epilogue, revealing profound truths about humanity’s place in the universe.

But did it really happen? Less than a year after the videos surfaced, a French artist named Thierry Speth5 claimed to have been behind them. He had, in his career, made sculptures strikingly similar to the Mona Lisa alien, and apparently he was found to use the “retiredafb” name on several websites. The Apollo 20 story also suffers from several logical flaws. For example:

  • It would be impossible to conceal a Saturn V launch from Vandenberg (see footnotes). Furthermore, all Saturn Vs—four billion dollars apiece—are thoroughly accounted for, with the spare rockets either used for Skylab or put on display.
  • Why didn’t they make any effort to quarantine the alien? The videos show astronauts operating on the Mona Lisa, inside the lunar module and without wearing spacesuits.
  • Why do we only see the initial overflight, a distant shot of the city, and the alien? Rutledge mentioned details about the inside of the ship, but he apparently didn’t take pictures of it.
  • Countless thousands of people worked on each Apollo flight. Someone, from the mission controllers to the ground crew to the medical technicians, would have spilled the beans at some point. Why did it stay completely secret until 2007?

It was clear all along. You see, Apollo 20 was, in fact, a hoax. Nonsense cooked up for the internet age. Not only is it wildly implausible on its own terms, the creator has come out and admitted he fabricated everything. There is no alien spacecraft on the far side of the Moon. Nothing has been covered up. This whole article, from the beginning, was a joke.

Now excuse me, while I go and deposit my latest check from NASA.

Further reading:


  1. Note the similarity between this structure and the one appearing on the left side of this image by brilliant sci-fi artist Bruce Pennington. Clearly, Pennington was psychically influenced by the Moon aliens, who inspired him to depict their architecture in his paintings. The conspiracy goes higher than I thought…
  2. It is worth noting that many tens of thousands of people live right next to Vandenberg, and a Saturn V launch is not exactly quiet. Vandenberg would also have required entirely new launch facilities and other infrastructure, similar to what they built for the Space Shuttle around that time, though the Shuttle pads were nowhere near operational in 1976. What can we conclude? First, the US government must have secretly built a new launch complex and then torn it down again, before it could appear on Google Maps; second, the nearby population was made to forget the launch through a program of mass brainwashing, probably carried out by the CIA.
  3. Wiped so thoroughly from the record that there is apparently not a trace of her to be found, except in Rutledge’s testimony. Is this 1984? Will I be expunged from history, for daring to share this forbidden knowledge? We know from Vandenberg that the CIA can erase memories; in a year’s time, will my own family even know that I existed?
  4. It must have been cramped, though. Apollo landers didn’t have much wiggle room and a fully grown alien wouldn’t have helped.
  5. Or maybe Thierry Speth was the hoax, a fake persona invented as some sort of psyop. Can we take anything for granted? Perhaps computers aren’t real, and you’re just staring at a rock because you think it’s showing you things.

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