NASA cancelled the Apollo 20 mission in January 1970. But in 2007, an amazing story about Apollo 20 mission started circulating in the form of several YouTube videos. According to videos, Apollo 20 was a manned lunar mission whose purpose was to retrieve ancient, alien artifacts and a hibernating, humanoid alien called Mona Lisa from the moon.
Videos also claimed the mission was performed by a joint Russian-American crew. The crew included astronauts William Rutledge, Leona Snyder and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. At some point, it was believed that astronaut Rutledge was the one who leaked the amazing story and videos online. In reality, astronaut Rutledge is not a real person, but an alias of the artist behind this weird story.
Here’s one soundless copy of the original video on YouTube. The original videos went viral quite fast and so did the copies. This copy has been watched over 500,000 times, but overall various versions of the videos have gathered tens of millions of views.
French artist Thierry Speth claimed to be the creator of the fictional Apollo 20 story on 9th of July, 2007. As it turns out, that is very likely true. However, many people didn’t initially believe Speth’s claims. Many people still don’t, or do not even know who Thierry Speth is.
TikTok has given a new life to the fictional Apollo 20 story. A lot of clips are being posted, shared and remixed. Some of the TikTok videos are viral. Based on the video comments, many TikTok users seem to believe the story is true.
Original videos debunked
There has been many valid debunks of the original videos, but most of the early fact check videos and websites are now gone. Here’s one archived example from Italian CUN National UFO Center – Triveneto Section (in Italian): Fake a video of Apollo 20. Note that this debunk is in three parts. The first and last part are PDF documents.
All technical debunks came to same conclusions: videos are not authentic footage from space or moon. They were made using computer graphics, special effects and sculptures. There were also non-technical debunks concentrating on the alleged crew members and things like the mission badge. Findings were clear: the story was fully fabricated.
Italian ufologist Luca Scantamburlo allegedly interviewed one of the astronauts, William Rutledge in May 2007. This alleged interview happened via Yahoo Messenger. Interview was probably considered as evidence by some people. It is unclear if the interview was real or did some person impersonate the non-existing astronaut William Rutledge.
Scantamburlo also published a book called “Apollo 20. The Disclosure” (2010). I haven’t read this book so I don’t know if it contains any facts from various debunks that existed at the time of publishing.
Rest of this article concentrates on the artist who is behind the Apollo 20 story: Thierry Speth. The interview, a book and various information available online points to one conclusion: Speth made the original videos.
Thierry Speth interview, 2017
Weirdly enough, it took 10 years before anyone interviewed Thierry Speth. This one hour interview by Chad Baxter contains background information about the Apollo 20 story, how the video effects and props were made – including the mask of “Mona Lisa”, alleged alien humanoid.
Thierry Speth’s book and Facebook group
Thierry Speth published a book “Apollo 20, the Unknown Mission: Memories of the Commander of the mission, William Rutledge (Apollo 19, 20 and 21)” in 2017. It’s available on e.g. Amazon. The book is based on the original story from 2007, and it is labelled as science-fiction.
Speth also created a Facebook page for the book. Facebook posts by the author indicate they indeed made the original videos in 2007. Speth also made new videos for the book and published never seen footage and photos.
Speth seems to be a passionate fan of science-fiction and Apollo missions. According to Speth’s homepage archive, they built a full size space simulator in 2004-2005. This project included full-scale cockpit panels and simulator software. It is likely that parts of this simulator were used in the Apollo 20 videos.
Speth’s name came up early when they confessed to be the artist behind the Apollo 20 story. Fact checks were clear: the story isn’t true. Videos are not authentic. But the original story kept going regardless, and it still does. But if you listen to Speth’s interview, check their Facebook posts and some of the older debunks, it should be clear that Speth’s claim from 2007 is true: they made the Apollo 20 videos.
Videos are not real so clearly someone had to made them. That required a lot of work using self-made Apollo props, clothing, software, video editing etc. Speth is the only known person who had the means, motivation and materials to create the original Apollo 20 videos.