Is fact-checking about go out of this world?
A proposed Russian mission to the moon will apparently include a task to verify that the American moon landings were actually real, a top Russian space official joked Saturday.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, was responding to a question at an event about whether or not NASA actually landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago when he made the remark, the Associated Press reported.
"We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they've been there or not," Rogozin said in a video posted Saturday on Twitter.
The Russian agency head appeared to be joking, smirking and shrugging while answering the question. But conspiracies surrounding NASA's moon missions are common in Russia.
The Soviet Union abandoned its lunar program in the mid-1970s after four experimental moon rockets exploded.
In 2015, a former spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee called for an investigation into NASA moon landings. Vladimir Markin penned in an Op-Ed at the time that an investigation could reveal new insights into the landings between 1969 and 1972.
In a Moscow Times translation of the Op-Ed, Markin claimed that an international probe could explain the disappearance of film footage from the original moon landing in 1969 and the whereabouts of lunar rock that has been brought back to Earth.
"We are not contending that they did not fly [to the moon], and simply made a film about it. But all of these scientific — or perhaps cultural — artifacts are part of the legacy of humanity, and their disappearance without a trace is our common loss. An investigation will reveal what happened," he wrote, according to the Moscow Times.
NASA admitted in 2009 that the original recordings of the first moon landing were erased and re-used, but released restored copies of the original broadcast of the landing, Reuters reported at the time. Officials said that tapes were re-used to save money and that the goal at the time of the landings was for a live broadcast.
Conspiracy theories, however, have continued to pop up since man first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to ever set foot on the lunar surface.
Last year, a new theory emerged on YouTube that the last moon landing, one from Apollo 17, was staged, despite insurmountable evidence to the contrary. A user claimed in a video that a reflection of a stagehand was visible on the helmet of one of the astronauts, which drew split reaction in comments on the video.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.