© HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty ImagesAstronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 mission commander, at the modular equipment storage assembly (MESA) of the Lunar Module Eagle on the historic first extravehicular activity (EVA) on the moon, July 20, 1969
Lunar soil samples shared with Soviet scientists are key evidence, according to the chief of the Russian space agency.

The head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency has weighed in on conspiracy theories surrounding the US Moon landings, insisting that there is no doubt that soil samples retrieved by the Americans during their Apollo missions actually came from the lunar surface.

Roscosmos chief Yury Borisov was questioned about whether American astronauts had actually landed on the Moon during a parliamentary session on Wednesday. The key piece of evidence that the Apollo missions were real, according to Borisov, is the fact that NASA shared soil samples from several manned flights with its Soviet colleagues.

"According to the expertise of our Academy of Sciences, the lunar soil turned out to be lunar indeed," Borisov reassured lawmakers, insisting that the samples were analyzed in numerous countries, not just the USSR.

The previous head of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, was far more skeptical about the Apollo missions, saying that while many in Roscosmos defended Washington's version of events, no conclusive proof was ever presented to him. According to Rogozin, several unnamed academics even angrily criticized him for complicating international relations and undermining the "sacred cooperation with NASA."

Despite all the US missions being closely monitored by its space rival, the USSR, skeptics have questioned the authenticity of the Apollo program ever since astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon on July 21, 1969. Conspiracy theorists claim that the Moon landings were actually staged by NASA, which needed to quickly respond to the Soviets after they sent the first man, Yury Gagarin, into space on April 12, 1961.

Many of the arguments have been debunked over the years, but between 5 and 20% of Americans still believe their country's lunar program to have been nothing but a hoax, according to various polls.

In Russia, a survey by the Public Opinion Research Center (WCIOM) in 2020 found that almost 50% of the population think that the US government "falsified" the Apollo expeditions, with just 31% absolutely certain that American astronauts actually walked on the surface of Earth's satellite.

The US stopped sending landers to the Moon after the Apollo 17 mission concluded in December 1972.

Earlier this year, a US-made spacecraft touched down on the Moon for the first time in more than half a century, marking what NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called "the US return to the Moon." However, NASA's Artemis program has suffered numerous delays over the years, with the return of American astronauts on the Moon now expected no earlier than 2026.