Because DoD already had plenty of evidence that there was something on the moon that was at least highly infectious/contagious? Why bother with the expense and risk of getting the film back if their fears were confirmed?
There's plenty of reason to go back and secure the footage. The footage could provide further insight and understanding into the way the aliens operate. You can bet that the DoD would want every possible scrap of data they could get on any form of alien life and analyze it extensively.
Plus the cameras would either be in lunar orbit or scattered across a good chunk of the lunar surface, needing WAY more time and manpower to search. WMG says that the Autobots brought the tapes.
Alternate explanation: the wreckage and tapes never fell back to the lunar surface, and instead remained in orbit. One of the unmanned probes sent to the Moon since (Clementine, for instance) recovered the tapes and brought them back. True, Clementine supposedly didn't return, but, you know, Government Conspiracy and all.
The film-website/viral marketing site missioncontrolblog.org suggests that there were indeed Apollo 19 & Apollo 20 missions; Apollo 19 was successful and brought back "materials".
Which begs the question of why they went back there if they knew there were aliens on the moon.
How do we know that everything wasn't being broadcasted to earth (and recorded there) in the first place?
It clearly was. After the flag vanishes, Walker asks Mission Control if they saw anything "on the Westinghouse" during the night. That would only be possible if the cameras were transmitting to Earth. Also, it makes sense to collect all your images by live feed when any of a million small malfunctions could prevent the ship from making it home.
Why even send humans up there to die if you already know it's dangerous and/or infectious? The entire Apollo program cost the US at least $25 billion in 1960s dollars-That's around $3.6 billion per mission. We spent $3.6 billion and killed three good astronauts just to confirm something we already knew? The Viking missions to Mars were launched in 1975-One year after this film's date. Would it really have been that difficult to send up a few landers to scan with radar or emit heat to attract the moon spiders?
this just raises the question of why Ben and Nathan took the physical tapes with them when escaping.
It's likely all they knew was that the lone cosmonaut on the Moon died shortly after radioing back to the Soviets that there was some kind of life form there. Now, did the cosmonaut die because of the creature or couldn't return due to equipment malfunction? Is it intelligent life that could be using the Moon as a base for a future invasion or just mindless critters? Did the cosmonaut just snap and go crazy all alone on the Moon and there were no aliens at all? These are important questions that are probably worth a few billion dollars to answer.
Why didn't the aliens attack the other Apollo missions if some of the rocks they brought back were aliens?
They only implied the Moon rocks brought back were aliens. It could be they were just rocks and really were stolen by the superpowers after what happened to Apollo 18 just to be safe. Alternately, the safety procedures on the other Apollo missions were more stringent and prevented the creatures from escaping the collection containers. This mission had deliberately lax sample storage so the Department of Defense could see what would happen.
The aliens might not be found on the entire moon, just the south pole. None of the Real Life lunar landings came anywhere near there.
Are the aliens native to the moon? Are they from another world? The latter seems to be the best answer given that there aren't a lot of humans on the moon to plant your eggs in. So how'd they get there?
Panspermia. It's stated at one point in the film that the aliens seem to be originating from an impact crater. Maybe that's where they landed.
Why make a clandestine space mission with commemorative patches?!
They made mission patches for the SR-71 pilots back when it was still classified. It probably improves morale for the astronauts too, and it might've seemed particularly odd if they didn't get them; almost as though they wouldn't be coming back...
How the hell do you cover up a SATURN V ROCKET LAUNCH? That thing is the biggest, most powerful launch vehicle ever built. You can feel tremors from 20 miles away when it launches. Even if you launched it at night you couldn't hide it.
The launch itself was not covered up. It is explicitly stated in the film: "I think the way it's being explained is: They're using a Saturn V to launch a DoD payload. It's meant to be very large; very heavy, and apparently unmanned."
Just one problem: Using a Saturn V rocket for an unmanned mission to the moon would have been seen as a waste of resources given that, unlike the Apollo missions, you don't have to worry about getting your payload back home. The whole reason for the size and power of the Saturn Vs was so that they could get human astronauts and all their support equipment and gear to the moon and back within two weeks. To use such a massive rocket to get a rover or unmanned lander onto the moon would be extremely suspicious.
For starters, public information in 1974 on the exact capabilities of the Saturn V was not half as comprehensive as what we have now, forty years later. To the general public not sitting in mission control or the assembly building, a ridiculous-large Do D payload (corresponding with the huge military buildup of the same period) would be more than acceptable.
For what it's worth, the viral marketing materials on the website for the movie do attempt to handwave this a little better. Apparently the Saturn 5 for Apollo 18 was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and literally in the middle of the night. It's still not a perfect coverup (not to mention that a Saturn 5 night launch is considerably bright), but given what we're told in the film it does work a little bit better.
If the moon rocks brought back are space spiders, how the hell have they gone unnoticed? The infection is EXTREMELY obvious to anyone with eyes that something is wrong with those people. Hell, even blind people could probably tell there's a difference in the way the infected are acting. Especially with people in power, those acting suspiciously would be caught in seconds.
In addition, I don't think people bursting into swarms of gray spiders would go unnoticed. Either there's a limited amount of time before the aliens consume their host and burst out of them, or they just chose to burst out of Nate's face because it didn't look like they were getting aboard the lunar lander. Which was it?
The creatures might be anaerobic and can only survive in an atmosphere for a limited amount of time. Once they're on Earth they wouldn't have long to live. As for Nate, I thought he was never fully taken over by the creatures and was genuinely concerned about the fate of Earth once he realized there were rock spiders in the Soviet lander. The exploding head bit might've just been because he was moving around too much and the aliens didn't like that.
Again, it may only be the lunar south pole that's infested with alien spiders. Rocks retrieved from previous Apollo landing sites are just rocks, although the authorities are paranoid enough that rumors to the contrary start spreading through NASA.
How did the astronaut get the space spider inside him? Either he'd notice that there's a ROCK in his suit before hand, or it would have to puncture through his suit. Which would result in severe frostbite, hypothermia, and possibly suffocation since the air would be escaping and the other guy would have to carry him in instead of simply helping him to walk.
Humans can survive for a minute or two in a vacuum but it would result in a very severe case of the bends and swelling of your inner tissues. If you were holding your breath you might damage your lungs or your eardrums might rupture, but otherwise, as long as you got back into your ship within a minute or two you'd probably be fine. That's not what we saw though.
I think the implication is that the rock that "escaped" the specimen bag and had to be replaced (during the scene which highlighted it), turned back into a moonspider and hid in the astronaut's EVA suit. So, essentially, it was in there when he put it on before he went onto the surface to mess with the Rover.
But then he would still notice that there's a ROCK in his suit. The astronaut's clothes are, if what I saw was right, basically a form of skin-tight jumpsuit thing. If you put on any part of the suit, the moonspider would be felt and he would, theoretically at least, take off the suit to toss the rock out like anyone would do if they got a rock in their shoe or to that effect. As he was suiting up, he would almost surely feel it.
Who the hell checks their boots for snakes on the moon?
It's not so much as checking the boots. It's more like putting on a shoe with a rock in it. even if it's flat and not sharp at all, you're still know something potentially irratating is in your shoe.
It could have attached itself to the inside of his helmet.
The aliens are smart enough to tear up a communications system on a Lunar Lander without destroying anything else and to take over a guy to bust into a lander as it's taking off, but dumb enough to not simply keep quiet and hidden as rocks while on the way back to Earth?
Maybe that's what the aliens brought back from previous Apollo missions meant to do (since the closing blurb implies they're just now becoming active), and the ones in this movie were getting impatient since their bros were leaving them behind.
Or alternatively they didn't want their kind being kidnapped. The attack on the landers seemed to be to stop them from launching as opposed to trying to board and use them to invade Earth.
I thought it was made pretty clear that the aliens communicate via radio transmission. They were likely disturbed by the communication equipment and thus destroyed it. As for the astronaut, I thought they never fully possessed him and he was trying to keep the creatures from returning to Earth and infecting the rest of us.
If the whole point of the mission was to find the aliens, what was the point of keeping it a secret from the astronauts? They were clearly going to discover the truth in time, the secrecy just meant they would be caught off guard when it happened.
"Hey, something is killing cosmonauts on the moon. Fly up there with no weapons and find out what it is. No, it's not a complete suicide mission: the pilot will still be in orbit around the moon. He'll be totally safe, unless someone messes up the docking protocols or something. By the way, the cosmonaut said something about the rocks up there, but we aren't sure what he means." Even the most experienced astronauts would have backed out of that mission in the 1970s. Besides, the more people that know about a secret (in this case, parasites that can live on the moon, look like rocks, and can turn a human into a puppet), the higher chance there is of a leak, accidental or otherwise.