in which he appears to take back the results of his years of scientific research experiments
This hand written sentence on a letter is not how scientists publish their experiments and conclusions. They publish them in peer reviewed scientific journals with supporting detail. He was under considerable pressure to go along with the official story. There are no scientific experiments, by Dr. Van Allen or anyone, which prove the Van Allen Belts to be safe to go through. As a true scientist he would have published such results, and it would been noticed by the scientific community. Until then, his studies, and the replications of his experiments, withstand the test of time, in accordance with the scientific method.
Dr. Van Allen simply stated that the quotation was correct, not that his years of experiments were all erroneous. Technically, he correctly stated that the Apollo astronauts were never in danger of fatal radiation.... because he knew they never left Earth orbit. He told the truth, while maintaining the official story. Neither Dr. Van Allen nor any of his relatives died suspiciously.
My question to you, Professor Van Allen, is this. I have read that you have "denounced" the conspiracy theorists' claims that radiation in the Van Allen belts would have killed the astronauts. I have also seen a quote from you about what utter nonsense the Fox special was. Could you please, if possible, point me to any sources in print or on the web where you have been extensively quoted? If there are none that you know of, and it wouldn't be too much trouble, I would appreciate it if you could reply with a brief statement on the subject. In all my recent studies about the moon-conspiracy theories, the cornerstone of most arguments appears to be that radiation is what makes interplanetary space travel impossible. I feel that there is no person better qualified to debunk this absurd claim (and no one more likely to be taken seriously) than you. Of course, some conspiracists will say that you are in on the conspiracy yourself, but we can never hope actually to convince them.
Professor Van Allen's response:
Dear Mr. Lambert,
In reply to your e-mail, I send you the following copy of a response that I wrote to another inquiry about 2 months ago --
* The radiation belts of the Earth do, indeed, pose important constraints on the safety of human space flight.
* The very energetic (tens to hundreds of MeV) protons in the inner radiation belt are the most dangerous and most difficult to shield against. Specifically, prolonged flights (i.e., ones of many months' duration) of humans or other animals in orbits about the Earth must be conducted at altitudes less than about 250 miles in order to avoid significant radiation exposure.
* A person in the cabin of a space shuttle in a circular equatorial orbit in the most intense region of the inner radiation belt, at an altitude of about 1000 miles, would be subjected to a fatal dosage of radiation in about one week.
* However, the outbound and inbound trajectories of the Apollo spacecraft cut through the outer portions of the inner belt and because of their high speed spent only about 15 minutes in traversing the region and less than 2 hours in traversing the much less penetrating radiation in the outer radiation belt. The resulting radiation exposure for the round trip was less than 1% of a fatal dosage - a very minor risk among the far greater other risks of such flights. I made such estimates in the early 1960s and so informed NASA engineers who were planning the Apollo flights. These estimates are still reliable.
* The recent Fox TV show, which I saw, is an ingenious and entertaining assemblage of nonsense. The claim that radiation exposure during the Apollo missions would have been fatal to the astronauts is only one example of such nonsense.
James A. Van Allen
James Van Allen