DOVER, England -- Man's conquest of the moon could finally mean the death knell for a tiny band which since Queen Victoria's day has maintained the earth is flat.
The space achievements of American astronauts have so far failed to change the beliefs of the International Flat Earth Research Society, which holds they have only been circling around over a flat surface instead of zooming thousands of miles into deep space.
"What happens up there on the moon doesn't really concern us," said Samuel Shenton, the 65-year-old founder of the society and its secretary-spokesman. "We're more interested in the earth - the flat earth."
Might the Apollo 11 astronauts who set foot on the lunar surface be able to confirm the society's contention from their moonspace vantage point?
"Let's see what happens," Shenton said. "It's a great effort by the American chaps but it would be wrong to speculate what might result."
Shenton's world resembles huge pit. The bottom of the earth, absolutely flat and motionless and shaped like a dinner plate. Above the earth, but still in the pit, the moon and the sun zip about. Both are only about 32 miles across, he maintain.
"Science cannot shout us down," Shenton said in 1961. "Today he hesitates to be so specific, but says, "It doesn't really matter what's up there, it's all relative to the earth."