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ABC: Was The Trip To Moon Worth It?

From the all too predictable luddites at ABC News:

Apollo 11 Anniversary: Debate Continues

‘One Giant Leap’? Or a Waste of Money? Even Kennedy Was Lukewarm


July 16, 2009 — "Twelve, eleven, ten, nine…"

It was July 16, 1969, and even now, 40 years after Apollo 11 left for the moon, the argument rages.

"…three, two, one, zero, all engines running — liftoff, we have liftoff, 32 minutes past the hour, liftoff on Apollo 11, and –"

"Why are we wasting billions of dollars on the space program?" ask many visitors to ABCNews.com and other Web sites. 40 years after Neil Armstrong took that one small step on the lunar surface, NASA still provokes the same argument.

"For all the trillions of dollars we have spent on the space program, all we have are some moon rocks, several tons of space junk and a dozen and a half or so dead astronauts," wrote a person commenting on a recent story we posted about a space shuttle mission.

In fact, public opinion has always been split. In a July 1967 Harris poll, two years in advance of the first moon walk, 43 percent of Americans were in favor of the effort, 46 percent opposed — hardly a rousing endorsement. And in 1970, a year after the landing, 56 percent said it had not been worth its allotted $4 billion a year for nine years.

President John F. Kennedy, who set America on course for the moon program, spoke resoundingly in its support:

"Space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own," he said in a 1962 speech at Rice University in Houston. "Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war."

But even Kennedy was less of an enthusiast than he led the nation to believe. In a 1962 audio tape from the Oval Office, later discovered by the staff of the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, he brushed off suggestions from NASA’s then-chief, James Webb, that the space program should be about more than beating the Soviet Union to the moon.

"This is important for political reasons, international political reasons, and this is, whether we like it or not, an intensive race," Kennedy is heard saying on the tape.

"Otherwise, we shouldn’t be spending this kind of money, because I’m not that interested in space."

President Kennedy was "not that interested" in space? Every president since has found lukewarm support.

"I don’t think it’s changed particularly," said Roger Launius, a senior curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and former chief historian at NASA. Polls have consistently shown about 60 percent of the American people support the space program — though the number always drops into the 40s when people are asked about the cost.

"We like it," said Launius. "We just don’t want to pay for it."

Polls show Americans have warmed over time to the memory of Apollo. Since 1979, the number of people saying the moon landings were worth the cost has risen from 41 percent to 65. Launius says there is not organized opposition to the space program, the way there is to other efforts; there just isn’t ringing support. Millions of Americans still question Kennedy’s decision

How times have changed.

Despite the claims of this article, back in the 1960s we still believed in the United States.

It’s just a shame that the race for the US space program has never given back the same kind of benefits that we have gotten from the War On Poverty.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, July 16th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

15 Responses to “ABC: Was The Trip To Moon Worth It?”

  1. proreason says:

    Imagine how much crack could have been bought with the money the Space Program has wasted.

    This country is finally getting the priorities straight.

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    For better or worse, the trip to the Moon was the first major technological step in man’s history since the invention of the automobile and airplane. As far as exploration is concerned, there were no colonies to found, no natural resources to secure, no natives to exploit. So economically, it was a one-way deal.

    But it was necessary. If not for the expansion of a nation, then certainly for the expansion of mankind’s place in the universe. Though keenly aware of our need for correcting problems here on Earth, exploration and the seeking of knowledge cannot and must not be trumped in its place.

    Though criticisms abound about the money spent, how monumental a feat it was to have human beings actually set foot on the Moon. Even the heartiest of believers had some doubt until Neil Armstrong said the immortal words, “…One giant leap for mankind.”

    The far-reaching consequences of the technology used is also not ignored. Every time a kid plays a video game, uses a calculator or even watches TV, it’s because of the technology that grew from our reaching to the Moon. Though it probably would’ve come about anyway, it was fast-tracked because of our space program.

    Truly, since WWII, getting to the Moon demonstrated what can happen in a free-market economy with a singular goal in mind. I would feel much more satisifed if this new trillions of dollars in current debt was in use for the purpose of getting to Mars than to make a level outcome for all citizens for we would stand a far better chance of actually seeing results in the Mars mission.

    • proreason says:

      There were very good reasons to set a goal to put a man on the moon.

      – It crystalized the importance of a technology that was languishing in the US, but which had the potential to become a major military threat, as demonstrated by the Russians.
      – The goal was tangible and measurable.
      – The primary benefits were clear.
      – Many key elements of the technologies were already proven.
      – It was a rallying point that few disagreed with.
      – The “something for nothing” culture hadn’t yet emerged and the country was willing to invest in something besides drugs and sex.
      – and it wasn’t all or nothing. The country wasn’t in peril if the effort failed

      And there were tons of serendipidous inventions / technologies that resulted from the Space Program. There was probably a cost payback if everything could be accounted for.

      Now, contrast that with every one of the Moron’s fantasies.

      But of course, we know that the only goal of any of his fantasies is total power.

  3. catie says:

    I was 5 when this happened I remember my parents letting me stay up. Of course you couldn’t convince my late Aunt Lou that we went to the moon. Her and my late Uncle Eddie were determined that it was either a Hollywood soundstage or the desert in NV. Of course this is the same man who told my family at my christening that Wyatt Earp was the only US Marshall to die in bed and wouldn’t agree with anyone that perhaps he may have been the first to die in bed.
    I agree with all your key points, Pro. I think those days are gone though.

  4. VMAN says:

    The undisputed fact is that our astronauts found a colony of moon maids and after several trips to the moon negotiations broke down and the moon maids threatened us with complete and utter destruction if we came back. That being said exploration is a task for free independent men and women not a bunch of liberal moon bats reliant on government for their very existence.

  5. tranquil.night says:

    We all know the MSM likes to recycle stories to keep the nation perpetually malcontent, but 40 years is just laughable.

    This whole premise is laughable. The arguments, the conclusion.. the parallels they’re trying to draw.. the complete lack of regard for the totally obvious and factual..

    ABC: America’s Bitching Children

    Oh God.. please tell me the mothership is inbound to take all these nuts away.

    *head asplodes*

  6. U NO HOO says:


  7. Colonel1961 says:

    I dare anyone to make it through a day without using technology directly or indirectly spun-off from space exploration…

    I may not agree with the Constellation program (a re-do of Apollo, in my humble opinion) but there are a few benefits: exceptionally efficient solar arrays, just to name one. And I ain’t no tree-hugger.

    Lastly, NASA is about 1% of our Federal Budget – what other program (other than DoD) provides such much bang for so little cost?

  8. Colonel1961 says:

    Oh, and to the miscreant whining that we spend ‘trillions of dollars’ on space, the actual cumulative figure (escalated to FY09) is about $500 billion…

    • proreason says:

      or about 10 billion inflation-adjusted dollars a year.

      Which is about $30 per citizen per year.

      Less than a video game.

      It was worth it just for Tang.

    • Colonel1961 says:

      Yeah – Tang!

  9. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Newly released photos of the Moon landings: http://stuffucanuse.com/fake_moon_landings/moon_landings.htm

  10. U NO HOO says:

    FYI, Mythbusters proved we went to the moon…yyyaaawwwnnn…

    Oh yeah, did Edmund Hillary really go to the top of Mt. Everest?

  11. pdsand says:

    The sad difference is that the 40 or so percent who opposed spending the money on NASA back in the 60s were probably conservatives opposed simply on the grounds of government spending. The people who oppose it today are liberals who say the money would be better spent providing crack to the disadvantaged.

  12. Reality Bytes says:

    RB was 12. I had a Tasco scope that I took photos of the moon, sun & eclipses. Huge Space travel fan (without the trekie crap – though Kirk did get fine alien tail every week). And Guess where my parents put me during that week 40 years ago. IN A FREAKIN’ BOY SCOUT CAMP WITHOUT ANY TV THAT WOULD HAVE MAD AUSCHWITZ LOOK LIKE THE 4 FREAKIN’ SEASONS!! I MISSED THE WHOLE THING!!!

    OK – I’m better. RB Tini time. Gotta go.

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