I have become slightly preoccupied with the moon – more accurately humans going to and then not going to the moon. It has something to do with this book.
I knew the moon landing was a big thing. I’m old enough for it to be something that was a cultural touchpoint commonly referred to. I get the feeling it’s not something someone who is sixteen now would really think about.
What happened? We went to the moon. We did it a few times like 40 years ago and then stopped. That’s weird isn’t it? That’s a long time ago to have done something impressive. And impressive to have got bored of it so quickly.
Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt walked on the moon in December 1972 (42 years ago math fans), becoming the 11th and 12th men (natch that women weren’t in the dozen) to have walked on the moon. There are eight left alive. The number has only changed because they died – rather than it escalating.
The technology used to get those twelve people to the moon could be handled by an iPhone. So why no more moon walkie make-y?
It was fucking expensive. For a few years 5% of America’s GDP was on the space budget. That’s one dollar out of every twenty going on NASA. That’s a lot of dollars not going on other things. No wonder they got bored of it. It’s one thing spending 5% of your budget on propaganda. It’s another thing spending it on scientific research. Ewwwww.
Even if comparatively it wouldn’t be THAT expensive it would still be pretty fucking expensive. It cost a private businessman about fifteen million dollars to get to the International Space Station via the Russians (but they even let women on there! So, it’s hardly a proper thing). But it’s no moon trip.
It’s also pretty dangerous. The human race got a lot more risk-averse. The risks back with the moon missions were pretty high. And people did die. Probably more of them should have done, there were a few close shaves.
Nowadays governments don’t risk lots of money on things that won’t work to the extent that people will die in its failure. Unless it’s like war to support oil or something. (Yeah, I got them politi-claws out.)
It wasn’t about getting to the moon. It was about getting there before the Russians. All the good for mankind stuff was convenient by-product. Beating the commies at getting a man on the moon – the Russians had reached the moon with an unmanned craft years earlier – was what it was all about.
As soon as the glitter of that moondust on Neil Armstrong faded they started paying more attention to the billions of pounds it was costing.
And the people didn’t really care that they government stop caring. There were complaints about a TV station breaking from its intended broadcast with a newsflash about a rocket maybe not working out and the crew dying. PEOPLE COMPLAINED ABOUT THE TV SHOW BEING INTERRUPTED. And that was before the moon landing, it was still all new and exciting.
Sure there were other things going on, wars and presidents getting impeached and other things. But six successful missions to the moon is all it took for it to become passé. Twelve white men and we’re done as a species in that path of discovery.
But hello….someone else could still do with going if you ask me. Hello China? Qatar?India? Anyone?
Give us all a nice achievement for the species. Hollywood? Instead of spending a few hundred million recreating it why not reboot the actual space stuff. Get Spielberg in to direct it. Send Gosling up. Boom. It’s the reality film crossover hit of the millenium. It’s pretty much Gravity..they just need something like Gosling’s character to find the cure to AIDS on the moon or something. It writes itself.