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The Moon Landing: Was It Worth It?

1788 words - 7 pages

Calum WrightA.P. American StudiesVece Pd. 16.12.14The Apollo 11 Moon Landing: Was It Worth It?On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy stood before Congress to deliver a special message on "urgent national needs." He stated to Congress, "This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." This decision required tremendous expenditure and effort in order to make it a reality by the end of the 1960's. NASA had to overcome a number of major setbacks, including failures and two changes in the Presidency. It took the entire decade, but they pulled it off, and on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to set foot on the moon. People all over the nation cheered and celebrated the success of our country. The question is, however, if the moon landing was worth all the effort and cost. There are many reasons why the moon landing was a necessary exercise, but there are also many issues that need addressing.The biggest issue with the space race was the cost. The US space effort cost the U.S. government billions of dollars. NASA spent about $23 billion on manned programs from 1961 through the first lunar landing in July 1969 (NASA.gov). The Mercury space programs cost NASA around $400 million, the Gemini programs cost $1.3 billion, and the Apollo programs cost $21.3 billion. At the time, large-scale government spending and the constraints of the international monetary system resulted in domestic inflation. As the government struggled to slow inflation and stabilize the economy, optimism disintegrated as the dollar lost stability and inflation took a firm hold. Spending upwards of $23 billion on space programs definitely contributed to the downward curve of the economy. The Apollo space programs were cancelled in 1972 because the federal government believed funding them was a waste of resources. Do they have a point?Another major factor in deciding if the moon landing was a smart use of resources is by evaluating another cost of the Apollo missions. On January 27, 1967, during a test on the launch pad, a fire erupted in the Apollo 1 command module during a test on the launch pad, destroying the module and killing astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward H. White, the first American to walk in space, and Roger B. Chaffee. In order to make the spacecrafts safer, NASA and the companies building the Apollo spacecraft got to work. The flammable oxygen environment for ground tests was replaced with a nitrogen-oxygen mix. Flammable items were removed. Most notably, the door was completely redesigned so that it would open in a few seconds when the crew needed to get out quickly. NASA acknowledged that what happened to the Apollo 1 crew could have been prevented before a tragedy ever occurred. It serves as a tough lesson for space-goers to remember.The moon landing of 1969 was also a major topic of discussion amongst...

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