Why Humans Have Not Returned To Moon Since 1972: If we were successful in putting human beings on the moon in the nineteen sixties, then why haven’t we taken it further and kept going back? It confounds common sense, doesn’t it?
Between the ’50s and the ’60s, landing a man on the moon seemed like the most important task for many nations, especially for the US and the USSR at that time. The goal was achieved then everything died down. Why?
Why the frenzy and the burning of taxpayers’ money if there was no long-term plan or reasons for going to the moon? In today’s articles, we’ll let you in on all the details that led to the turnout of the present event.
It has been more than 45 years since the surface of the moon was visited by humans. Yuri Gagarin had already become the first person to visit space in 1961, and then NASA’s Neil Armstrong would end up making the next big leap in 1968, becoming the first person to step on the moon.
Speculation and interest in space skyrocketed after 1968, with scientists of the USA and USSR both drawing up plans for the permanent settlement of the moon along with many advanced rocket technologies.
But we must stop for a second and consider the question: Why did this happen? Why did aerospace innovation and development at the time explode?
Roger Launius, who served as NASA’s chief historian from 1990 to 2002 and authored the recently published book “Apollo Legacy,” said in an interview. “And we haven’t had that since then.” The Soviets fired the first few salvos in this proxy war, explaining the lack of hostile competition on that scale since the 1980s, he said.
The nation launched the first satellite, Sputnik 1, in October 1957 and placed the first man, Yuri Gagarin, in space in April 1961. These shows of techno could have worried American officials, who wanted a major victory of their own.
And he believed that putting the first boot on the moon would work. It was not seen as flexing empty. The United States, among other things, wanted to show the world that the future lay with its political and economic systems, not that of its communist rival.
“The days of Apollo were not, originally, about going to the moon,” said John Logsdon, professor emeritus of political science and international affairs at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
“They were about demonstrating American global leadership in a zero-sum Cold War contest with the Soviet Union.” So, NASA got the resources needed to pull off its moon shot. And those resources were immense, about $25.8 billion for Apollo from 1960 to 1973, or about $264 billion in today’s dollars.
During the mid-1960s, NASA got about 4.5% of the federal budget, 10 times greater than its current share.
The high point of humanity’s drive into the aerospace industry following the moon landing was proven to be very short-lived, however, as the 1970s were a decade of economic downturn all across the world, even in the Soviet Union.
In 1973, Egypt launched the Yom Kippur War against Israel and the Israeli military was able to launch a decisive counter-attack that ended up in Egypt losing control of a huge chunk of its territory to Israel.
In retaliation, Egypt appealed to its Syrian ally, who attempted to help recapture some of the lands with a two-pronged attack on Israel. Then US president Richard Nixon approved a supply mission to help the Israeli Defense Forces.
This caused Egypt to appeal to its other Middle Eastern allies, and they decided to severely restrict the export of oil from their countries, led by Saudi Arabia.
While it was primarily directed at countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Netherlands, etc., it also indirectly led to trade volumes slumping and oil shortages worldwide.
It led to the US government refocusing away from the aerospace industry and as the crisis affected the Soviet Union heavily as well due to the way their economy was structured, they followed suit.
The second big reason came in 1979 as a religious hardliner clique overthrew the monarchy in Iran that also exported oil worldwide in the Islamic Revolution.
This new government of Iran decided to severely restrict oil exports, causing a repeat of the same damages caused by Saudi Arabia’s decision back in 1973.
Subsequent presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were marked by a focus on alternative energy and global service industry and general goods manufacturing, respectively, pulling away further and further cash from NASA’s budget.
The Soviet Union, on the other hand, found itself embroiled in a costly intervention in Afghanistan that lasted for one whole decade. Thus, the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991 completely took away any remaining incentive for the United States to continue spending on space technologies to outdo an enemy that suddenly became non-existent.
America’s victory in the Cold War was due to economic and social reasons. The stakes have not been nearly as high since the end of the Cold War, so subsequent moon projects have not enjoyed such continued support.
For example, the Constellation program, which took shape under President George W. Bush, was canceled by President Barack Obama in 2010. Obama instructed NASA to send astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid instead.
But President Donald Trump scrapped that plan in 2017, bringing the agency back to the moon. NASA initially set a target of 2028 for the first crewed lunar landing since the days of Apollo. But last March, Vice President Mike Pence instructed NASA to get it done by 2024.
Interest in visiting the moon again is on the rise though, and astronauts and aerospace industry managers have been claiming that reaching the moon could yield an unlimited number of benefits for Earth and the world economy.
The 2024 landing on the moon is part of a program called Artemis, which aims to build up a long-term, sustainable human presence at and around the moon.
The main goal is to lay the foundation for crewed trips to the ultimate human-spaceflight destination: Mars. NASA aims to put boots on the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s. There are still quite a lot of obstacles to be cleared though.
The main challenges facing the US and NASA are mostly related to budget and politics, unsurprisingly. A 2005 report by NASA revealed that returning to the Moon could balloon the total cost up to $104 trillion, or $133 trillion.
This figure though has been reduced greatly by advances SpaceX has been making in their rocket reusability drive. NASA’s newest designs have been adopting the best from SpaceX, and Artemis will also be launched on a low-cost SpaceX rocket.
Donald Trump had assigned an annual budget of $20 billion in March 2020, but this money will be distributed among the various projects managed by NASA. Projects such as the exploration of Mars and the outer limits of Space and the James Webb space telescope will consume a large share of the money.
Each US president has also been having management changes due to each of their research interests varying from time to time. As explored earlier, one president expresses interest in the project, but the next president slashes it.
Technical problems also need to be overcome as engineers and scientists have pointed out the presence of large amounts of dust on the moon’s surface, the possibility of overexposure to sun rays, and the icy weather on the Moon.
NASA has designed suits that resist sun and dust, but it’s unknown when these will be finished or ready for deployment. These suits are said to be a drastic improvement over the suits worn by the Apollo astronauts.
Peggy Whitson, an astronaut who lived in space for a total of 665 days, previously told Business Insider that the Apollo missions “had a lot of problems with dust.” “If we’re going to spend long durations and build permanent habitats, we have to figure out how to handle that,” Whitson said.
There’s also a problem with sunlight. For about 14 days at a time, the lunar surface is a boiling hellscape that is exposed directly to the sun’s harsh rays; the moon has no protective atmosphere.
The next 14 days are in total darkness, making the moon’s surface one of the colder places in the universe. A small nuclear reactor being developed by NASA called Kilopower could supply astronauts with electricity during weeks-long lunar nights and would be useful on other planets, including Mars. Hope for the future though, may seem bright.
Chinese presence and their new space station design have forced the current administration to slightly increase NASA’s budget and subsidize SpaceX and Blue Origin projects.
Artemis will be followed by SpaceX’s Starship’s lunar landing variant. Jeff Bezos has publicly stated that he wants to see Blue Origin develop spacecraft to go to the moon. One can only hope to see humans land on the moon once again, and it won’t be too far off.
So what do you think? Do you think we will see humans on the moon again very soon? Or do you think other aerospace technologies should be prioritized?
Thanks for reading till the end. Comment what’s your opinion about this information “Why Humans Have Not Returned To Moon Since 1972”.
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Information Source: Youtube – Futurephile