Did the Moon Get Boring?

Fifty years ago we were quite in the rush to get to the Moon. In fact, we spent a good deal of effort and money trying to get there; however, we haven't attempted traveling to the moon in years. Why is that? Why is it that something that we were once so obsessed over has not became relatively mundane and unimportant? I'd argue that the the first trip to the moon was a mere diversion. I'd argue that our trip to the moon wasn't about the excitement of exploration, but simply another race against the Soviet Union.

I don't think most people realize how ridiculously difficult it is to get to the moon. It's far more difficult than obtaining an Earth orbit, and there is relatively little to gain once you've gotten to the moon, outside of researching the moon itself and the claim that you indeed did get there. It's not as if there's some humongous fiscal advantage if you get there first. The United States cannot claim the territory of the moon. The moon did not and will not become the 51st state.

The race to arrive on the surface of the moon seems to have been mostly driven by the desire to gain ground over the Soviet Union, and, for that matter, I'd argue that the only reason we stopped at one trip is that both the US and the USSR feared the inevitable escalation that would happen if things kept progressing in space. There was considerable fear that nuclear weapons would make their way into space, and such an escalation was something that I doubt either the US or the USSR desired.

Maybe I'm simply too unenthusiastic and biased to completely grasp the awe and wonder that the first moon landing incited. Maybe the moon landing was simply something that one had to be alive during that time to truly appreciate, but I don't understand it. I guess, to me, and perhaps to my entire generation, trying to visit the moon has always been boring. Perhaps it feels a little too easy anymore.

Comment Stream

2 years ago
0

I would agree that our primary motivator for getting to the moon first was bragging rights, but the return on the investment was much more than just that. The path to get there pulled our nation together, even if it was driven by a common enemy vice high minded scientific goals.

Americans need a reason to see beyond their daily life and catch a glimpse of their place in the bigger picture of America. Larger than life national pursuits give us that. We are increasingly a nation of individuals, which is a shame since we are stronger when we join together.

2 years ago
0

Perhaps, but I'd argue back that that the billions required to land on the moon again could be better spent on the Earth for just as emotionally gratifying ends. How about feed every child in the US, once a day, for an entire year? Increased college scholarship and funding? The list can go on.

I wouldn't say that, at least currently, we're running out of things that could bring purpose to our lives as a nation. There's plenty of problems that we face here that might equally merit our attention and provide the same inspiration.

My two cents.

2 years ago
0

There is something, though, about the idea that contemplating the wonders of space -- of which walking on the moon represents a subset of that larger wonder -- is supposed to be a signal achievement of how science can fuse old-fashioned awe at the idea of magical powers and real-world facts and proof. And so, if we prefer to spend time thrilling to dragons and quests for magic rings and so forth instead of being inspired to wonder by imagining space quests, that we are somehow not living up to our true potential in the modern world (looking forward rather than backward). But I am curious about how thrilling space was back in the day, or if it was more of a public relations media-generated enthusiasm? I think it is important to figure that out, in order to understand science in popular culture better.