At the end of July this year, the world community, who is not indifferent to the topic of space research, celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the landing of a man on the moon. But are flights to the moon that were carried out in the late 60s and early 70s so important for the space sphere and just for ordinary people? Let's talk about what would happen if we were in an alternative reality in which a person never visited the Earth’s satellite. What would change?
The rivalry between the USA and the USSR provided the two countries with the opportunity to demonstrate their superiority not only in the military sphere, but also in scientific and technical. Under no circumstances did the US government want to lose to the Soviets on space exploration. But how could one overtake a country that first launched an artificial satellite into space, then a man, and then the first to softly land a spacecraft on the lunar surface? The USSR surpassed the USA in the development of the space sphere in everything. The answer to the Communists was to be unambiguous, showing America's absolute superiority in space.
1 Why the United States could abandon the lunar program
2 The program of preparation for flights to the moon could be canceled after it began
3 Why the USA won the lunar program
4 Why flights to the moon were important to humanity
Why the United States could abandon the lunar program
The active preparation of Americans for flights to the moon began with the famous speech of US President John F. Kennedy, delivered to the American people on September 12, 1962. Prior to Kennedy, the country was ruled by Dwight Eisenhower, who left his post in January of that year. Eisenhower initially strongly supported NASA, the space agency founded in 1958. However, already in the 60s, he constantly complained that NASA was wasting huge money. The Cold War with the USSR was in full swing. At Kennedy's place, Eisenhower would hardly have supported the beginning and development of a program for manned flights to the Earth’s satellite. He believed that money should be spent on developing new types of weapons.
The program of preparation for flights to the moon could be canceled after it began
Such a possibility also existed. Opinion polls in the United States in the early 60s showed that American society saw the Soviet Union as the leader in the space race. American astronauts began to make their first flights to low Earth orbit in the year 65. And people's opinions began to change. But at this point, the country was ruled by Lyndon Johnson, who took over as head of the United States after the tragic death of Kennedy.
The first flight of Americans into space. Astronauts White and McDivitt Inside the Gemini 4 Spaceship
The development of the Apollo program took a huge pile of money from the country's budget. For example, the cost of the Apollo 11 mission sent to the moon in 1961 amounted to about $ 400 million. And the total cost of the Apollo program, which was carried out from 1969 to 1972, is estimated today at $ 25 billion. Given inflation, it is more than 160 billion dollars. Historians agree that Johnson could cancel a very expensive lunar program, since it clearly interfered with his social policies aimed at economic growth and the fight against poverty. Fortunately, Johnson decided to continue the Apollo program in memory of former President Kennedy.
Why the USA won the lunar program
By 1974, when the Americans had already completed six successful moon landings, the USSR was still testing its own rocket, which was supposed to send Soviet astronauts to Earth’s satellite. But all of these tests failed. Realizing its defeat, the USSR eventually closed the lunar program.
Read on: Why did the cosmonauts of the USSR not fly to the moon?
According to NASA chief historian Roger Launis, in a conversation with one of the Soviet engineers who participated in the development of the Soviet lunar program, he admitted that in the USSR, the success of the first landing on the moon was perceived as simple luck. But after the successful completion of the mission of the second landing on the satellite of the spacecraft with people, it became clear that America could not be caught up in the lunar program. In the technological capabilities of the USSR, by that time it was already hopelessly behind.
Why flights to the moon were important to humanity
And yet, what was the significance of manned flights to the moon? In preparation for the Apollo space program, NASA collaborated with many private companies. Thanks to the huge financial support, they developed new technologies without which manned flights to the moon would have been impossible. For example, the development of compact computers was of great importance. Progress in miniaturization of electronics has led to the fact that powerful computers today can fit in our hands. Many of the technologies created for the first space flights formed the basis for the development of useful things that people use today in everyday life.
See also: 10 everyday things that have changed due to flights into space
Would these things appear with us if there were no Apollo program and no one flew to the moon? Yes. Only to create them would most likely take more time. And they would probably look quite different.
Manned flight to the moon has proven that humans are able to explore space. The success of the Americans has become an incentive for the further development of new and no less ambitious space programs around the world. We started building space satellites and orbiting space stations. Regularly send people to Earth’s orbit to conduct various scientific experiments and test various new technologies. What for? We began to dream in space. Look at the sky and wonder if life can exist elsewhere, and not just on our blue ball.
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