10 Reasons Why Mankind Has Not Walked on the Moon in 50 Years
Next week mark's the 50th anniversary of the final lunar mission that placed mankind on the moon. When will we return?
Space travel. It's the most thrilling, most dangerous, most adventurous endeavor mankind has ever undertaken. At the time, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, it seemed we would soon be making regular trips to the moon and beyond. Private enterprise would sprout on the lunar surface. John and Jane could easily stop at a Starbucks in Mare Tranquillitatis on their way to their vacation at Mare Serenitatis.
Yet here we are, half a century after the final Apollo mission that placed a man on the moon, and we've gone nowhere. There have been many attempts by multiple nations - including China, India, Japan, Russia, the European Union, and, of course, the United States, yet none have been able to come close to replicating what the U.S. did in eight short years with primitive technology that would be put to shame by what we easily carry around in our pockets today.
Why not? It seems so perplexing. Humankind seems destined for the stars, yet we are doing so little to get there. NASA's Artemis missions seem to place us as close as we've been since that last Apollo mission, yet all it takes is a new presidential administration to come in and decide it's no longer a priority and kill it.
1. The United States has resisted introducing private enterprise to space travel.
While NASA has found itself relying more on the likes of Space X in recent years, thanks to its inept handling of the Space Shuttle retirement over a decade ago, by and large NASA has used private enterprise only to help build their ships - leaving the rest of the work to the government agency. Opening up the moon to entrepreneurs who would attract visitors would help us return to the moon and open up regular travel there.
2. We're overthinking it.
The mission was clear: Land a man on the moon and safely return him before the end of the decade. That was the decree put forth by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, and sure enough, we did it. We were cavemen playing with sticks and stones back then compared to the technology we have at our disposal now, yet we can't seem to put it together to go back. Why? Because we're overcomplicating the technology. Granted we don't want to return to using 1960s technology. But, surely if we could do it then by basically duct-taping a calculator to a rocket ship we can figure out a solid way in short order to return to the moon with what we have at our disposal now.
3. Elon, Bezos, and Branson are working independently on private solutions rather than working together.
How powerful would it be if Space X, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic combined forces to return humans to the moon?
4. There is not enough political will.
In the U.S., it always makes for a good speech when a president comes out talking about how we are going to return to the moon. Yet, when it comes down to supportive legislation, Congress tears it apart and no president pushes enough to make it happen.
5. Countries find it difficult to justify the cost.
Part of the reason there is little political will is because of the cost. There are far too many interest groups more than willing to influence politicians to focus on their pet interests rather than shuttle funds to a moon adventure.
6. Countries are deeply in debt.
Related to justifying the cost, many countries - certainly the U.S. - keep going further into debt, making it even less palatable to assign billions of dollars to a space program.
7. There is an obsession with climate change over space travel.
This started with Obama (and to a lesser degree now with Biden) when he gutted the Constellation program - which, if it had continued, would have had us back on the moon by now. His administration decided NASA should focus on climate change over space travel (except for a long-shot program to take us to Mars that has gone nowhere).
I'm not anti-climate change. But the man who famously said we can "walk and chew gum at the same time" apparently didn't think NASA could do that. Again, no political will.
8. We lack the motivating competition that existed between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R in the 1960s.
It's unlikely we could ever replicate the life-and-death competition that existed between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the 1960s that manifested itself in the space race.
9. Countries interested in returning to the moon aren't working together.
Just as I suggested with private enterprise, how powerful would it be if India, Japan, China, the EU, the U.S., and god forbid even Russia, worked together to return to the moon?
10. We discovered violent little green men on the moon in the 1970s and the U.S. government is afraid to tell the world about them.
So we don't return and risk having our astronauts slaughtered.
11. BONUS: If you have 20 free minutes, watch this video.
This is the famous JFK speech at Rice University in 1962 where he talked about why he wanted to put a man on the moon. What an incredible vision. SO INSPIRATIONAL.