This Friday is teh anniversary of the moon landing.
If we hadn’t gone there, how much money would we(the government) have saved?
What good came out of it that it was worth it?
besides tang…

No money would have been saved. There would have been some other stupid massive wasteful project to spend it on. The number & size of government projects always expands to meet (and often exceed) available funds.

I think both Velcro & Teflon were born of the space program, probably many other things as well.

If we had spent money funding Velcro, Teflon & all the other projects independantly (by awarding contracts to Dow Chemicals or Union Carbide or whoever), we probably would have spent just as much money and not have achieved a moon landing.

What good came out of it? How soon we forget! There was a space race going on and the pride of all americans was at stake. This wasn’t just an academic exercise… it was proof that the US had the technological prowess to pull of something nobody else could (or has since tried to) pull off.

When people speak of the recent advance of the Chinese or the technological superiority of the Russian MIR over the Space Shuttle they forget that we acheived something the Russians and Chinese could never have accomplished.

Was it worth billions of dollars? Who knows. Should that money have been used to feed the starving poor of the world? Probably… but by funding a project that the entire country was behind… and I mean everyone… the nation’s morale was boosted far higher than just about anything else we could have done with it… especially considering the aftermath of the Kennedy assasination and HIS dream to land before the end of the decade.

Even if we hadn’t gotten hundreds of inventions out of the Moon race I would still say it was worth it.

Please ignore the word other. I did not intend to imply that the moon landing was a stupid massive wasteful project.

A lot of people forget that the Space Program served very well as an alternate way for the U.S. and Russia to compete with each other (an alternate to say, blowing up the world).

Velcro, not Teflon came out of the space program. However, Teflon was first put to practical use in a government program. It was used to make gaskets for all the pipes that transported the very corrosive uranium hexafluoride for the Manhattan Project.

Velcro did not come from the space program. Here
is a web page describing the invention of Velcro.

Global positioning system, satellite communication, personal computers, earthquake warning systems, weather prediction, more pharmaceutical knowledge than will fit in one post, the same amount of medical knowlege, new materials including insulators, and semi-conductors, composite fibers, aerojels, vacuum processes, and micro gravity processes for materials production, astronomical data, and methods, fundamental knowledge of physics, and chemistry, organizational methodology for production of large scale engineering projects, quality control procedures for critical systems engineering, knowledge in aerodynamics, mathematical systems, extreme precision tools, control systems for extreme precision tools, computer modeling techniques, and information management systems, to name a few. The indirect benefits would be a much longer list.


“If God had intended for man to go to Mars, He would have given us more money.” ~ an unnamed NASA official ~

curiousGeorge is right on the Velcro thing. An associate of our favourite columnist has even written a piece on it.

But, as has already been pointed out several of these ‘new’ materials were first used en masse in the space program. And as I have never payed, nor will pay US tax, I can only thank all you yanks for making some of these things widely available.

(Allthough Velcro was a Swiss invention it was the merkins who made it popular.)

And another treasured myth demolished: Tang was invented before humans ever clawed their way out of the gravity well. Tang was first marketed by General Foods Corporation in 1957, the same year that Sputnik was launched. It wasn’t until 1960 that the Air Force began developing food for the Mercury program and adopted Tang.

Tang has become emblematic of spaceflight, but it was invented and formulated for the mass market, not as a super-futuristic astronaut drink that was later marketed to the public.

But aside from that, what have the romans ever done for us?

M-O-O-N, that spells moon. sorry. Had to say it.

I’ve heard that the medical spinoffs alone more than made up for the cost of the entire space program. We didn’t really spend all that much on Apollo, in the government-funding scheme of things.

Then how is it ever possible for governments to have a surplus? I think you’ll agree that there have been cases in history where governments have run surpluses.

Note: I’m not talking about the projected surpluses there was such a big deal about how to use in the most recent US presidential election, I’m talking about actual surpluses.

Damn you! That was all I came in here to say and you beat me to it!





I feel much better now. :slight_smile:

First note that for every dollar spent on Apollo, there was something like an eight dollar return to the economy. That’s not a waste, that’s an eightfold growth. How much would we have saved? minus 8 times what was spent.

Also note that most of that money went to pay people salaries. None of that money was left in space. Some hardware items were left in space, after they accomplished a specific job.

No, neither Tang, Velcro, nor Teflon were invented for the space program. All were popularized by the space program.

There were real inventions in computer miniturization, materials, aerodynamics, knowledge of human body functioning, and tons of other side benefits as mentioned by Triskadecamus. Plus, of course, knowledge about the moon itself, it’s makeup and geology and chemistry and how that relates to its origin and therefore the early Earth.

Happy moon landing, all!

Well I don’t want to debate the merits of the space program, but there can be arguments made that it was wasteful (ina a stritly accounting sense which is what the OP was asking about) to spend so much money trying to put a man on the moon as opposed to other types of space exploration/science.

I would also be interested in a cite on the 1:8 return on doallrs spent on the space program.


I imagine the 8:1 figure was arrived at by some form of advanced proctonumerical analysis.

I’d like to say that even if there wasn’t a huge return on the investment I think the Apollo program is the best thing the government ever spent my (parent’s anyway) money on.

Heh heh. You said proctonumerical analysis. Heh heh heh.

I can’t believe that I am the first among this group of Acolyte Geniuses (May Cecil’s name ever be venerated) to suggest that the most important effects of the first landing of a human being on an extraterrestrial body are the intangible ones.

While Triskadecamus mentioned indirect effects, you will please not confuse the two.

Are there none on this benighted board who can remember that day? Does it fade so fast? Do you who were there not remember the pride you felt in the exploration for exploration’s sake?

Do you not weep to think of this incredible achievement? Does it not boggle your mind that creatures who were mere millenia ago struggling to master banging rocks together (May Douglas Adams’ name ever be venerated) have managed to harness all the horses of Hell to escape the mysterious forces which have imprisoned them for untold millions of years?

Do you not take pleasure in knowing that we are shaking off the delirium of our infancy and embarking upon our adolescence? A sentient life form, of its own accord, left the planet of its birth. Heady stuff. Perhaps even the most significant event in the history of humanity.

And we are reducing it to dollars and Tang.

We are born to explore. We grow, we change, we teach, like no other species on the planet. Not to become maudlin, but I sometimes regret the advances that I will not see because of my mortality.

And yet, it is mortality which imparts beauty to endeavors such as these.

John Glenn parlayed his celebrity as an astronaut into a highly successful political career. He could arguably have become President of the United States, except for an unfortunate accident.

Can you IMAGINE what Neil Armstrong might have done with his celebrity, had he chosen to? Yet he chooses to not even grant interviews.

But these men know that what they did was their privelige and their purpose. They, I must assume, are as aware of their mortality as are you and I. At great personal risk, they chose to explore, and they have ennobled every human by their efforts.

vanilla, your premise is faulty. We cannot, and must not, measure the benefits of exploration in terms of a cost/benefit ratio. When we cease to grow, cease to learn, cease to EXPLORE, we will cease to be human. We will be automatons, in a zero-sum game, with only winners and losers.

As long as there is a hill to climb, a river to ford, and frontiers to explore, we shall have hope that there will plenty for all, want for none, and a better future.

The computers and and pooping in a bag were just happy bonuses.

I heard that when broken down to each individual, the space program is quite cheap; something like $2 per month per person…? Anyone have any hard figures?