Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What Were the Real Reasons Why We Stopped Going to the Moon?

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Next year 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon

landings, since then just 12 men have walked on the lunar surface in six

missions covering a period lasting less than three years. The Apollo project at

its peak employed over 400,000 people in some 20,000 businesses and universities

with a total cost adjusted to 2018 figures of around about a $145 Billion

so after all the work money invested why did our

interest in it drop like a stone in a vacuum and what were the real reasons

why we stopped going to the moon.

Today Apollo is seen as a groundbreaking episode in our scientific understanding

and technological abilities, in just over 60 years we've gone from the first

powered flight of the Wright brothers to Neil Armstrong stepping onto the lunar

surface. Apollo was not only the culmination of the space race but it was

also the last great manned adventure in a century where we'd climbed the highest

mountains, gone to the deepest parts of the oceans and explored the farthest

reaches of the earth. As time goes by the approval rating of the Apollo missions

have gradually increased in 1979 41% of people in an NBC

poll said that Apollo was worth it by 1999 twenty years later it was 55%.

In an increasingly uncertain world the mystique of Apollo and our

nostalgic look back at this period of history when anything seemed possible

has only been heightened by the recent loss of some of those original pioneers

like Neil Armstrong the first man on the moon and Gene Cernan the last man on the

moon but it wasn't always this way in fact at the time when Apollo was

championed by President Kennedy many scientists were opposed to it saying but

it would divert money from other projects the top military were opposed

to it because it would take away many of the best scientists from working on

aerospace and missile technology and community leaders were opposed because

they believed the huge amount of money would be better spent on education

poverty and the healthcare. There are many reasons as to why we stopped going

to the moon the increasing involvement in Vietnam from 1968 to 75 and the

budget cuts that followed, the gradual thawing of the Cold War and the growing

belief that money could be better spent here on earth Rather than in space but there

are two reasons which trumped all the others and to find out what those were

you have to go back to Kennedy's speech to Congress in May 1961 and the

circumstances under which he made it. In November 1960 John F Kennedy had been

elected president of the USA at a time when the Soviets had been achieving

impressive milestones in space. They had taken the lead with Sputnik in 1957 the

first satellite to orbit the Earth. They'd orbited the moon and photographed

its far side with Luna 3 in 1959 and then on the 12th of April 1961 to top it

all off they put the first man into orbit Yuri Gagarin. All this was a huge

propaganda success for the Soviets and to many of the American public and those

in the West it really did seem like the US was losing the space race and by

default the Battle of ideologies even though Alan Shepard became the first

American in space just three weeks later. Kennedy had to do something so on the

20th of April 1961 he sent a memo to vice president lyndon b johnson asking

him to see what space programs could allow the u.s. to catch up and overtake

the soviets after meeting with NASA. He came back a week later with three

suggestions all based on using the early Apollo program. Apollo had been conceived

in 1960 under Eisenhower as a follow-on to Project Mercury but would carry three

astronauts rather than Mercury's one and have much larger rocket stages which

would later become the saturn v with a range that would extend as far as the

moon but at the time it still didn't have any well-defined goals. The first of

the proposals was to build an orbital space station but NASA believed the

Soviet leading heavy rockets would mean they would be able to achieve that in

the not-too-distant future. The second was a manned orbit around the

moon again this was believed to be a goal which the Soviets could also do. They had

already orbited the moon with their unmanned the

Luna 3 probe so it wouldn't be a massive leap for them to make

a manned mission. The third option was a manned mission to land on the moon this

was something but NASA thought the Soviets would have a problem doing and

they had showed no signs of wanting to do. It was also far enough off into the

future but it would be likely that the US will be able to achieve it first.

Kennedy was initially skeptical of a manned moon landings due to the huge

price tag which was estimated to be nine billion dollars for the next five years

up to 1966 in 2018 money bets around about 70 billion dollars but it was the

only option that would have the prestige and the impact that Kennedy was looking

for, it was big and it was bold and it would send a signal to the world that

America was the preeminent leader in space and technology. Although it's

believed by many that Kennedy was a big supporter of space and that this was the

reason for the Apollo initiative, in a transcript of a meeting between himself

and the NASA Administrator James Webb in April 1962 which was released in 2001 he

clearly states that he is not really that interested in space

he's only doing it because of the progress of the Soviets and Yuri

Gagarin's flight just a few weeks earlier. It's also been suggested but it

was to help make up for the humiliation of the disastrous U.S backed invasion of

Cuba at the Bay of Pigs which also happened under his administration. And so

when he made his speech to Congress on May 25th 1961 and said the following "I

believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this

decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the

earth" he quite literally meant one man. The

mission would be to get a single astronaut to land on the moon, plant the

US flag and then come back home. To Kennedy, Apollo was a political decision

to achieve a political goal this was to demonstrate to the rest of the world and

those developing nations that were still struggling with their future political

paths that the technological and organizational power

of the United States and therefore democratic capitalism was superior to

soviet-style communism. Although this was an out-and-out race to beat the Soviets

Kennedy tried to back out of his commitment by offering to share the moon

mission with the Soviets twice, once in a private meeting with Nikita Khrushchev

in June 1961 and again in the United Nations speech in September of 1963 but

they declined the offer and after Kennedy's death the proposal was dropped

by both sides. It would take the Soviets a further three years before they took

their own moon mission seriously and by then they'd fallen well behind and the

technical challenges of the N1 rocket would delay and ultimately end their

manned lunar ambitions. Over time Apollo was fleshed out from a single manned

landing to a series of ten although after Kennedy's assassination it became

almost a living memorial to him. Even after the Apollo 1 disaster that killed

the three crew as they were doing a pre-flight test there was the

determination to carry on and keep his vision alive. This also highlighted the

danger that the mission could fail in some way they were quite litterally

flying into the unknown. Although most of her systems had been tested and previous

missions had been flown around the moon the development of the lunar lander was

taking much longer than expected and the landing of Apollo 11 and the ascent back

from the lunar surface was something that could not be simulated accurately

on earth, if something went wrong at that point there was the very real danger

that the crew would be stranded on the moon. This set up Apollo 11 as the grand

finale of the space race between the U.S. and the Soviets with all the

nail-biting moments right up until the end.

Although the Soviets tried to upstage Apollo by landing a remote-controlled

lunakhod rover on the moon in February of 1969 the rocket failed at launch

but this was kept a secret for many years and it would be February 1970 when the

replacement Lunakhod caught one officially landed. But Apollo 11 did make it to the

moon and after the crew landed and planted the u.s. flag on the lunar

surface, they stayed for a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes before setting off

and returning home safely. And that was it,

the race was won, the US had done it, they beaten the Soviets and they landed a man

or in this case two on the moon and return them safely back home just as

Kennedy had stated of Congress back in 1961. Although there were nine more

Apollo missions in the pipeline Apollo 11 was the main goal, all the missions

after it were effectively filling in the missing pieces to do the science and

making use of a massive infrastructure and investment but had been made to get

Apollo 11 to the lunar surface. However because Apollo was a political

project to showcase the power of the US and the free market system there was no

plan to carry the science on and colonize the moon or make a permanent

lunar outpost or even return to the moon. In fact like so many other major events

which have happened since there was no grand plan of what would happen after

the initial Apollo missions. This rather ill-defined conclusion to Apollo was

pointed out at a time but no one that the highest levels took much in the way

of any action. After the initial adulation dies down the apathy sets in

even though there are more missions planned, a kind of been there, seen it,

done it type of attitude becomes prevalent amongst the public. What was

front page news around the world is relegated to the back pages or not even

reported in many countries, interest from both the public and the government drops

dramatically and the knives are out for NASA as budget cuts become ever deeper.

By January 1970 and after Apollo 12 NASA announced but it would trim back 50,000

more jobs from its 190,000 strong workforce and that was less than half of

its 1960 high of 400,000. Apollo 20 would be

canceled and it's Saturn 5 would be used to launch Skylab itself made from the

upper stages of a Saturn 5 rocket. Out of all the following missions only Apollo

13 really stands out but for all the wrong reasons

because it brought back the drama of will they or won't they make it. There

were calls to end the program after Apollo 13 but NASA didn't want to go out

on a failure so it was announced that they will be cutting out missions 18 and

19 and condensing their most important goals into Apollo 17 which would become

the last one. With this ending NASA was left in a strange place, Skylab was a

stopgap measure to make a space station but using leftover Saturn 5 parts and

the shuttle was all that was left of a space transportation system that would

have taken men back to the moon and on to Mars. It would now be for low-earth

orbit missions only basically it will be a space truck moving men and equipment

to and from orbit but neither Skylab or the shuttle had that wow factor of the

Apollo 11 mission. The much hoped for giant leap for mankind will be limited

to a few hundred miles above the earth and as such we no longer needed with

giant rockets capable of returning to the moon all the infrastructure to build

and launch them. The moon became a footnote in space history for the next

50 plus years as robotic probes took over the job for exploring the solar

system. It's only in the last few years that we've seen anything that resembles

those ambitious goals of the 1960s but even then they are on a scale much

smaller than before and so it's with some irony that the publication The

Economist pointed out that Apollo was the program chosen to take on the Soviets

to prove that the free market system of the US was better than the centralized

government control of the Soviets and yet it took a massive amount of American

public resources, money and centralized government organization to

achieve it. So were we right to leave a moon after Apollo or should we have

continued maybe with Soviet and other foreign cooperation like we have done

with the International Space Station, let me know in the comments and also why not

check out some of our other videos if you have time. So just like to say now

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