billions and billions of dollars and all we got was this lousy tang


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    While not strictly related to the Apollo program, the space program has been a phenomenally successful government program. Leaving aside Tang, there have many technologies that have led to immense wealth creation, scientific advances and modern conveniences. I am still waiting for my phaser and tricorder.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    This may be one of those things that is indicative of deeper beliefs about government, but I find it much more inspiring and beautiful because it was a national project, not just a private company. Private business may have gone into space but surely not anywhere near when We went and with likely far less emphasis on science.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      That’s a good point. And maybe there was cause for a massive space race to unify the nation. It is also possible that the money could have been better spent on other programs – but I do understand that space exploration may also have its long-term benefits. I’m skeptical, though.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        When there is a slinky green seductress from Alpha Centuri dancing around in front of you, you’ll be just fine with it.Report

  3. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    The key distinction is between manned and unmanned flight, IMHO. Unmanned is unquestionably worth it (I doubt GPS would have gotten off the ground as quickly without govt, plus the benefits to science); but manned space exploration doesn’t make sense until you’ve got a space elevator or some other way of getting to orbit on the cheap.Report

  4. Avatar Kyle says:

    I think Apollo is nothing short of mankind’s greatest peacetime scientific achievement.

    Sure we’ve made great strides in technological strides in agriculture, transportation, and medicine and I don’t mean to belittle the invention – however accidental – of penicillin, or the agricultural revolution but there’s something transcendent about Apollo.

    Think about it, in 1960, the modern automobile was about 70 years old. The plane even younger and cabin pressurization allowing flight over 3,000 m, was less than thirty years old. By the end of that decade we had travelled 828,743 nautical miles to place two men on the moon in time for the steam locomotive’s 175th anniversary.

    Maybe I would think differently if I weren’t American, but to look up at the moon, recognize that a human being has stepped foot on it, and that such a cooperative, peacetime endeavour is possible is enormously inspirational. It doesn’t just speak to the space race or American know how, it speaks to the possibilities of mankind. There’s something in that worth the billion dollar price tag, that’s worth more than the convenience of the internet or the alacrity of processing provided by microprocessors.Report