July 16, 2009, - 12:08 pm

America Failed to Advance in Space in 40 Years Since Apollo 11: Real Science & Imagination Replaced by Junk

By Debbie Schlussel
As you may know, today is the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission to land men on the moon. (It’s also the 64th anniversary of the detonation of the first atomic bomb in the new Mexico desert.)
It was the first manned landing on the moon and was commanded by Neil Armstrong and also manned by Buzz Aldrin, both of whom rightly continue to be American heroes to this day. They set foot from the Eagle onto the moon on July 20, 1969. I highly recommend the excellent, funny, entertaining documentary, “In the Shadow of the Moon” (read my review) documenting that and the other manned landings.
Unfortunately, while we put men on the moon several times, the American space program has failed in many ways. We haven’t done much since first landing on the moon.


Man on the Moon: Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969

Yes, American men landed on the moon another five times since. And we’ve sent many space shuttles out into the great beyond (with two of them, sadly, exploding).
But what else have we done? The many space shuttle launches are wastes of money. They don’t achieve much except garner results for a few experiments. That’s about it.
Forty years ago today, people envisioned a future with residential colonies on the moon, or at the very least somehow harvesting the moon for energy or some other resource. None of that has happened. And in fact, very little has happened in the 40 years since Apollo 11 or the five other manned landings. In fact, in terms of outer space exploration and colonization, we haven’t done much since Neil Armstrong set foot on that rock.
Sadly, in 40 years, the most creative “visions” regarding moon and space exploration are the stories concocted by loony conspiracy theorists who claim we never landed there and that it’s all a fiction perpetrated on a Hollywood set.
As someone who is fascinated by the universe and its planets and loves American history and sci-fi, our failure to advance further in space is a huge disappointment. But it should be a disappointment for all Americans. What held such great promise 40 years ago is now a broken promise.
Imagine the possibilities. Perhaps we could mine the moon’s surface for energy and tell our Saudi and other OPEC overlords to shove it. The recent sci-fi movie release, “Moon” (read my review), takes place in such a world (though the results are that of a contemporary “Twilight Zone” script, not a look into our likely or even possible future).
Perhaps we could discover ways to humanly set foot on Mars and harvest or colonize that planet. It’s not impossible. But the uncreative minds at NASA feel comfort in just doing the same old meaningless space shuttle missions. NASA has become just another government bureaucracy–another failed, bloated government bureaucracy. The pencil pushers and plain Janes and Joes who run the place lack imagination.
But it is not just the fault of the bureaucrats. It’s the fault of the American population, as well. Through our own fault, through the undying devotion to pop culture and lackluster education, we’ve become ignorant. And in this dumbing down, we’ve given up our fascination with the endless possibilities and freedom of real science–space exploration, for the a dangerous obsession and endless slavery to the neuroses of fake science–”global warming,” “climate change,” the “green movement,” etc.
Without a limitless vision and imagination on our own part and that of our government, there will come a day–and in many ways, we are at that day–in which Americans will no longer stand for funding a program whose modern achievements are nebulous. More and more of our support will, unfortunately, go to junk science.
And that’s why something new, something great, is needed in the U.S. Space Program. Something beyond eating packaged freeze dried ice cream for sale at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Perhaps even something first done 40 years ago. It’s been a while since we’ve sent Americans to set foot on the moon. Maybe now is the time to repeat that, instead of more space shuttle repetitions.
Regardless of what we do, we have to do something. Just because no country has advanced its pursuits in vast universe, doesn’t mean no country will.
And we should be first. Our national security, our energy resources and other things we have yet to fathom and know may depend on it. As the astronauts who landed on the moon in 1969 and beyond noted in “In the Shadow of the Moon,” when we landed there, the whole world–even our worst enemies–were in awe and even felt a proud kinship with America.
Those were the days.
Also in “Shadow of the Moon,” astronauts who landed there noted that most of thousands of our greatest technological achievements and computerized inventions got their impetus from technological creations and advancements made expressly for the space program’s focus on a manned lunar landing.
Imagine the advancements we can have in our own lives–to make our own lives even easier. But that will only happen if America–specifically the bureaucrats who run NASA–have the guts, the courage to do something big, something that sounds nuts and unimaginable. Sadly, no such hero–no such creative visionary–has arrived.
If only the U.S. Space Program had a real, intense focus and focused on the next “small step for man,” the next “giant leap for mankind.”
Will that ever happen? When?

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22 Responses

the reason nothing important has bben done after the”landings” is we never made it to the moon. it was a hoax to try to beat the russians

tonelli2nystrom on July 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

It’s worse than you think.
In the 1950′s and 60′s, proposals were being made for a nuclear pulse propulsion system that could carry huge spacecraft across the solar system in a matter of weeks (and even made interstellar travel within our reach). The idea was first proposed in 1947 and involves technology that was completely feasible sixty years ago, hardly science fiction stuff. The idea was shelved permanently because of PC anti-nuke hysteria and Nasa has stuck with ridiculously expensive, inefficient and impractical chemical rockets that have essentially stranded us in earth orbit. The fact that nobody is willing to dust off this old idea and take humanity to the stars is simply criminal.

ibn Abu on July 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Read Dr. Robert Zubrin’s “The Case for Mars”.
The Jews have already worked out the details for landing on Mars. :+)
I hope you take some time to read the reviews.
Thanks to Dr. Zubrin, we have also worked out the details for breaking free of OPEC. Read “Energy Victory” by the same author.
Debbie, if you ever met Dr. Zubrin, I think you’d like him.

There is NO Santa Claus on July 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Zubrin is also the author of “The Holy Land,” a satirical sci-fi book that is an allegory to the Israeli-Arab conflict, and the Arabs do NOT come out looking good in the process.

ibn Abu on July 16, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Having grown up watching and reading 2001 and 2010, space 1999, or anything by Asimov, this subject is a sore spot for me. Just another thing that points to our demise as a nation. It’s not even the weekend yet, and I want a drink.

Rick on July 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm

There’s an old SF story, dating probably from the 1950s, about a future society (circa 2000) which had immense technology and could easily have explored space but didn’t bother because the people were all too obsessed studying their own “psychology.”

photoncourier.blogspot.com on July 16, 2009 at 1:51 pm

The Hubble telescope IMO is the crown jewel of the space program. Through its eyes we can see to the very ends of the universe–amazingly vast and diverse. With the knowledge we have gained from what we can see, measure and observe, we know that though the universe is incredbly vast, it is not infinite– as once imagined…we know that it is expanding, but at a controlled rate of expansion. We know about black holes, and gamma bursts and all sorts of things–including the existence of dark matter. The absolutes that we have learned from Hubble are well worth the cost.
As for spending gazillions of tax money to send more people out there in space (like Star Trek or such), I don’t see the point. The distances are too vast–and incredible hot and cold do not make such a concept practical. We HAVE continued to perform numerous experiments in space in the absence of gravity which have led to many tech advancements–and benefits have come.
I recall the day of the moon landing and first walk on the moon. It was a special time for sure. However, I don’t think we will ever land on Mars or Venus, nor should we. What for? I’m sure not inclined to believe that the costs of going to the moon and back justify anything as far as having some sort of space energy source–but present the numbers and see what they say. What is the type of energy we’d get from moon dirt and rocks? Perhaps I’m wrong–but I doubt it.

BB on July 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm

I believe we need to go back into space for many reasons. Besides what Debbie brought up we need to do it for military reasons. No, I am not some crazy warmonger but countries that do not like us are certainly going to try and exploit space based systems.
However, I don’t believe it or any other bold initiative will be undertaken by our government any time soon. President Hussein has already spent all the money (and then some) we have and will have on wasteful programs.

i_am_me on July 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Did you see Buzz Aldrin’s Time to Boldly Go Once More in the WaPo today?
link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/15/AR2009071502940.html?sub=AR
Almost all of the comments (when I read it this morning) went on about healthcare, and those actually commenting on the article were excessively negative – mostly displaying poor knowledege of the vast quanity of things we take for granted today which came direcctly or indirectly from the Apollo Program.
IMHO, all the negativity I saw there and here on this subject is simpily more lib trolls trying their best to stuff the subjct full of ignorance in order to justfy their vison of a socialist dictatorship in the US. The same bunch makes simular ignorant comments on the F-22 program as well.
For those interested in learning more about Project Orion see this link:

PIF on July 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm

However, should we make going to Mars and beyond a national priority, not only would we modernize our industrial base, but also vastly improve our educational system. Not to metion recreating the real worldwide Hope we inspired in the 60s and early 70s.
But you are right, the Messiah and His Divine Messengers will do and say anything to keep that from ever happening, else they would lose absolute control over our lives they so desperately crave.

PIF on July 16, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I’m not a “Truther” or a conspiracy theroist, but I do have one question.
Someone please explain to me how can a non existent atmosphere produce wind strong enough to make the flag wave in the above picture? With the amount of waving that the flag appears to be doing it would also produce a dust cloud from the dirt below. Just saying.

wolf2012 on July 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Who needs NASA?!?!?!
As for the flag waving on the Moon:
That’s what search engines are for.

Shy Guy on July 16, 2009 at 3:15 pm

It is not waving! It is merely bunched up. Gezzz, is critical thinking taught anymore?

PIF on July 16, 2009 at 3:46 pm

The current space program being promoted by NASA is a joke. Every time the space shuttle(designed in early 1960′s)goes into orbit around the earth it costs the taxpayers 750 million dollars.
For what purpose other than to keep the paychecks coming to the non thinkers at NASA.
For those of you that remember, we should have been colonizing mars by now under the original goals for Space exploration that were being proposed in the late 1960′s NASA.
Something happened after we went to the moon. For some odd reason the original Atlas boosters were destroyed and any exploration to the moon and mars came to a screeching halt.
Some of our Astronauts that went to the moon claimed there were ancient buildings on the back side of the moon which were covered up by NASA and were never reported to the American public.
How else can you explain that NASA went from a pioneering space exploration agency to an agency that became very secretive about its missions and goals in space. Did you know there is now a 5 minute delay on any space transmissions to and from the shuttle to protect the American public from any thing “leaking out” while they are working in Space. What exactly are they doing up there that requires them to be so secretive?
It is people like you that have no desire to explore the heavens that have caused this country to become a second rate power. Japan and China have no such problems as their space programs are in high gear. They both intend to send manned missions to the moon and then Mars.
If there were people like you back in the 1500-1600′s, America would never have been discovered by the Europeans due to a cost benefit analysis.
Have you thought what would happen if an asteroid hit the earth and we had no colonies on Mars. Man kind would become extinct instead of continuing on with the humans that colonized other planets.
For the record, the Hubble Space telescope was huge disappointment as the original NASA contractor ground the mirror with the wrongs specs rendering it blind until it was patched with a fix. It still does not perform as designed and is up there with multiple fixes that makes it work…kind of! Just another example of how NASA has become a laughing stock.

ScottyDog on July 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm

The mission of NASA has changed. After the international ban on nuclear weapons in outer space, the nuclear pulse propulsion projects are lost causes unless we want to risk Iran floating nuclear weapons up there and dropping them on us in less than 10 minutes. The one benefit from the Eisenhower era, of requiring more math and science classes in public schools, is the rise in engineers and scientists, but also the widening gap of the slow and fast learners, since all can’t meet the higher standards or use the more theoretical higher level classes in their careers. Many, many adults claim they have no clue on how to do even simple algebra. Hubble works well now, but for what ends? It and NASA as a whole appear more intent on proving evolution is true and finding life, no matter how far or small, than in exploring the economic potential of space exploration. Finding a way to make space profitable would make sense, especially for all of us SciFi readers who have read many books where mining was the main or only reason to be away from earth. So, yes, no matter how much I wanted to be an astronaut when I was young, I have to admit now that NASA is a waste of time, money and effort for all Americans.

DPShow on July 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Unfortunately, the spirit and inclination for such endeavors is long gone. The Space Shuttle, for the most part, was really a waste. It never performed up to its original specifications, and its promise of affordable and frequent manned space flight was not realized. Our Space Shuttle fleet is more like a bunch of decrepit pickup trucks that have few economical uses, and are now quite dangerous to operate. After those old Chevy’s are sent to the junkyard, we will no longer have any means of entering space, except through the use of foreign vehicles launched from other countries. Despite what NASA has on the drawing board, I doubt that the Space Shuttle will be replaced. The United States is a declining power that does not lack the resources, but the will to explore and exploit space in a serious way. Others will take up the challenge that we have turned our back on. The United States is much like the British Empire was in 1945. Its best days were behind it, and it could only hope for a manageable decline. By 1970, the United Kingdom had become a an economic and political backwater. President Obama is our Clement Attlee.

Worry01 on July 17, 2009 at 5:46 am

I knew as soon as I began reading your article that some crack pot would post about the moon landing being faked. I am so tired of all these idiots doing everything they can to bring the great things America has done down. From the moon landing being faked to President Bush blowing up the World Trade Centers to the Mars rover being filmed in the Utah Desert. It’s one idiotic conspiracy after another. They try to say because the flag moved that wind blew it and there is no wind on the moon yet if this was filmed on a closed movie set there would be no wind in the building either.
Space exploration should be a National Priority instead of Welfare, Global Whining, and National health Care but this is what you get when you have cowards and communists in office

Marty Fee on July 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

“If only the U.S. Space Program had a real, intense focus and focused on the next “small step for man,” the next “giant leap for mankind.”
Will that ever happen?”
I think the Prophet Ovadia, speaking to all those who pride themselves on their achievements without acknowledging G-d’s involvement (although it does seem to be all too relevant to NASA’s endeavors), has the answer… “If you go up high like an eagle,…
…and if you place your nest among the stars,…
..from there I will bring you down, says the Lord.” [Ovadia, 1:4]
When they realize that it is only with Hashem’s help that any of that is possible, and when they do it to advance a G-d conscious civilization, not their own egos.

yonason on July 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Marty Fee [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2009 09:02 AM

PIF on July 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I lived in the Clear Lake area adjacent to NASA from 1983-87.
We knew 3 of the Challenger astronauts.
The Challenger and Columbia astronauts died because NASA was ‘green’.
For the Challenger:
The asbestos based O-rings were replaced by un tested rings without asbestos; the EPA refused to give NASA an exception to the rules; after all, some fish might get cancer.
For the Columbia:
Freon based foam was replaced with non freon based foam, to “save the earth” from the “Ozone Hole”.
Counting damaged tiles following missions is routine.
The new foam was heavier, and damaged more tiles than the freon based foam.
This information is not a secret, but I have yet to hear an apology from NASA or the EPA for this eco madness.

Frank on July 18, 2009 at 8:38 am

Debbie; It IS truly sad that we’ve not been back to the moon or beyond but a once great agency has been defunded nearly to annihilation…an invest-ment that once returned to the GDP $31-$33 USD for each dollar invested into the Agency (NASA). I guess one only needs to examine our past choices for presidents to understand how shal-low,disingenuous and lacking foresight we’ve be-come as a Sociey…we’ve cerainly strayed from the “mankind” I think Neil Armstrong had envisioned :^{( One day, for the sake of all man-kind we will grow and move beyond the surly bonds of this big blue marble in this universe…..

nordlawyrrc on July 18, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I think we should push the bounderies of Human life, if the Europeans hadnt “heaved to” from shores of the the old world – there would be no America as we know it!

It takes drive and a big vision to take these things forward.

We have been swayed away from teh idealism of our dreams by the little men and the penny pinches who do not have dreams and ideals…. just piles of beans to count!

roger_ramjet on March 6, 2010 at 11:16 am

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