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View Poll Results: Was Apollo 11 "worth it"?
Worth it in almost every way. 37 67.27%
Worth it for the political and/or inspirational value. 8 14.55%
Worth it for the "spin offs" and/or job creation. 3 5.45%
eh. 2 3.64%
OK, but we should have focused our efforts elsewhere. 3 5.45%
Just not worth it. 1 1.82%
Almost total waste. 1 1.82%
Voters: 55. You may not vote on this poll

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Was Apollo 11 "worth it"?
Old 07-21-2009, 09:44 PM   #1
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Was Apollo 11 "worth it"?

I enjoyed this thread:

First Man on the Moon - Where were you?

So I thought I'd take a little different spin on it, and ask: Was Apollo 11 "worth it"?

Personally, I was very interested in the space program, and inspired by it, but I pretty much say "NO".

I don't really buy the "spin off" arguments - I think we could have developed those through more practical means (ocean exploration, rapid transit, alternate energy, medical care, etc). I look at most things this way - not just were they "good" or "bad", but were they better/worse than the alternatives?

It is inspiring, and it is hard to assign a value to that. To see a nation (or any group) focus on and succeed in what seems like an almost impossible goal (and it seems even more impossible in hindsight) is moving. But was it the best goal?

OK, there is the political aspect to it. I have no idea, if we didn't beat the Soviets to the Moon, would it have really mattered? Since I don't know, I won't factor it into my answer, but that is just my own ignorance.

What say you?

-ERD50
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:46 AM   #2
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I say it was worth it....

As an example, was it worth it in the old world to send travelors out such as Columbus? It was a major cost at the time... with potentially no payoff or spin offs like new technology...

We explore... that is what we do...
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:35 AM   #3
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Mankind must have something to aspire to.

Space travel is an important goal in my opinion.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:45 AM   #4
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Voted "yes", primarily for the political/inspirational aspects.

I recall looking up at the moon with wonder and amazement that, right then, there were men from earth walking around on it. I enjoyed model rocketry as a kid, and the "space fever"caught up a large number of my fellow pre-teens. I'll bet many went on to technical careers.

And, the political aspect. . . I think it's hard now for young people to imagine the degree to which the Cold War permeated our national (and world) psyche. There really was a battle to the finish between two very different ideologies, and it all could have ended very badly for the US and the world. The race to put a man on the moon was a relatively "pure" and objective theater of competition for the two systems, but certainly not the most important. At the end, I was glad we had won. And in the coming decade of doubt following the Vietnam War and Watergate, it was an important reminder that we could do great things.

Probably the most significant adverse unintended consequence: Now every time somebody gets an idea that they believe would benefit from a huge taxpayer expenditure, they trot out the Apollo program. "What we need is an Apollo program to develop [solar cells, hybrid vehicles, a cure for cancer, etc.].

Given the present world situation and other factors, there's no spacefaring goal that will excite the imagination and pay off in the intangible rewards Apollo did. Will putting a man on Mars touch the world and capture the imagination? What portion of the populace cares about the international space station? What percent of people could name the astronauts now inhabiting it? We should keep exploring space and keep exploiting its economic potential, but we shouldn't expect another moment like we had 40 years ago.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:20 PM   #5
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Worth it in every way. NASA's budget is on the order of .5% of the federal budget. Worth a lot more than studying snail farts or some such.

I think it was worth it for the inspirational and entertainment value alone. For the same reason I think going to Mars is worthwhile.

"Because it's there".
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:25 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies so far. I'm surprised how many voted w/o comment, but since I rarely do polls, maybe that is typical.

You can't really make much of the data, a self-selected poll is not very meaningful, but I'm still a bit surprised at the overwhelming "YES" votes (17 and 4 votes in the top two categories, over 80%, and just one or two votes in each of the less positive categories as I type).

Maybe my "NO" vote encouraged people to express the opposing view? Maybe people disinterested (and maybe think it was a waste) would skip the topic, so not vote?

At any rate, I do agree with each of the positive comments made so far, they are all valid, IMO. I just personally weight them a bit differently.

One thing that has struck me, is the actual goal:

"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 earth."

I mean, there is NO wiggle room in that! It is to the point, has a time constraint, and no ifs, ands, or buts. Impressive!

And I agree that probably no other goal could focus a nation so closely. Any other goal would have been much more diverse and probably would not have a "gotcha" moment that we would be all talking about 40 years later.

All very interesting to me, no matter one's view on it.

-ERD50
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:44 PM   #7
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Manned Space - because we are men. Now don't get me distracted with stocks and hormones.

Ok Bob Ballard has a valid agrument as to knowledge per buck and the balance between unmanned and manned needs to be examined on an ongoing basis but hormones(women too) require that we go into Space.

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Old 07-22-2009, 02:21 PM   #8
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The preponderance of boomer here loved the space race. I wonder what people in their 20s and 30s think about future space explorations.
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
The preponderance of boomer here loved the space race. I wonder what people in their 20s and 30s think about future space explorations.
Yep, it sure would be a different story I think. It might be like asking us if the prize money put up for the Lindberg flight was "worth it"?

I'm not a fan of further manned explorations, let's tackle the oceans first. Not sure of 20-30s have much of an opinion.

And I did love the space race, I just question its overall worth/priority. Some good perspectives here.

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Old 07-22-2009, 03:42 PM   #10
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I believe it was worth it in every way. While I believe the spin offs could have been developed through other programs those programs did not capture the public and therefore would not have gotten sufficient funding.

Having said that, I question if our current space expenditures are worth it. While I love the pictures from Hubble, what purpose do the serve? Lets say we confirm the Big Bang theory. So what? Space is either expanding forever or expanding and collapsing. Either way we are doomed and it is several billion years away. SETI? Well say we find life say, 200 light year away. Imagine the conversation Hello..... 200 year slater Hi..... 200 years later 'this thing working'... 200 years later.... I think so....

I believe to get the research gains that make a space type program valuable it has to be focused on a goal, that requires a leap in technology to complete. I don't see a trip to Mars, or a Moon base, or more pictures of the universe doing that. I look at our current space program as well fair for astronomers.
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
The preponderance of boomer here loved the space race. I wonder what people in their 20s and 30s think about future space explorations.
Woah, is that a new reality show? Sweet! BRB, I need to go tweet to my friends about it! What's the address for the new show? Is it on hulu.com?



For reference, I found the wiki on NASA's budget. $17 billion a year, or about 0.6% of our federal spending. It accounts for 35% of the total spending on academic scientific research.

I know this is a fallacious argument, but I'd rather spend $17 Billion on space exploration than many other ways we waste money (see the recent "stimulus" bill or cash for clunkers for examples).
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:11 PM   #12
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I think Texas Proud said it best. Explore--that is what we do. In man, the mind is the most amazing thing and we haven't completely figured it out to this point. If you can even possibly think about something, the mind will go after it. Very interesting show on Discovery the other night. It was about the moon and all the effects it has on Earth. The rotation, the axis tilt, the tides, gravity, etc. The focus of the program is that the moon is moving away from us. Very bad. Granted it's thousands of years away but it will have a huge effect. Our axis will wobble and our climates will change as the axis tilt changes. No big deal, right. Honestly, there may be places better suited for us in the future. The space program facinated me more than anything else in the last 50 years. Nothing else could have done that. We need to keep exploring. The oceans are really facinating and we should explore them more than we do, but they are still on Earth.
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:08 PM   #13
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You don't have my long term historical perspective as an option.

Look at the ancient Roman Empire - among their physical remains are the Aqueducts, Forum, Coliseum. In 1500 years or so people will look at the moon and see that we put a golf ball on the moon.
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:36 PM   #14
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I know this is a fallacious argument, but I'd rather spend $17 Billion on space exploration than many other ways we waste money ...(cash for clunkers for examples).
Maybe NASA can get in on the action and trade in some of their old inefficient rockets for some new stuff...
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:50 PM   #15
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Thirty five years with the Govt, 28 with NASA. Duh, easy vote for me. Wonderful place to work. I think the unmanned is as important (and more productive scientifically) than the manned effort but definitely something we were good to do and good that we are still engaged.
I heard an interview with people from around the world about where they were in 1969 and how they felt about the moon landing. A Chinese fellow said while they were ardent enemies of ours at the time, he and his friends all deeply appreciated the human achievement in the landing.
Maybe a new poll, would you go to the moon? Sign me up. Glad to come out of retirement to go on a trip to the stars.
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:19 PM   #16
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Hormones.

Ya know when I post 'hormones' over at the Bogleheads - they don't seem to always grasp the vast implications - some do, some don't.

And I have pretty much refrained from pssst -Wellesley more or less.

I did slip on Earth Rise over the Moon.



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Old 07-23-2009, 05:42 PM   #17
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Never give a Canuck a poll option of 'eh.'
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