It’s really weird thinking about how we managed to not only travel to space but land on the moon with technology that’s not as powerful as your smartphone but in the second half of the 20th Century, the United States and the Soviet Union competed to be the first nation to travel outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
This was not a friendly endeavour with both government pushing the limits of technology to be the first in history during a period of hostility.
The Soviet Union were the first to send a satellite, an animal and a man to space which prompted President J.F.Kennedy to deliver the famous speech; “We choose to go to the moon”.
Unfortunately, President Kennedy died before he could witness his nation to be the first to land on the moon but his speech gravelled the entire nation and Congress to support his space ambitions.
Yet, 50 years since the United States first landed a person on the moon, the government slowly became reluctant to support any other endeavours due to lack of ambitions, cost and a charismatic leader.
Patriotism was one of the main reasons why Congress chose to support this costly project during the Cold War.
The United States saw the communist Soviet Union as a major threat to their influence across the world but traditional war between the two nations would have led to mutual-destructions with nuclear weapons in both nations’ arsenals.
Hence, the Cold War was a war to reduce and limit the influence of the other either through propaganda or proxy wars therefore, being the first nation to conquer or at least travel to space has been man’s most ambitious dream.
Thus, both nations allocated huge amounts of resources to their space programmes with the United States falling behind in the Space Race, which hurt their pride.
Consequently, without an arch-nemesis, the United States’ government became increasingly reluctant to revive their ambitions and instead focus on foreign issues hence, spending trillions of dollars on military affairs.
Even though, one of President Trump campaign promises was to revive the space programme with the so called ‘Space Force’, he fired the NASA Head of Human Exploration to display his frustration to not meeting the deadline to return Americans back to the moon, while at the same time cutting NASA funds.
Ironically, President Trump and his administration are mostly at odds with scientists on many issues including climate change, therefore, it seems unreasonable for humans to return to the moon.
While bureaucracy and limited funding to government programmes make it seem less likely we will return to the Moon, private individuals and companies are taking the helm with Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, hoping to colonise Mars within a few decades.