Why does it seem so challenging now to send a manned crew to the moon, when we were able to accomplish this over 50 years ago?

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Why does it seem so challenging now to send a manned crew to the moon, when we were able to accomplish this over 50 years ago?

In: Economics

The technology is different, the focus of the mission is different (establishing a long term presence near / on the moon instead of visiting it for a few days), and we need to get people trained for that sort of a mission again. NASA also shifted focus to other types of space exploration, so they need to re-acquire or develop the equipment needed to reach the moon.

In large part it’s because the politics have changed. Fifty years ago we were scared of the communist threat, and constantly in competition with the USSR (communist Russia). Russia was trying to send men to the moon, so we had to do it first.

Nowadays there’s not as much funding or government/public interest in space exploration, so it’s kind of fallen to the wayside.

We no longer have any active Nasa employees who worked on the moon missions. Plus, we worked for about ten years sending test rockets which would make sure that we had the adequate technology and expertise to make sure we got it right. Right now, we are starting from ground zero again. We have no active rockets capable of this mission and we have no employees capable of this mission and we have no proven technology capable of this mission.

AFAIK, it’s a relatively low cost to benefit ratio.

In other words, it would cost A LOT of time & money to make it happen, with not a lot of benefit.

That being said, there are plans to use the moon as a ‘base’ for further exploration (to Mars for example). So if/when it comes time for that, there will be much larger benefits to having people on the moon, so it will be likelier to happen.

Space travel is always challenging, but I would argue it has more to do with motivation. After the Apollo missions, there just hasn’t been a need or want to go back. We all have our sci-fi desires, but until there is money to be made (even on research), there hasn’t been a point to go back. That mood encouragingly seems to be shifting and a manned mission may be on the horizon again.