A new space race has begun. Over the coming years, an armada of rockets will head to the Moon to hunt down precious resources, satisfy the urges of billionaire tourists and maybe do some intriguing science along the way.
In a prolific flurry of activity between 1969 and 1972, NASA landed 12 astronauts on the Moon. Starting with Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps, they explored the lunar surface, left experiments there for us to improve our knowledge and returned Moon rocks so we could learn about our neighbour’s history and origins.
Yet achieving those historic feats did not come cheap. The total cost of the Apollo programme in today’s money was $280bn, according to a recent estimate by The Planetary Society. That’s more than the GDP of 78 per cent of the world’s nations. Adjusting the value to take into account changes to the USA’s own GDP since the 1970s puts that figure at more like $641bn.
Ultimately, that money came from taxpayers, who were increasingly reluctant to sanction spending on something that had already been done six times. Schools and hospitals tend to be closer to people’s hearts.
Read more at Science Focus