The 1969 moon landing was no small feat, both in terms of execution and budget. The 50th anniversary of the moon landing provides an opportunity to reflect on the Apollo space mission, as well as the funding that made it possible.
Project Apollo efforts cost the government an estimated $25.8 billion between 1960 and 1973, according to data collected by the nonprofit space The planetary society. At first glance, that might not seem like a lot – after all, NASA’s budget today is $21.5 billion for just one year – but, adjusted for inflation, that figure reaches $283.8 billion, according to calculations by the Planetary Society. And when adjusted for gross domestic productPutting the spending in the context of the overall economy, that price skyrockets to $641.4 billion.
That’s a lot of money, but how much is it really? $641 billion is on par with modern times United States annual defense budget. With 641 billion dollars, we could finance the 43 billion dollars of Bernie Sanders college for all plan for a decade, or even, in theory, attempt to end homelessness by buying a house at the average price for each of the estimated residents 553,000 homeless in America and there are still billions left. If you just wanted to distribute the money, you could give every American man, woman, and child about $2,000.
All this to say: a lot of money has been invested to make the robust space program possible. Although the finances devoted to the Apollo program are no longer rarely discussed, they were controversial at the time. Some objected to the spending on the grounds that the space race was too militaristic, while others argued the money could be better spent on tackling poverty and improving conditions at home, according to an article from the New York Times.
That said, the Apollo space program gave the United States more than just a morale boost. Technology like solar panels, dialysis treatment, security systems and cordless power tools are among the innovations that have resulted directly or indirectly from the Apollo program, according to Nasa.
The United States also saw a sharp increase in the number of science and engineering doctorates awarded between 1960 and 1973, the years when the Apollo program was active, according to the the wall street journal — help set the nation on the path to the global technology leadership it enjoys today.
Even Silicon Valley itself can trace its roots to the lunar mission.
Space constraints associated with a lunar landing forced the Apollo guidance computer to use a new and not entirely reliable technology known as the “silicon chip” – giving a big boost to Fairchild Semiconductor, the company Californian who designed it, according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
“The region of Santa Clara County, where Fairchild and its competitors were located, began calling itself ‘Silicon Valley’ late in the decade,” according to the Smithsonian. “The Apollo contract wasn’t the only reason for Valley’s transformation, but it was a major factor.”