Originally Posted by Chinney
Long and interesting newspaper article about the Apollo missions, and why some view them as the 'beginning of the end' of manned space travel, rather than the beginning. Putting men on the moon was very, very expensive, quite perilous, and of questionable scientific benefit:
“The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine
— Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time.
Ditto with Maxwell's discovery of electromagnetism... he saw "no value"... and yet less than a century later, our modern world depends on that 'questionable scientific benefit'.
Bill Anders colour photo of Earthrise over the limb of the Moon on Apollo 8 is considered one of the most influential photos in history, and is widely credited for kickstarting the environmental movement
by vividly illustrating just how fragile our blue marble is.
Armstrong and Aldrin's first steps were shared by more people in more countries than any single event in history... (including me on my Dad's knee)... unifying mankind (in percentage terms) in a way never duplicated since.
And of course, generations of children were inspired to pursue careers in science and engineering, and to undertake all manner of seemingly impossible challenges... because "if we can put men on the moon, we can do anything."
Hardly questionable benefit.
As for cost... in 1969 5.5% of US GDP was spent to get to the Moon.
Total costs of Apollo program are widely estimated at $25B (in 1969 dollars)
For comparison, the US spent almost $30B on the Vietnam War in 1969 alone. (also in 1969 dollars)