Why did we never return to the Moon?
It has been over 45 years since the last Apollo mission to the moon. Why have we not gone back?
The last moon landing was on Dec. 14, 1972, and since then neither the United States or any other nation have launched another mission to go back.
There are numerous reasons why this is the case, but they can be broken down into the simple categories of money and political will.
The very first moon landing in 1969 was one of the most significant moments not only in human history, but in political history, as well.
Coming in the middle of the Cold War’s space race with the Soviet Union, the Apollo program had a huge amount of political and public support, as well as a near-limitless budget. During this time period, NASA used up nearly 5 percent of the nation’s budget, roughly $40 billion today.
While the moon landing changed the world, the public's motivation to that kind of money spent on the program faded once the achievement was reached. The Apollo program saw 12 people reach the moon before being cancelled in order to have it’s budget diverted to NASA’s first orbital space station, Skylab.
The Saturn V rocket - the only rocket with the power needed to make it to the moon at the time - was put into retirement in ’73. And no human has left Earth’s low orbit since.
In 2005, there was renewed interest in sending people to the moon thanks to NASA’s Authorization Act, which sought to establish a permanent lunar base for research. Soon after, work was being done to produce new rockets. However, the global economic crisis that followed ended any of the major government investments into a lunar project with Project Constellation being defunded, along with a large portion of NASA’s operational budget.
While NASA used up nearly 5 percent of the national budget to reach the moon the first time, they now have less than half a percent of the national budget to operate with.