NASA spent 14 years to explore the satellite that amounts to more than 105,700 million euros today. Today, another trip would amount to 83,400 million.
“If we can get to the Moon before the Russians, then we should.” US President John F. Kennedy pronounced on April 21, 1961, with wounded pride: nine days earlier, the USSR had sent the first Yuri Gagarin to space. The struggle for supremacy during the Cold War was the best spur to Washington and led to that dream on July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong became the first man to land on the moon. From then until December 1972, 11 other American astronauts walked on the lunar surface.
After that success, there was a huge investment of resources and endless failures and uncertainties. The milestone triggered the pride of the nation and linked with the idea of American exceptionalism. It was used to defend the capitalist model against communism, as an inspiration to political challenges and led to scientific advances. But it also sparked disappointments and even a certain citizen apathy in full social boiling in the USA in the sixties and seventies.
Only the Panama Canal resembles in size to the Apolo program as the largest non-military technological effort ever made by the United States.
On the 45th anniversary of that last lunar mission, President Donald Trump revived the dream of the Apollo program in December. He announced the goal of sending astronauts back to the satellite and then to Mars. He hardly detailed financing and deadlines, beyond advocating for cooperation with the growing private aerospace sector. Despite this, the budget for NASA for 2019, announced on Monday, includes a modest increase in funds from the space agency that is not enough to undertake a lunar mission. The budget forecast for the next few years does not include an extraordinary allocation that makes it feasible to return to the satellite.
Between 1959 and 1973, NASA allocated 23.6 billion dollars to explore the Moon, not including the cost of infrastructure. This figure, according to the value of the 1973 dollar and taking into account the inflation is equivalent to 131,750 million dollars today (105,700 million euros, slightly less than one-tenth of Spanish GDP). Most of those vast funds were allocated to the Apollo program.
This, in itself, is a great feat of its own.