Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

I can't help it. I know that the end result of all those billions spent were some moon rock, but when I see the moon I can't help but think that it isn't just a "light in the sky", it is a place and we've been there. The moon landings were the greatest moment of the people of the United States of America. The fact that they managed this even while the Vietnam war was raging only makes it even more of an accomplishment.

While it is often noted that investment in military technology pays off in spin-off effects, we should note that the payoff is more caused by the investment being in technology, and not specifically the military part. In short - the more the investment is about thinking as opposed to manufacturing, the greater the spinoff effects. The Apollo program had a spinoff-factor of seven, meaning that for every dollar spent on it, the US got seven dollars back. This is, to my knowledge, unmatched by any project - be it civilian or military. [1]

The "Firing Room Theater". This is not a replica of the Apollo control center - these are the original chairs, consoles and tables from the control center where people sat and launched Apollo 8[a] to the moon. The videos show the liftoff, complete with a distant rocket rumble and light.

Saturn V second stage nozzles. Five Rocketdyne J-2[b] liquid hydrogen / oxygen engines each delivering about 1 MN. This can be compared to the five kerosene / liquid oxygen burning F-1[c] engines of the first stage, which each deliver 6.77 MN.

The top of the first stage is seen to the left and the five nozzles of the second stage to the right. The interstage covering has been removed, and also not shown are the solid-fueled ullage motors[d] that accelerate the stage to ensure that the propellant is pushed "down" towards the engines prior to liquid-fueled engine ignition.

The "Space Mirror"[e] memorial to fallen astronauts. It was dedicated in 1991 and updated as needed since. So far there are 24 names on it. The monument is built from stone slabs sitting on a metal frame, with the plates containing names being thinner and having the letters cut out and covered with a semi-transparent material. The whole structure is lit from behind, projecting the names into the sky.



We should not stop our defense spending, but we should do that spending for the right reasons. If we see our military primarily as a money-making venture we are certain to invest in the wrong things.