45 years ago this morning, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell launched Apollo 11 from Kennedy Space Center. Four days later, Neil Armstrong would become the first man on the moon.
For the 45th lunar landing anniversary, NBC is running an entire series here:
Since 1969, spaceflight has transitioned from a government-run program to a highly profitable industry. The Apollo missions may have been justified by national pride and glory, but they were really all about the nuclear arms race; if you can build a moon rocket you can build very large and precise missiles.
In 2014, our smartphone signals, internet connections, and GPS would not work without the multi-billion dollar infrastructure in Earth orbit. Most satellites don’t need to be subsidized, they are quite profitable on their own. Yet we haven’t seen a lot of manned exploration outside of low Earth orbit, because it isn’t yet profitable.
It remains to be seen whether anyone will build a hotel in space, mine gold from asteroids, or film a reality show on Mars. In any case, the future of space exploration will require people to make money in space.