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Why haven't there been more lunar landings in recent years?

There seem to be a lot of questions about the's another one!

The last manned lunar landing took place in December of 1972. The mission was Apollo 17. Despite the public's interest in the first lunar landing in 1969, NASA's budget was cut in 1971 to the lowest level in nine years. Because of this budget cut, Apol lo 18, 19, and 20 were cancelled.

A Newsweek poll taken only months after the first lunar landing in October 1969, showed that 56% of Americans thought the government should be spending less money on space exploration, and only 10% thought the government should be spending more money. T here was no longer public recognition of the benefits of space (or lunar) exploration. U.S. President Nixon, his administration, Congress and the press soon followed in showing disinterest for the space program.

Exploration of the Moon could no longer hold Americans' attention. There were just too many things happening closer to home. The years of Apollo were also the years of demonstration for the civil rights movement, the years of political unrest with Marti n Luther King and Robert Kennedy being slain, along with thousands of Americans in Vietnam.

Lunar exploration has just recently rebounded. The Clementine orbiter was launched in January 1994 in order to map the moon more thoroughly. The Lunar Prospector is to be launched in Sep tember 1997. It is designed to study possible polar ice deposits and the moon's faint gravity fields. The next lunar landings are projected to be by the Lunar-A unmanned penetrators in 1999. It is still thought that early next century man will return t o the Moon, this time for keeps. Astronauts, scientists, and engineers will set up a permanent base on the Moon. It has been fondly termed Moon Town!

Submitted by Missel (Nebraska, USA)
(August 4, 1997)

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