Wednesday, July 20, 2011
"THAT'S ONE SMALL STEP FOR FOR A MAN...."
The embarrassment of Sputnik (4October1957), success of Yuri Gargarin's first human orbital flight (12April1961, in living color) and our Bay of Pigs fiasco (a week later--and I was that close to being in it!!!) spurred President John F. Kennedy on 25May1961 to announce sending an American to the Moon before the end of the decade before a joint session of Congress. Surely enough came...ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND." That was Neil Armstrong upon stepping onto the Moon exactly 42 years ago on 20July1969. Reportedly, 2.3 billion people watched, representing nearly 64% of the world population. The Apollo Project might well have been the most significant accomplishment by Man, for it initiated the perceived pressure for the Soviet Union to spend so much on defense and space to essentially bankrupt the country, ending the Cold War in 1989.
The Apollo Project cost $25 billion, which is equivalent to $150 billion today by CPI relative value (see box to the right: CALCULATE THE CURRENT VALUE OF MONEY--use 1969, $25 and 2011). In comparison, the Manhattan Project cost $21.6 billion, so the value today would be $262 billion. Note, though, that just the cost of tanks for World War II was $64 billion (or $775 billion today).
Tomorrow, Atlantis returns, marking the end of the space shuttle program. Is this the end of NASA? My posting of 9July2011 says no.
Manhattan and Apollo were absolutely necessary and changed history. NASA can be allowed to downsize to scientific observations, but Man will not be sent anywhere for eons to come. Our wars since 2011 have cost $1,510 billion, or $1.2 trillion.
Our national priority should now shift to developing and commercializing sustainable resources, something we should have initiated at the end of the Cold War more than twenty years ago. Where would the world be today if only $100 billion/year were applied to this purpose?
The Dow Jones Industrials fell 16 to 12,572, while world markets were mixed, with the Japan Nikkei topping 10,000, just about 2,000 above what it was when the Nikkei market opened after the Great Tohuku cataclysm of March 11. Remember, though, that the value was just about 39,000 at the beginning of 1990, meaning that the value today is the equivalent of 65,000. Gold jumped $12/toz to reach $1600, while the NYMEX crude is at $98/barrel and the Brent Spot at $118/barrel. No one has explained to me yet why there is a $20 difference. This does not happen to gold and currencies.
Tropical Storm Ma-On is still at 65 MPH, but moving east away from Japan. Tropical Storm Brett is at 50 MPH, but weakening and further moving northwest in the Atlantic. Dora, however, is now a hurricane at 90 MPH and is expected to strengthen into a Category 3 storm, but is now looking like she will slide past the west side of Baha: