The Soviet Union was a better villain than ‘terror’. It’s not an generic noun for one thing. There was actual competition at that time, in this case for space and the moon. In this War On Terror, they just went to Afghanistan. This video is Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about NASA and how America lost its capacity to dream therein, as he has before. He actually gets really worked up in this video, which is a mashup of some old school footage and him talking.
It’s an interesting idea. He’s aware of the military aspects of the space program, but his pitch seems to be the economic, social and even spiritual benefits of dreaming big. What I find shocking is that the bank bailout was more than the cost of the space program for the last 50 years. I mean, I get it, but big government spending projects used to actually buy something besides the absence of collapse. The space shuttle program, for example, costs drastically less than the the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sucks dramatically less.
It’s like the US got caught in a race to the bottom with Al Qaeda. Actually, it’s not even like that, that’s what happened. Can you imagine if Al Qaeda had a space program? I mean, terrifying, but at least tangentially productive. One almost misses monolithic states sometimes. Almost.