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“A Nation of Quitters”: NASA’s Lunar Withdrawal
By Ben Evans

In 2011, Hollywood had us believe that the crew of Apollo 18 fell victim to spider-like aliens and a sinister conspiracy, spearheaded by the Department of Defense, to eliminate the chance of extraterrestrial contamination. The reality is quite different: for the three men who might have flown the real Apollo 18 are alive and well to this day…and one of them did get to walk on the lunar surface. Further, the astronauts tentatively assigned to Apollo 19 are also still with us. More than four decades ago, in September 1970, NASA executed one of the most controversial – and perhaps misguided – decisions in its history, by cancelling the last two piloted voyages to the Moon. In doing so, the agency and a short-sighted Washington administration condemned humanity to at least two generations in which exploration beyond Earth orbit was only possible with robotic craft.

It was a lost opportunity whose echoes resonate to this very day.

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