How The Moon Landing Directly Shaped The Way We Live Now

Anyone who was alive to witness it happen on live TV in 1969 knows how the moon landing changed history in an instant: for the first time ever, human beings were communicating between a planet and its natural satellite. Nothing has been the same since! Or has it?

Some skeptics wonder how the moon landing changed the world, considering there wasn't much there aside from rocks and soil. Plenty of conspiracy theorists still think NASA's Apollo moon landing program was faked (even though it definitely wasn't). What, really, are the effects the moon landing has had on contemporary life? What did we really learn with Apollo 11?

The simple answer: a ton. Moon landing effects include innovations in safety, technology, medicine, geology, paleontology, oceanography, and much more. And engineers with NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) are on their way to sending "the first woman and next man" to the moon by 2024 with the hoped-for success of their Artemis project

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  • Helmets From The Apollo Program Led To Better Running Shoes

    Rapid improvements in athletic shoe technology in the 1980s and '90s can be directly traced back to the technology used in Apollo-era lunar helmets and visors. A process called "blow molding" gave Apollo lunar helmets superior impact resistance in the 1960s, but it wasn't until the late 1980s that the process was used to create footwear.

    AVIA Group International Inc. created the AVIA Compression Chamber midsole using blow molding. The midsole can be subjected to 400 miles of running without showing any structural fatigue.

  • It Gave Us The Theory That An Asteroid Wiped Out The Dinosaurs

    It Gave Us The Theory That An Asteroid Wiped Out The Dinosaurs
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    It seems unlikely, but the moon landing helped scientists theorize that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a giant asteroid 65 million years ago, a theory that informs our current ideas about their extinction and the later rise of mammals. How? Well, the Apollo program helped scientists recognize the chemical and physical signs of "hypervelocity impact," meaning they now know what rocks and landforms on Earth look like - even millions of years later - following an impact of that magnitude.

    It turns out that the lunar surface is an excellent testing ground for scientists to research what an asteroid's impact can do to landforms.

  • It Made Computer Chips Commercially Viable

    It Made Computer Chips Commercially Viable
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    You may be unfamiliar with the term "integrated circuit," but chances are you're reading this sentence with the help of one. Commonly known as a computer chip or microchip, integrated circuits were made commercially viable thanks to our mission to the moon.

    The Apollo program was the largest consumer of computer chips from 1961 to 1965, and the rapid development of the technology helped to pave the way for personal computers. NASA didn't invent the chips, but put them on the map and encouraged their development.

  • It Gave Firefighters And Race Car Drivers Liquid-Cooled Garments

    It Gave Firefighters And Race Car Drivers Liquid-Cooled Garments
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    Firefighters and race car drivers (among others) who use liquid-cooled garments to keep cool and safe can thank the moon missions. The technology was developed by NASA for astronauts to wear under their suits in space. A battery-powered mini-pump circulates chilled water through a network of tubes in the suit, eliminating 40 to 60 percent of stored body heat.

    The technology is also used by children born with hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (meaning they were born lacking sweat glands to keep them cool).

  • It Made A Strong Case For The Superiority Of Democracy

    It Made A Strong Case For The Superiority Of Democracy
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    This one is a bit subjective and abstract, but some of the brightest minds of the time made a case for it, and plenty of people still think it's true: America landing on the moon demonstrated the strength and superiority of the democratic system. The United States beat the Soviet Union in a manned mission to the moon at a time when the Soviets were a "belligerent and expansive power" in the Cold War (to quote NASA pioneer Paul D. Lowman Jr.).

    This inspired Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov and two of his colleagues to write an open letter to the Soviets citing the American moon landing as evidence that democracy is the way to go. Landing on the moon in 1969 didn't end the Cold War, but it did demonstrate America's technological prowess and boundless ambition (the Soviets had a big lead in the "space race" when President Kennedy proposed landing a man on the moon in 1961). 

  • It Expanded NASA Considerably

    It Expanded NASA Considerably
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    For the moon landing to be viable, NASA needed a huge financial and structural boost. Thanks to that boost, NASA is what it is today, despite its budget being scaled back considerably. NASA's current infrastructure and continuing innovations were sparked by the mission to the moon.

    Roger Launius, space history curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, explained that NASA's huge growth in the 1960s is still being "fed" and kept alive in the 21st century, and will likely continue to be, largely thanks to influential members of Congress fighting to keep jobs in their districts.