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.
It Made A Strong Case For The Superiority Of DemocracyPhoto: Shutterstock
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 ConsiderablyPhoto: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com
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.
It Helped Develop Cordless ProductsPhoto: Shutterstock
Cordless vacuums, drills, and phones are now common in homes across the globe, but they might not have appeared in homes as soon as they did without the Apollo moon landing program. NASA worked with Black & Decker to create a portable, cordless drill to gather rock and soil samples from the lunar surface. The drill had to be lightweight, battery-powered, and have minimal power consumption.
Black & Decker later used the knowledge and experience gained from the project to create the Dustbuster, cordless drills, and a whole lot more.
It Made Canned Food Safer In The USPhoto: Shutterstock
NASA worked with Pillsbury to create some of the first "space food" later used in the Apollo moon landing program. Part of the work was making the food as safe as possible. Pillsbury developed something called the "Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point" (HACCP) concept, which was designed to prevent food safety issues before they occurred.
The FDA later incorporated the HACCP concept to ensure the safety of all canned food products in the US. So thank the moon landing for your next can of safe-to-eat SpaghettiOs!