“One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.”
These are words that have been etched for eternity in all of humanity’s history books, words that marked an event which changed the entire course of human history thereafter. Today in Feeds’ Alternate History, we try to erase these words as we attempt to imagine a world where one of the most definitive events of the modern age, the Apollo-11 Space Mission, never happened.
Before we delve into the consequences, let us inspect the political and economic scenario of the USA back then. When President John F. Kennedy announced in 1961 that the USA was to have its flag planted on the moon by the end of the decade, it was faced with mixed responses. One half of the American populace prided themselves with the prospect of defeating the USSR in what was called as ‘The Space Race’. The other half was more critical of the plan as they believed that this would divert attention and funds from more pressing issues concerning the state. It is now widely acknowledged that Kennedy prioritised winning the Space Race over the interest of people.
The USSR’s successful launch of a manned spacecraft, Vostok-1 into space provided the Soviet Union an initial edge in the Space Race. It was when the USSR had made multiple manned missions to space, that the USA decided to step in. The success of Apollo-11 defined the culmination of the Space Race. Since the design and the structure of Apollo-11 inspired the subsequent manned missions, it is debatable if man would have eventually accomplished the moon landing. One can safely say that the Space Race would have heated up in the mid-70s with countries fervently trying to achieve the feat. But the lead that the USA obtained in the Cold War wouldn’t have existed. The countries would have resorted to other ways of displaying their dominance in the Cold War. The US governments would have possibly invested in modern ballistic missiles which the USSR already specialized in.
1960s was also a period of civilian unrest in the USA. The Civil Rights Movement saw plenty of protests and demonstrations on a daily basis. The moon landing success proved to be a catalyst in uniting the nation, albeit for a short duration. People from all over the USA came together to celebrate the victory with over 600 million people watching the live telecast globally. The absence of the mission might have spurred new conflicts and laid a new path for rallies to take place.
However, an alternative argument exists. Days before the rocket launch, a certain Ralph Abernathy, a civil rights leader, marched to the site and protested against the mission. He demanded the money spent on the mission to be utilized for feeding the malnourished African-Americans. This leads us to a question of whether the then state of America addressed the dire needs of its citizens. But let’s save that for a different article.
The USA had to subvert a whopping amount worth $24 billion to fund the Apollo-11. This created an outrage amongst many citizens (not only the African-American community). They believed that this could’ve been used for a successful intervention in the infamous Vietnam War. Even though the involvement of the USA in the Vietnam War is controversial, it was wholeheartedly supported by a major population who deemed it necessary. But when the funds were allocated for the Space Mission, some supporters of the Vietnam War fell out as they felt that the government didn’t care enough. The retreating of the USA from Vietnam would have been prevented because of the surplus funds and citizen cooperation.
USA’s victorious intervention in Vietnam would open up a lot of avenues in history. Would they have colonized the country or would they have let it free?
Drawing to a conclusion, we can summarize that had man never set foot on moon in 1969, the US could have averted various problems on the monetary front, appeasing a vast section of its populace. However, its assertion of political dominance over USSR would not have happened or happened in spheres other than space technology.
The Apollo-11 Space Mission is a significant event in human history. The event not happening would leave a gaping hole in the space-time fabric. Prediction of an alternative course of events are bound to be erroneous to a certain degree for an obvious reason that not all factors can be taken into consideration. Some of the predictions may seem to be brutal exaggerations but we believe that it comes under one of the many possible outcomes, an effect of removing one small step of man.