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“When Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind on the moon’s surface 50 years ago this week, many people were already dreaming about staying.
Thinkers proposing moon cities ranged from author Arthur C. Clarke, who in 1954 envisioned igloo-shaped buildings on the moon’s surface powered by a nuclear reactor, to the participants in 1968’s Stanford-Ames Summer Faculty Workshop in Engineering Systems Design, who proposed a “Moonlab” that would begin as a three-person observatory before gradually expanding to include 24 people and extensive lunar farms. The pop culture of the Apollo era was full of moon settlements that we could expect by the 1990s: The one in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey boasted 1,100 residents and looked like the minimalist headquarters of a very well-funded interior design company.
But none of this came to pass. The last human set foot on the moon in 1972.
So what happened to the lunar colonies that seemed so imminent 50 years ago?
We’ve had other priorities
Many experts say there was nothing stopping humanity from following the Apollo missions with a permanent settlement. We had the technology to do it. But given the huge expense involved in such an endeavor, humans opted to spend limited resources solving (and, well, creating) problems here on Earth.”
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