Public-opinion surveys in recent years have shown that Americans want the country to prioritize other kinds of space activities; in a Morning Consult poll published in February, survey participants said the United States should focus more on climate-change research and the study of asteroids that could strike Earth. Only 8 percent said sending astronauts to the moon should be a top priority, and 7 percent said the same for a mission to Mars. Gil Scott-Heron’s words in “Whitey on the Moon,” from 1970, still resonate: “Can’t pay no doctor bill / But Whitey’s on the moon / 10 years from now I’ll be payin’ still / While Whitey’s on the moon.”
For years, NASA has insisted that Americans cared about space exploration anyway, and presented the Apollo effort as a product of national unity. (It wasn’t; polling shows that the moon program was unpopular for most of the 1960s, with the exception of a survey conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Apollo 11 landing.) As one space-policy wonk told me recently: “They’ve been coasting on the fact that a significant amount of people think that space is cool and they don’t have to argue why they do this.”

There is no planet B! Earth first! Space travel’s allure is an undeserved construct of midcentury science fiction! Stop trying to tell me I need to respect aerospace outside of its primary militaristic function! My unpopular opinion is popular, and I will take this moment to glory in it