I voted a red check, but I have to begin with my post to MSK's OL:
I have to point to Ayn Rand's essay, "The Monument Builders." Space travel was technically feasible in the steam age of Jules Verne. Willey Ley tells the story of the Germans around von Braun having called all their committee supporters to a roundtable because they needed a special pump to handle the booster stage. They thought that one would have to be specially created. A representative from some firm or other suggested that they contact the firm that makes fire engines, because those pumps are pretty good.
Once the Soyuz began to orbit the Earth, the failures began. Antennas didn't open properly. Power was compromised. Navigation proved difficult. The next day's launch had to be canceled. And worse, Komarov's chances for a safe return to Earth were dwindling fast. -- http://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2011/05/02/134597833/cosmonaut-crashed-into-earth-crying-in-rage
Collectivism prevents space travel, and always had. Two world wars - the first, especially - drained the resources and the will of the world. Remove World War One and we would have had a Lunar colony by 1950.
I am enthusiastic about space and always have been. Always. Before the loss of Challenger, I had applied for the "Journalist in Space" competition. I was facing Walter Cronkite and John Denver, so I was at the back of the line. Still, I learned to fly, and to write about aviation. And I have a soft spot in my heart for those old Bolsheviks, of which Ayn Rand was (romantically) one: big dreams, big ideas, women in engineering... But for all of that, the USSR threw human lives at every problem. We throw money. Which way of life do you prefer?
When asked about "his" achievement, Gagarin demurred and said that it was the entire Soviet people who had done this. Here in the USA, Shepard and the others all thanked the people at NASA, and the contractors, and all the others, but never was it the broad brush of "we the people" always just "everyone we cannot name."
I have an medal made from the Apollo 11 booster. It was given to contractors by way of thanks. I have a little medallion made with a little bit of the 1000 grains of silver taken to the Moon. The USSR gave up on the Moon. They had no way to monetize it.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 4/12, 5:07pm)