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But the fact is, the Apollo program was a one-shot thing. It was wound down and the US lost its ability to fly to the moon. It also discontinued its high-payload rockets in favour of the Space Shuttle, so now the rocket market is occupied by the European Ariane and the Russian Proton.
The Soviet manned space program made more scientific and technical sense than the American one, and the ISS owes more to the Russian Soyuz and Mir than to the American Skylab, which was also discontinued and folded into the Shuttle.
We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
One sidestory that I found particularly intriguing was a note between, I think, McNamara and Lyndon Johnson, in the early 60s. In it they discuss the budget surplusses they are expecting for the late '60s, and they fear Congress will call for tax reductions before they can use the surplusses for their Great Society plans. So in the meantime they think Apollo a good and popular method to keep the budget balanced until they have better things to do with the money. Then came Vietnam...
But more on topic, the whole 'spin-off' concept seems pretty much invented by NASA in later years to justify their budgets, and it is used for so many 'big science & engineering' projects when the wider public has doubts about the costs.
(2) Missile programmes you say? Because military programmes with large destructive potential are soooo useful while high energy physics, space exploration and the like are vanity projects! And you know how the military loves to share the technology it develops and would not like to keep it secret. One of the great advantages of the large lab high energy physics environment is exactly that it is not a military programme. We don't build things to kill people, I think this is a plus. Further, there is not a tendency to keep progress secret. Quite the opposite in fact, thus a greater chance that progress made here can defuse faster and wider.
(Disclosure, I work at CERN.)
There's very little evidence to suggest that Apollo contributed directly to electronic design. The first patent for single-chip microcircuitry was granted in 1958. Computers with modular logic were built around the same time. Putting the two together was an next obvious step, and would have happened anyway.
Apollo was mostly a PR exercise for US science and engineering. There may have been some spin-offs in materials science and - obviously - rocket science. But Apollo hasn't left much of a trace in computer science history.
In fact it's rarely mentioned at all. Projects like SAGE, which was the first generation US air defence network, were much more important. NASA did buy a big IBM System/360 for Apollo, but System/360 was already around, and IBM were more interested in selling it as a tool for airline bookings than managing a space program with it.
Keep in mind that the big advantage of ICs, even those years, was the possibility to get prices down through mass production. Not really something the space program, or even Minuteman was very concerned about.
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