This article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-kessler/why-you-should-be-more-interested-in-mars-than-the-olympics_b_1712462.html -- ok, I admit, I read Slashdot sometimes, no one is perfect ;) -- made me wonder why the awesomeness of space conquest stopped motivating people.
I remember the tales of my parents at the time of the Apollo landing, it was indeed instilling awe and wonder in the minds of people. It was followed by people like the Olympics or the football competitions are. And nowadays, NASA about to send a nuclear-powered rover to Mars, in a very delicate mission requiring the best of human engineering and scientific skills, and not in line in most media, most people not even aware of it? How did we fall that low?
Sure there was the Cold War. It definitely played a role, in the amount of resources invested by both sides in space conquest, and in the way the media broadcasted the news.
But here in France, a country that was mostly neutral during the Cold War (slightly west-aligned, but not part of NATO for most of the Cold War), the interest of people for space was not really partisan. People who were pro-USSR were amazed and cheering for the Appolo mission, people who were pro-USA were amazed and cheering for Gagarin. My brother and I played with (USSR) Sputnik as much as with (USA) space shuttles. We praised equally Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin. I don't think the lack of Cold War explains it all.
So what happened to the space conquest spirit? How did it disappear? I notice a blank spot on my map (well, not totally blank, but still very fuzzy) of reality, do some of you have clues for how to fill it?