Often, especially now with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the question is asked: Why did we stop sending people to the moon. The answer is usually: because the USA had proved they could do it and it is extremely expensive. The only reason so much money was spent on it was that the wanted to land people on the Moon before the Soviet Union did. Now the Soviet Union never did this, nobody else did it, so the moment Neil Armstrong set his feet on the moon, they had won that race. Why spent more money on sending 5 more missions. Why risk 15 more lives? Yes, they made some small other firsts, like the first moon rover, but nothing that impressive. Plus, if that was a reason to continue, they wouldn't have stopped after the sixth mission. There is so much more one could do, like digging a hole, growing a plant etc.

The only reasons I could come up with is that the main costs were made (research) and for some spare change they could add 5 more missions (I think this is the reason for a couple of Mars missions in The Martian). Or maybe NASA was afraid the first mission would fail, so they had already prepared for a few more attempts.

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    $\begingroup$ Louis Armstrong setting foot on the moon would have been very remarkable for several reasons! 😂 $\endgroup$ – DarkDust Jul 30 '19 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ @DarkDust perhaps this was the inspiration for his song "What a Wonderful World" when he saw the Earth. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 30 '19 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ There is more than one prominent Armstrong, see wikipedia, but you wrote the wrong firstname. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 30 '19 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ For science ? To prevent firing people working on the program ? As shown by skylab missions, already built hardware can be recycle, thus the "already planned and rockets are being built" may not be a good reason. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Jul 30 '19 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ NASA had an Integrated Program Plan for exploring the solar system. It didn't get very far for budget reasons. media.wired.com/photos/593306f352d99d6b984e0edc/master/… $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 30 '19 at 14:18

Three more missions were planned but canceled to save some money. The lost and forgotten missions 18, 19 and 20.

  • To get moon dust and rocks samples from more than one spot only.
  • To get some samples of hardware from the Surveyor 3 lander during Apollo 12.
  • To place more than one lunar seismometer.
  • To place more than one lunar ranging retro reflector.
  • To have more than one mission if the first landing must be aborted.
  • To spend much more time on the Moon during the later missions.
  • To get samples and images from a much larger area using the Lunar Roving Vehicle during the later missions.
  • To place at least one professional scientist on the Moon.
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    $\begingroup$ to prove they could do it reliably $\endgroup$ – user20636 Jul 30 '19 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @JCRM it was good luck that Apollo 13 was the only successful failure. There was a high probaility for more unsuccessful missions. The astronauts were aware of their high personal risc. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 30 '19 at 13:49

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