Is Boris Johnson’s ‘moonshot’ just another shot in the dark?

Like the first lunar missions, the PM’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ to combat Covid-19 is an ambitious plan that could easily fail

The prime minister’s latest wheeze is to spend £100bn on magic technology that doesn’t exist yet so that everyone in the country can be tested for Covid-19 all the time. This is called “Operation Moonshot”, which is at least less offensive than his dubbing of ventilator procurement “Operation Last Gasp”. But will it be, as the actual moonshot wasn’t, faked?

It was the Soviets who first actually shot the moon, by crashing their Luna 2 spacecraft into its surface in 1959. By then, people had already been speaking of a “moon shot”, ie a rocket to the moon, for a decade. After Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the actual moon in 1969, “moonshot” acquired a general sense of any very ambitious plan, particularly one that might fail catastrophically.

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