The end of the Space Age was the best thing that ever happened to science fiction, claims author Gerard J. DeGroot:
When the space age ended, the alien age began. In the early 1990s, the Disney Corporation decided to close down its Mission to Mars ride, itself a direct descendant of the Rocket to the Moon attraction Werner von Braun had helped to design. In its place came Alien Encounter, in which an extraterrestrial stows away on a spaceship. This made things easier for Disney, as one executive admitted: "One way for an attraction to remain timeless is for it to be based in fantasy, rather than reality."
After we stopped sending people into space, it was easier to spin elaborate fantasies. We no longer had any narratives about actual space travel, with all its challenges, to compete with our magical interstellar ships, DeGroot argues.
[Dark Side of the Moon: The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest] NYU Press 2006