As with most technologies, when something barely works, when it's the first of its kind, there's a natural tendency to improve it, develop it, exploit it. Soon there's such an institutional investment in the original technology, no matter how flawed, that it's very hard to move on to something better.
I've often wondered this exact thought, but never knew how to put it into words. What technologies have been so supplanted in our society that would require a revolution to disrupt them? Maybe something related to fuel technologies? Perhaps whichever nation(s) solve that problem will become the next "world leader."
If we're stuck on one world, we're limited to a single case; we don't know what else is possible. Then—like an art fancier familiar only with Fayoum tomb paintings, a dentist who knows only molars, a philosopher trained merely in NeoPlatonism, a linguist who has studied only Chinese, or a physicist whose knowledge of gravity is restricted to falling bodies on Earth—our perspective is foreshortened, our insights narrow, our predictive abilities circumscribed. By contrast, when we explore other worlds, what once seemed the only way a planet could be turns out to be somewhere in the middle range of a vast spectrum of possibilities. When we look at those other worlds, we begin to understand what happens when we have too much of one thing or too little of another. We learn how a planet can go wrong. We gain a new understanding, foreseen by the spaceflight pioneer Robert Goddard, called comparative planetology.