Thread: NASA's future
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Shackleford is offline
Feb15-11, 05:43 PM
P: 1,537
Quote Quote by D H View Post
Yes, I am. That comes out to $120 billion, or $35 billion less than the cost of the Apollo program. You apparently are thinking that because we have "been there, done that" that the cost will be a lot less. What makes you think that? Most of the cost of the Apollo program was for procurement and operations, not R&D. To make matters worse, twenty years is a very suboptimal time frame for such an endeavor. Finally, spending $6 billion per year on this would entail spending all of the human spaceflight budget on this (i.e., we would need to scrap the ISS, and that ain't gonna happen).

The only way to make such an endeavor cost less than $100 billion would require
1. Doing it in significantly less than 20 years and
2. Drastically reducing the cost of getting into orbit.

Item 1 would require Congress to up the ante on NASA's budget. This will not happen any time soon given the immense downward pressure on non-defence discretionary spending. Item 2 is possible if Congress stops meddling with NASA's budget.
I agree with 2. We should focus on that instead of cobbling together slightly more-advanced rockets. What about trans-atmospheric flight?

When I think the cost should be less, I think that the appropriate materials might now be more prevalent and thus lower in cost; that the computing power allows us to more efficiently and quickly design the appropriate systems and requirements; that we know what to expect in the flight, and so forth. Is this any of this correct?

Aren't the Air Force rockets better and cheaper?