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News Mars mission cost

  1. Feb 1, 2010 #1
    Here is my super rough starting estimate. 1000 tons to LEO for the total program. At SpaceX costs of $10,000/Kg that would be $10 billion for launch services. Let's say $10 billion for fabrication and $10 billion for ground facilities and $30 billion for salaries. So we have a total of $60 billion over a ten year program. A real bargain compared to $20,000 billion to save the owners of banks.
     
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  3. Feb 1, 2010 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    From 2004

    Based on Nasa's history and the history of government programs, there is every reason to assume that the cost would be much higher than even the adjusted estimates. That last thing that I heard reported was the cost would certainly exceed $1 trillion.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
  4. Feb 1, 2010 #3
    I believe that NASA number includes about 90% pork.

    The single most expensive non-wartime undertaking in U.S. history was the 20 trillion dollars of transaction guarantees to keep the bank owners rich.
     
  5. Feb 1, 2010 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    That is absurd. Who are you to estimate costs? What is you experience in these matters and on what data do you base your assertion?

    That is false. We have not spent 20 trillion on the banks. What's more, most, or a significant portion of the money loaned to banks has been paid back with interest.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
  6. Feb 1, 2010 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Perhaps it is noteworthy that we did or will soon have spent $1 trillion in Iraq, which was a choice.

    Iraq instead of Mars? What a deal.
     
  7. Feb 1, 2010 #6

    D H

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    Where did you get these numbers? Did you just make them up?

    "1000 tons to LEO" -- 1000 tons of what?

    "10000/Kg" -- Elon Musk may shoot you for saying that. The cost with Falcon 9 supposedly will be $3,273/kg. The Falcon 9 has not even had its first test flight yet. SpaceX has a history of underestimating the difficulties of getting into orbit. I suspect the real number once they get Falcon 9 working will move toward the $10-15k/kg with current launch technology.

    However, using a heavy lifter adds a lot of complications to the project. A lot of on-orbit manufacturing will be needed. A heavy-lifter does not have the oomph needed to lift all the material in one launch. This in turn means that an on-orbit assembly facility is needed -- and that will add a lot of cost to the mission. A lot more than 1000 tons.

    "$10 billion for fabrication" -- The main cost of a manned Mars mission is not the launch cost of the mission itself. It is the development of a whole bunch of stuff that does not currently exist that will cost a huge amount of money. You are acting as if all we have to do is build stuff that we already know how to build. We don't even know *what* to build, let alone know how to build it. This number is low by at an order of magnitude, minimum.

    "$10 billion for ground facilities" -- I hope not. This number is too high. Using commercial launch vehicles, the costs for those facilities will be borne by the launch provider. The fabrication and test monies should include facilities to accomplish that goal. If by "ground facilities" you mean ops, I sure hope we do not need a standing army to operate this Mars mission.

    "$30 billion for salaries" -- That's about 10,000 people for 10 years. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people. I suspect your $30 billion is an order of magnitude low, minimum.

    Bottom line: Your launch price per kg is hopefully too high, but that 1000 tons is probably too low. Call this a wash. You overestimated ground facilities costs, but that is irrelevant because your numbers for fabrication and salary are low by an order of magnitude. Your $60 billion is an order of magnitude low. At least.
     
  8. Feb 1, 2010 #7
    The prices taken from the SpaceX website are to LEO:

    Falcon 1 21.2K$/Kg
    Falcon 1e 10.4K$/Kg
    Falcon 9 4.2K$/Kg

    The Falcon 1 has already flown. If they are planning to up their prices they should update their web page. The Falcon 1e flies this year we will see if it meets the posted target.
     
  9. Feb 1, 2010 #8
    SpaceX employs about 800 people with which they are developing four launch vehicles and a manned capsule. I am not sure what the other 399,200 people will be doing.
     
  10. Feb 1, 2010 #9
    A tax payer.
     
  11. Feb 1, 2010 #10
    http://ares.jsc.nasa.gov/HumanExplore/Exploration/EXLibrary/docs/MarsRef/addendum/index.htm [Broken]

    From the NASA reference study 3.0 we get 410tons. They have many lists with high detail as to what. I am >2x more conservative then they are in total mass to LEO needed.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  12. Feb 1, 2010 #11

    russ_watters

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    Just out of curiosity, was that one a joke?
     
  13. Feb 1, 2010 #12

    D H

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    Those 800 people are building a smallish heavy lifter that is not human-rated. Besides, SpaceX has subcontractors. Are you really that naive to think that 800 people can build a vehicle that can take humans to Mars?
     
  14. Feb 1, 2010 #13
    No comment. :devil:
     
  15. Feb 1, 2010 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    By that logic, paying taxes qualifies one as a physicist as well. To blatently disregard the NASA estimates as 90% pork is a crackpot position.
     
  16. Feb 1, 2010 #15
    Nonsense.
     
  17. Feb 2, 2010 #16

    mheslep

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    Well, maybe to leave them there in a man made crater. Lunch not provided either.
     
  18. Feb 2, 2010 #17
    No. I am willing to assign 800 to the low Earth station, 800 to the high Earth station, 800 to the Earth to Mars transfer ship, 800 to the mars station, 800 to the Mars lander, and 800 to the mars base giving a total of 5600 people total. At $150,000 per year for ten years that is
    8.4 billion dollars. OK I do not see what the other 394,400 are going to do.
     
  19. Feb 4, 2010 #18
    America spends 20 billion dollars on Ice cream every year.

    I think 60 billion is a bargain.
     
  20. Feb 4, 2010 #19

    mheslep

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    The former is a voluntary choice by every individual, the latter would be an expense forced on many.
     
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