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Unaffordable And Unsustainable?

Not that this suprises me (well, actually it does a little--even I didn't think that it would be this high), but if this is true, it's hard to imagine that there will be much enthusiasm for lunar missions. There certainly won't be from me, considering the alternate uses for the money:

...individual lunar missions using a CEV, CLV. CaLV, LSAM, LSAS, etc. are now estimated to cost $5 Billion each. By comparison, Space Shuttle missions cost $0.5 billion.

As always, that Shuttle figure has to be heavily caveated. Shuttle missions at current budgets would only be half a billion if we were launching eight to ten flights a year. The last Shuttle flight cost about five billion.

Like real estate, there are three rules of per-flight costs: flight rate, flight rate, flight rate.

And ESAS doesn't allow a high flight rate...

[Wednesday morning update]

As is almost always the case, I am frustrated by the ambiguous terminology in discussing costs. What does "individual lunar mission" mean? I took it to mean average cost based on annual operating expenses. That would imply ten billion a year for two flights a year. Is that right? If it were four flights a year, then this interpretation would imply a twenty billion annual budget. Some could interpret it to mean marginal cost, but that would be even more insane.

If the number is correct, I suspect that it was derived by taking the total life cycle costs of the program, including development, and dividing by the total number of planned missions. If that's the case, it looks like a reasonable number. A lot more than I'm willing to pay for it as a taxpayer, but it makes sense, given typical NASA program costs.


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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 11, 2006 11:09 PM.

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