Apollo Cost Comparison
Apollo costs were driven by factors that don't
relate to the function of getting to the moon as commercial enterprise early
in the next century. Apollo had to invent everything, while we need very
little new technology to establish the initial base. Beyond that, the
realities of doing business as a government program drove up the cost of the
Apollo program by at least one order of magnitude. I'm not kicking Apollo
here; that's just the way the government does business. Federal procurement
regulations and having to play politics do not make for cost-efficient
programs. Our very best estimate for the cost of the first
flight is $1.421 billion in 1994 U.S. dollars, assuming the entire flight is done by private
enterprise to commercial aerospace standards. The next few flights could
be a bit less expensive because we don't have the development costs.
The mission we are developing is much less ambitious than the Apollo program. We
don't have to develop a new megabooster to put our entire spacecraft into
orbit in one shot, and our mission starts and ends in Earth orbit. The great
majority of the cost of Apollo was getting to Earth orbit, and then flying an
atmospheric entry. Even today we have many alternatives for getting the
hardware to orbit, and a couple of ways to get the crew there and back.
The current reference mission doesn't
depend on new lower-cost boosters. If a
new transportation system comes along, it means we can get there faster,
but $800 million of that $1.421 billion is for launch to Earth orbit.
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