The rocket and spacecraft NASA plans to use to get astronauts to the moon could cost $50 billion, according to a government watchdog report released Tuesday — far more than the space agency had said it would need to meet a White House mandate to return to the lunar surface by 2024….The new IG report blames both NASA’s lax oversight of the program and Boeing’s poor performance for costly delays that would ratchet up the price beyond the $35 billion NASA previously had said it would cost to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.
You’d figure that since we’ve already been to the moon once, our second try should be a lot less expensive. And you’d be right: the Apollo program cost about $150 billion in today’s dollars. If Orion really does come in at $50 billion it will be a pretty good bargain.
I remain unclear on why exactly we want to resume manned missions to the moon—and please don’t say helium-3. Personally, I’d be a lot more interested in building a true orbiting space station infrastructure that’s maybe a hundred times the size of what we have now. But if that’s a dumb idea too, I’m happy to wait until technology has advanced before we spend more money on putting lots of meat sacks into space. I don’t think it would be a long wait in any case.