Reply to post: Cost?

NASA wheels out Habitation prototypes while SpaceX encounters problems with parachutes

vtcodger Silver badge

Cost?

If you haven't Googled "Moon Base Cost" I suggest doing so. The answer, of course, is that no one knows what putting a research station on the moon will cost beyond the obvious "lots". The research station will likely be called a "colony", but my bet will be that it'll be more like the US South Pole Station -- permanent staff 45. But probably much smaller. Maybe 10-15. Cost estimates are in the $30-$50 billion range, but that's likely low because no actually knows the costs. An underrun of only $20 billion might be possible, but an equal overrun would be $80 billion. The James T Webb Observatory (a product of the 1990s "faster, better, cheaper" era) where every possible thing seems to have gone wrong is now 14 years late and total cost of 19.6B vs an initial estimate of 500M. That's a 1900% overrun. Further slips and overruns there are certainly possible.

My question is not whether a return to the moon can be done. It almost certainly can. I just wonder whether it is a prudent use of resource. $50B would probably pay for 30 or 40 lunar rovers. Mars rovers cost about 2.4B, but getting them to Mars safely is extraordinarily difficult. Lunar rovers should be much cheaper? My contention is that a few dozen lunar rovers and maybe a couple of quick trips to return rock samples will tell us far more about the moon than a dozen folks burrowing in a cave in some crater or other possibly can.

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