NASA will spend more shutting down a failed launch system than Elon Musk spent building a successful one. http://bit.ly/hjr4VC
Seriously, since Obama rightly pulled the plug on the Constellation Program after NASA knew for years that it would be even more expensive than the bloated and crumbling Shuttle program… politicians with their snout in the barrel have wasted over $250 million dollars continuing various dead ended programs and dragging their feet on the shutting down process of others. I wouldn’t be surprised if, once the politicians have had their fill, it came close to $3 billion just to grind the program to a halt.
Not long ago, Elon Musk said that Space X had spent about $250 million to go from an idea to launching rockets.
So, starting years after NASA and spending about 5% of what they did… Space X has launched rockets while NASA has rendered out a bunch of spiffy computer models and managed to cobble together a few “proof of concept” bits and pieces using off the shelf hardware that wasn’t ever going to be part of the finished designs.
There was more to the Constellation program but about half of the budget was expected to go to the Ares and Orion portions which are analogous to the Falcon and Dragon from Space X. These two pieces of the Constellation program were expected to be more than $90 billion over the 20 years of the program… but I don’t know if NASA has come in at less than 150% over budget on any of their big programs in the last 40 years.
I suspect Elon Musk won’t spend a tenth of that on getting Space X far past the goals that NASA was going to miss as badly as they did with the Shuttle Program. It makes a difference when it is your own money that you are spending rather than money you’ve taken from someone else.
Obama made one of his few rational decisions when he cancelled the Constellation Program. If NASA is to continue existing at all, it should be in basic research and exploration- not in building the equivalent of trucks, hotels and gas stations.
NASA could offer to buy those services and maybe work with the X Prize Foundation to create incentives for creating and delivering infrastructure. It would cost tens of billions of dollars less and the money would only be spent if the private world comes through.