How Much Does It Cost to Go to Space? $6.25 Billion.

May 30, 2020, marks another historic moment in American space ingenuity as astronauts resume their march into orbit aboard American technology. I wanted to know: how much does it cost to go to space in 2020?

I came to a total of $6.25 billion, all in.

The landmark achievement rode the back of a private commercial success in SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule on Falcon rockets.

In this post, I’ll break down the total expenditures SpaceX has incurred to reach this success. While the ISS rendezvous had direct costs much smaller than $6.25B, it’s the milestone achievement that Musk has aimed for since the start.

So, what did it take to get here?

Astronauts, Made in the USA

Before I dive into the details of how much it cost to go to space once again, I’d like to review a little of what SpaceX has accomplished with NASA.

Two NASA astronauts, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, recently completed their 19-hour trip to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). They’re riding in the Crew Dragon Capsule—or Dragon 2—in orbit around Earth.

The astronauts named their specific vehicle Endeavour, harkening back to the Space Shuttle they’re all too familiar with. The moment the Falcon rocket took off from Florida with its two American passengers was a milestone achievement in the Dragon concept that SpaceX started in 2005.

Sending Doug and Bob to the ISS via Crew Dragon.
Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken on the way to Crew Dragon

Starting from Zero, Astronauts Reached Orbit Aboard Dragon in a Decade

The five year period after Dragon began saw significant development in Dragon’s underlying systems. Dragon’s first structural test flight was mid-2010, coinciding with the Falcon 9 rocket’s maiden voyage.

By December 2010, an operational test flight was launched with Dragon riding Falcon 9’s second flight.

In 2011, NASA began searching for private enterprise to continue missions to the ISS. NASA’s Space Shuttle program ceased in July 2011 with its last mission to the ISS for cargo delivery.

Not even two years after its initial operational test flight, Dragon saw its first goods transportation mission success as it docked with the ISS in 2012. Between then and now, Dragon has had many successful resupply missions to the ISS. Each time, the team behind Dragon learned a bit more about the capsule and how to further its mission to eventually carry humans to space again. All the while, this private commercial company fulfilled its resupply missions to the ISS, funding the human component too.

By early 2019, SpaceX began testing the Crew Dragon spacecraft, a variant of the Dragon 2 capsule. As opposed to the Cargo Dragon, the Crew Dragon capsule was designed to carry astronauts. This is the variant that would, today, carry both American astronauts into space. Technically, Endeavour is the fifth Crew Dragon, though the second to space. The first Crew Dragon to space made a similar mission to today’s landmark ISS docking, but without any crew aboard.

Paying Russia to Launch Americans

Since 2011, NASA has paid Russia to send American astronauts to the ISS.

How much does it cost to go to space? Between 2011 and 2020, it was $80 million per seat aboard Russian Soyuz capsules.

Through July of 2019, NASA spent $3.9 billion on transporting 70 American or partner astronauts to and from the ISS. That’s an average of $55.7 million across the 70 seats.

How much does it cost to go to space on Dragon with SpaceX? NASA estimates that the first six missions, including today’s, will cost $55 million per seat aboard the Crew Dragon. [1]

It’s very hard to know exactly what SpaceX has spent since its inception so that we might understand the cost to take our first two American astronauts to orbit since 2011. This is because SpaceX is a private company—we don’t have public data to analyze.

With that limitation in mind, let’s take a look at the total funding and earned contracts SpaceX has received.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Space With SpaceX?

The closest we can get to understanding the total cost of sending astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to orbit in this mission is to total the known funding SpaceX has received for related work. This is from outside investment funding, personal funding from Musk, and delivered contracts from NASA.

There are some issues with this approach.

For one, SpaceX does much more than send astronauts to orbit.

The company also has contracts with the US Air Force, though some have not been completed, and others are more opaque.

SpaceX’s core business has been in sending humans and cargo to orbit or the ISS, so it makes sense to focus on outside funding to further that mission as well as known NASA contracts. While their recent delivery of a network of satellites designed to provide internet at a low cost caught a lot of attention, SpaceX’s primary revenue source is contracted deliveries to orbit and the ISS.

Let’s work through the funding to get an idea of how to answer: how much does it cost to go to space?

Elon Musk’s Personal Funding of SpaceX at its Inception

Most estimates put Elon Musk’s personal investment into founding SpaceX in 2002 at about $100 million. By 2008, SpaceX accepted $20 million in outside investment.

NASA was searching for private firms to be involved with human spaceflight in 2011. Funding awards were available to private companies that could help make that future a reality.

In the second round of commercial crew development funding awards, SpaceX earned $75 million to develop an integrated launch escape system for the Dragon capsule to improve human safety.

By 2012, estimates put Musk’s personal investment total at $100 million with another $100 million from outside investment. Estimates put the first decade of operational costs at about $1 billion. The difference, about $800 million, was from revenue on long-term launch and development contracts.

NASA’s Growth as a Source of Revenue for SpaceX

In August of 2012, SpaceX won an award worth $440 million from NASA. The award was intended to provide further funding for development and testing of the Dragon 2 spacecraft, with the Crew Dragon variant providing a method to take humans to the ISS once again.

By 2015, SpaceX raised additional outside funding in the amount of $1 billion. In 2017, another $350 million in outside funding was raised.

Later, SpaceX was awarded with another $2.6 billion worth of funding to certify the Dragon capsule for crewed flight by 2017.

Across 2019, SpaceX had multiple funding rounds with a total value of $1.33 billion. Early 2020 has already seen another $250 million in outside funding.

The Cost to Send SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule to Orbit with Two Astronauts

We can total Musk’s personal investment, outside funding, and NASA’s executed contracts to get an idea of how much money has gone into SpaceX over the last 18 years.

It’ll help us answer how much it costs to go to space in context of the entire SpaceX project from a scratch start to ISS docking.

This ignores some of the other, generally minor, funding sources SpaceX has received for more discrete work like USAF propulsion development. These are the funds that have been more focused on achieving the core mission of today’s flight, sending two American astronauts to the ISS.

To be clear: these funds have provided much more than to carry our first two astronauts on a private commercial vessel to the ISS.

They also represent the expenditures necessary to complete many resupply missions and progress towards future missions not yet completed. This is merely a snapshot in time of total funding SpaceX has received prior to a successful ISS docking mission with Dragon and crew.

DateAmount (USD, Millions)Source
2002100Elon Musk, Personal Funding
200820Outside Funding
201175NASA Award
201280Outside Funding
2012440NASA Award
20151000Outside Funding
2017350Outside Funding
20172600NASA Award
20191333Outside Funding
2020250Outside Funding
6,248Total Funding

SpaceX has most of the funds related to space logistics allotted to the company since its 2002 inception to reach today’s goal.

How much does it cost to go to space from scratch (and build an entire cargo network along the way)? $6.25 billion.

That may seem expensive if viewed as a bill to send these two astronauts, but remember that it’s the entire development and infrastructure it took to reach this point.

SpaceX will continue to provide crewed service and cargo service to the ISS, and much more, into the future.

The per-seat cost will amortize over time, drastically dropping with each successful mission.

NASA’s own estimates for the first six missions of Crew Dragon ring in at $55 million per seat.

This is the discrete cost NASA estimates for the Crew Dragon service. SpaceX has been able to obfuscate much of the development cost of Crew Dragon with its successful cargo missions as so much of the underlying systems are shared.

Space and Private Commercial Efficiency

I wrote an article a few years ago with a central theme of identifying the Apollo Program cost. That article identified the total cost, inflation-adjusted to 2020, at about $194 billion. While that crushes our $6.25 billion SpaceX mission cost for today, that was also a much loftier goal: humans on the moon. But, what about the first Apollo mission with a successful trip to orbit?

While Freedom 7 was the first American mission successfully to space with Alan Shephard onboard, Apollo 7 was the first Apollo mission to space. This mission was in 1968 and NASA began appropriating funds for the Apollo Program in 1960. Through 1968, NASA appropriated $14,105,420 for the Apollo missions.

How much did it cost to go to space in 1968 for the US? About $108 billion in costs for the first Apollo mission successfully in orbit with humans aboard, inflation-adjusted to 2020. [4]

SpaceX’s mission goes far beyond the ISS and orbit, eventually onto Mars. It’s not unlike NASA’s grandiose mission beyond Apollo 7.

Congressional testimony in 2017 discussed funding related topics for SpaceX and NASA. The estimate for the total development cost of Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets was $390 million. This estimate was independently verified. Prior to this development, NASA estimated it’d cost $4 billion to develop a rocket system like the Falcon 9 using their traditional methods. That’s approximately ten times SpaceX’s audited cost.

Will SpaceX be our Spacefaring Future?

As technological improvements continue to drive down the price of our phones, tablets, and computers, it does the same for rocket launch systems. SpaceX’s major innovations in rocket recovery have allowed it to drastically cut transportation costs. If estimates turn out to be accurate, NASA should reduce their per-seat cost for sending astronauts to the ISS by nearly half versus paying for Russian Soyuz seats.

There’s one other wild thing I noticed while watching today’s launch to orbit aboard SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule. The two astronauts only had one direct action button they could press: an emergency scrub button.

SpaceX has made launching humans to orbit an automated, algorithmic process controlled by computers. Let’s hope this “autopilot” to space creates safer launches and in turn, more efficient ones.

Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken opened up new doors for humans to explore the unknown, and they’ve done so by being as separated from the process as possible.

What was the cost to send two astronauts on a SpaceX rocket to orbit again?


  1. NASA’s Office of Inspector General, 2019 report:
  2. SpaceX, “Funding”:
    via Wikipedia
  3. Elon Musk’s Best Investments:
    via Investopedia
  4. NASA Budget Appropriations:
    via NASA History
  5. Imagery sourced from SpaceX
    SpaceX creative commons Flickr

Space Exploration Benefits and Its Future (NASA to SpaceX)

My father had his 60th birthday recently. Every so often I hear a story from him about the benefits of space exploration. He worries about how “things have changed” in the US.

He likes to distill the “things” to emotions like hope, faith, and exceptionalism.

It’s innocence that has been lost.

I always ask for anecdotes.

How have we “lost our way”?

Were the Moon Missions Worth the Cost?

The meandering explanation leads to the Space Program. The story goes that the Apollo Program was the apex of space exploration.

That losing the momentum of chasing a dream after shattering the need resulted in a slow-growing lethargy.

We underappreciate space exploration benefits and what the Apollo Program did for the US.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My father loves America. He’s a veteran, he’s worked hard to bring the American Dream to my family his entire life. I don’t know if he’s right about how “things have changed”. Perhaps it’s just with the benefit of time that we look back on history with rose-colored glasses.

Nostalgia is a cloudy set of specs.

Still, I can’t help but think of Norman Rockwell whenever the tale is spun. The family sits around the bubble-television watching on tenterhooks as the latest NASA mission is detailed. I can almost see my father there with a cowboy hat and a red wagon.

Apollo Space Program 1969 Norman Rockwell Art
“From the Earth to the Moon” by Norman Rockwell, 1969.

This thought of “innocence lost in America” isn’t unique to my dad. My uncles and aunts love to chime in with agreement when they’re around. I can nearly hear someone holding back a “kids these days” comment. My family wasn’t the first to think of this, either. In fact, “America lost its innocence”, verges on repetitive trope. I think it’s a loss of vision, a loss of priority.

Is the US Spending Enough on NASA’s Space Exploration?

Perhaps there’s an argument to be had with the benefits of space exploration. The U.S. isn’t spending like it used to. In the age of the Apollo Program, NASA’s portion of the federal budget hovered near 3% in some years.

The Apollo Program cost was outweighed by its tremendous benefits.

On average, NASA has cost about 1% of the federal budget. Space exploration, as a subset of NASA’s funding, is only a fraction of the U.S. federal budget.

Chart of NASA Budget as Percent of Federal Budget
NASA budget as a percentage of the federal budget

NASA funding is trending down. The 2015 budget request is for $17.5B, a bit less than 2014. It represents about 0.45% of the federal budget. $4B of that is dedicated to human space exploration. NASA is consistently underfunded, despite the fact that the public overestimates NASA’s cost. A 2007 study found that the average American thinks that we spend about 24% of our federal budget on NASA or about 48x reality.

NASA’s budget reality has been diverging from public perception for decades. It’s no wonder we have science celebrities panhandling to the public over half of a penny.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said it best with “We Stopped Dreaming”

Neil deGrasse Tyson delivers a powerful speech about a mindset in “We Stopped Dreaming”. A mindset where the average American would “think about tomorrow”. The idea that we, as a people, would look forward to technology advances; the possibilities unlocked from research and development.

Humans were galvanized to dream about the future. A future in which we have invested for the long term. This isn’t a future guided by quarterly reports or election cycles. It’s one in which we are guided by improving the human condition.

When the guiding light of exceptional goals is replaced with maintenance and status quo, dreams are shattered. The engineers, scientists, technologists, and mathematicians of tomorrow need to be led by the vision of exceptional goals. Without them, scientific progress stalls. Without a dream to pursue, we mortgage our future.

Benefits of Space Exploration

The Apollo Program yielded an incredible return on investment. The U.S. had real, tangible gains from the investments made in the project. The program was a major stepping stone into future beyond Earth projects.

Hardware developed during the Apollo era was used in Skylab, our first space station. Skylab produced valuable results through its solar observatory and experiments performed onboard. Skylab is just one of the spacecraft that would not have been feasible without knowledge from the lunar program.

In 1975 a space docking with the Soyuz spacecraft occurred. It was a major step toward rebuilding relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.. It played a key role in the end of the Cold War. A variety of breakthroughs in early breast cancer detection occurred. The accelerated development of integrated circuits was made possible through space exploration research. Several major spin-offs were the product of the lunar program. There are real benefits to space exploration.

Tyson makes a point in his speech. Perhaps the one in which this entire story is based upon. He suggests that having a cultural mindset where the people are internally invested in the future enables those very people to bring the future to the present. Perhaps that’s what my father means when he says “things have changed”.

Maybe there’s solace in a place we wouldn’t have expected it. Traditionally, the government has been the only source with the authority and resources to breach space. That might be changing. Can private entities with commercial needs exist within the vacuum of space?


SpaceX the Future of Space Exploration?
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft

I found myself anxiously waiting in front of a screen for a launch countdown. I’d say I’m a fan of space exploration, but I’m not the type to sit around watching rocket launches. I regret not having seen a Space Shuttle launch before the program ended, though. However, this felt like something entirely different. The Internet was awash in excitement for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft launch.

It wasn’t just the geeks and nerds, either.

Mainstream media had picked up the story and Elon Musk had become a celebrity. Musk founded SpaceX on the basis, eventually, Earth will no longer support our species. It’s a difficult concept to internalize as it’s an event far in the future, but it is inevitable. At some point, someone has to make the decision to spread humanity beyond Earth or our species dies with it. Across the globe, regular people were excited about space exploration again.

My screen had less of a bubble shape to it than did my father’s during the first lunar missions, but I bet the feelings were similar. I watched the ground crew at SpaceX as Dragon completed its mission. You could see what Tyson had described in his video. I was inspired. The internalized goals, desire, and faith in the dream their project created were written all over the faces of the young talent at SpaceX.

These engineers, scientists, technologists, and mathematicians were bursting with genuine excitement.

They had a cause and a dream.

Space Exploration Excitement at SpaceX Dragon Launch
SpaceX’s Dragon leaving HQ

Just like them, I felt a rush of excitement. It was excitement for technology, exploration; for moving the goal post further. NASA intends to go back to the MoonMars seems a little less impossible. Hell, Opportunity Rover completed a marathon:

It was excitement for the future.

The Future of Space Exploration

How will we move beyond the scope of the Apollo Program missions? SpaceX is doing a terrific job as a company, but to the general public, they’re little more than a goods transport service. A rocket-powered tractor-trailer. One which is primarily paid for by a publicly funded NASA.

As of 2020, SpaceX has raised the bar. They’ve answered how much does it cost to go to space with a successful crewed ISS docking.

Still, I’m not sure we have the right appreciation for the benefits of space exploration.

There will undoubtedly be more: a tractor-trailer that can support humans, one which can travel further into the solar system, a system by which to deliver a payload to Mars. Ultimately, private companies will rely upon public funding to reach uncharted territory because there’s little reason for other private money to participate. As public interest and funding fade, so goes the revenue source of dependent private companies.

If we haven’t made extending humanity beyond Earth a priority, one day, we’ll be forced off it. As much of a gift as Earth is, it will not last forever. If we can raise the desire to go out and explore — to stretch our boundaries — we may be ready for whichever event forces us off before it happens. If we can find that awe in space exploration again, we may avoid sitting on the Earthly-Titanic, scrambling for a lifeboat.

We can help by raising awareness of the benefits of space exploration: there are numerous NASA-supported inventions and advances already this year. We can help by telling our representatives that space exploration deserves at least a penny on the dollar. And we can help expressing interest in space exploration with friends and through social media: the excitement spreads.

It wasn’t a Saturn V or Shuttle launch, but I won’t forget watching the Dragon capsule’s first success. Humanity started down another possible avenue to expand among the stars. Not unlike my dad decades before, I sat by the screen watching and wondering in awe. All I needed was a cowboy hat and a red wagon.

This post published in the American Astronautical Society’s “Space Times” Magazine July/August 2015 issue.

This essay is a continuation of a post from 2009 detailing the Apollo space program cost. Give it a read if you liked this and consider sharing or commenting below!

All SpaceX photos courtesy their public domain gallery.

How Much Did the Apollo Program Cost (and Was It Worth It)?

Today I’m going to analyze the Apollo Program budget. We’ll answer: how much did the Apollo Program cost? I’ll also review the return on that investment in space exploration.

Were the Moon Missions really a worthwhile endeavor?

Did sending a man to the moon accomplish anything more than create celebrity in the dark Cold War times?

Apollo Program Cost

The idea of returning to the moon has gained great interest in recent times. NASA indicated that it intends to re-explore our closest space neighbor.

America is working hard to lower the cost to return to space with SpaceX recently sending the first two astronauts to the ISS since 2011 aboard hardware made in the USA.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Space? $6.25 Billion in 2020.

It seems that this has also created quite a bit of interest in our original moon exploration.

Let’s take a look at the hard numbers to see how the cost of going to the moon compares to the cost of other projects. Then I’ll tackle the subjective question of what gains can be attributed to going to the moon. 

But first up, how much did the Apollo Program cost?

The Apollo Program cost roughly $25.4 billion, unadjusted.

What’s the cost of Apollo Program in 2020 dollars? $194 billion.

That’s our total cost to go to the moon.

Consider, however, that this was for a project spanning from 1959 to beyond 1970 with six successful missions.

Eventually, Apollo 11 landed humans on the moon.

Consider that some 409,000 laborers were employed by the lunar program. These jobs were either directly through NASA, outside university research, or contracted workers.

Total US Federal Outlays vs. Apollo Program (1959-1972)

How does the total Apollo Program cost compare to the U.S. budget in the mission’s years?

US Federal Outlays vs. Apollo Program Cost

Let’s also look at the Apollo Program cost compared to other major government expenditures in U.S. history.

This data is adjusted for inflation to 2008 U.S. dollars.

Major US Government Expenditures vs. Apollo Program

NASA Apollo Program Budget

NASA’s official budget appropriations for the entire organization from 1960 to 1973, including work after the final Apollo mission, was $56.6 billion.

That means the Apollo Program budget represented 34% of NASA’s spending, $19.4 billion.

The total Apollo Program budget appropriations from NASA don’t quite match the calculated total Apollo Program cost already mentioned from official depositions ($25.4 billion). This is most likely because of other funding sources and cost overruns.

NASA Official Budget Appropriations, Apollo Program
NASA’s official Budget Appropriations during and for the Apollo Program, unadjusted, 1960-1973.

Adjusted for inflation to 2008, NASA’s entire budget for this period was about $363 billion.

Some of the work for Apollo began in 1959. The last Apollo mission flew in 1972. NASA provides data for 1960-1973 to represent Apollo as these were the years that had Budget Appropriations specific to Apollo.

The US annual federal outlays (the amount of money the country spends per year, which is typically more than our budget) from 1959 to 1972 totaled $1.9 trillion US dollars.  Converting these outlays from each of their years to an inflation-adjusted 2008 total brings the outlays to $11.9 trillion.

NASA represented roughly 2.2% of the total US federal outlays from 1959 to 1972. 

The Apollo Program in the same timeframe accounted for about 50% of NASA’s budget or just 1.1% of US total federal outlays during this timeframe.

Apollo Program vs Other Federal Projects

It is important to consider what the country has gained from the cost of the Apollo Program. 

I’m going to compare the gains of the Apollo Program against those of several large federal government projects or initiatives.

Let’s define some of the Apollo Program benefits first.

Apollo Program benefits

Apollo Program: Mission to the Moon

Aside from all of the historic achievements that made it into the history books through the Apollo Program, America had real, tangible gains from the investments made in the project.

For one, the Apollo program was a major stepping stone into future beyond Earth projects.

Much of the hardware developed during the Apollo era is in our first space station, Skylab. Skylab produced many valuable results based on its solar observatory and various experiments performed onboard, none of which would have been possible without the Apollo program.

Skylab is just one of many spacecraft that would not have been possible without the knowledge gained with the Apollo program.

The 1975 space docking with the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft was one of the major steps forward in rebuilding relations between the US and the USSR, eventually resulting in the end of the Cold War.

Benefits of the Apollo Program

The Apollo program created a variety of breakthroughs:

  • Early breast cancer detection
  • Integrated circuit development was sped up
  • Freeze-dried foods
  • Simplification of kidney dialysis
  • Insulation in an Alaskan pipeline
  • Spacesuit textiles in green building
  • And numerous more

The Apollo Program cost US taxpayers a significant amount of money but the benefits have been numerous.

The acceleration of research in fields that have benefited medicine, construction, and electronics pushed the country to lead the 20th century.

The cost to return to the moon

NASA estimated in 2005 that the cost to return to the Moon would be $104 billion over the course of 13 years.  These plans have recently come under great question. NASA has already invested some $7.7 billion in the project.

As of 2020, NASA’s goal is to return to the moon by 2024 via the Artemis program.

F-22 Raptor Project Cost & Benefit

The F-22 Raptor has been another source of much scrutiny at its expense.  The dominant, highly advanced Air Force backed fighter jet program had an estimated cost of $62 billion in 2006, $66.9 billion in 2008 US dollars.

That’s about half the cost of the Apollo program. 

As of this writing, the F-22 has never flown a combat mission (2020 edit: while still a questionable program fiscally, it’s flown many missions).

F-22 Raptor Program Cost

The F-22 program has provided the US with a spectacular dog-fighter, but we simply don’t currently live in an era that America has a direct competitor in this space. 

The fighter is so head and shoulders above the competition that it has no competition.

The US finds itself fighting against enemies where the F-22 simply does not make sense as a reasonable expenditure.

However, there is value in the US maintaining its technological lead in military hardware.  The US is so far ahead of other countries when it comes to conventional armies because of our constant investment. 

I can only hope the day comes that this is no longer a valid concern as the world unites to fight larger foes. Climate change, starvation, and over-population of our planet are just the beginning of the issues we face.

Interest on U.S. Debt Cost

The total interest paid on US federal budget debt was $140.3 billion during the Apollo Program timeframe ($870.56 billion 2008 US dollars).

This means that interest paid on debt accounted for 655% more outlays than the Apollo Program cost in the same period. 

For reference, the US paid $252.8 billion in 2008 in interest on the national debt—nearly twice the total cost of the entire Apollo program.

Taxpayers are funding horrendous amounts of interest on the debt of the current generation and its ancestors.

A single year of interest paid currently would pay for the entire original Apollo program.

It could cover the cost of a future Moon program and still have enough to produce most of the F-22 project.

While our country needs to get its debt wrangled, missing out on solid investments that pay dividends is foolhardy.

If we can pay out a few hundred billion dollars to reform health care and save the nation a few trillion dollars in the process—that’s an investment worth making (2020 note: consider the context this was written in 2008).

U.S. Interstate Highway System Cost & Benefit

The final cost for the Interstate Highway System to the Federal government started in 1956 by President Eisenhower was $114 billion by completion in 1991, about $500 billion in 2008 dollars.

That’s 376% the cost of the Apollo program.

Federal Interstate Highway System Cost

The Interstate Highway System has provided tens of thousands of government-sponsored jobs over the decades. It’s lead to much of the growth of the countries entire economic system.

Without this interstate highway system, how would our country have been able to move its goods to different regions for consumption and manufacturing?

The program is considered a necessity but another means of transportation was not weighed properly: railroads.

Prior to the Interstate Highway System, America revolved around the rails

Rails were much more widely used to transport goods and people around the country. Subsidies to the highway system eventually lead to the somewhat sorry state of our current rail system.

Look to Europe for an example of a system still capable of using a modicum of transportation techniques across a fairly large distance.  The highway system was vital to the culture and development of the US.

However, I believe that a slightly more balanced development of the highway system alongside the rail system could have lead to a strong, less car-dependent country.

Vietnam War Cost & Benefit

The cost of the Vietnam War from 1965-1975 was $111 billion or $686 billion in 2008 US dollars.

That’s 516% the cost of the Apollo program.

It’s a bit hard to describe the gains from the Vietnam War as we certainly lost many brave souls in the conflict.

The US was able to gain military experience which lead to a more thorough victory in Desert Storm.

During this period, the voting age was lowered to 18 from 21.

The military draft was eliminated.

An all-volunteer system was instated after the war.

U.S. Economic Stabilization (2008 Recession) Cost & Benefit

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 has authorized the Treasury Secretary to spend up to $700 billion taxpayer dollars. 

There is hope taxpayers will come out of this bailout program without too deep of a loss.

A portion of the expenditures should result in profits to offset the expected losses.  The true cost of the recent Federal bailouts of the financial sector are unknown.

If the program suffers a complete loss, it would represent 526% of the cost of the Apollo program.

The state of the economy was unclear for several years after the 2008-2009 Great Recession.

Would our nation have withstood the damage of the Great Recession without the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008?

The economic program cost taxpayers up to $700 billion.

It’s hard to say, we can’t rewind time, toss out the policy, and see what would have happened.

Economists generally agree that the Great Depression of the ’30s arose so strongly because of the hands-off approach of the governing body at the time.

With the country facing a dire recession, modern government has taken a much more hands-on approach. A variety of bailout-related acts were passed in an attempt to stabilize the country’s weakening economy.

Only time will tell how successful these programs have been.

Iraq and Afghanistan Wars Cost & Benefit

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated by the CBO to cost $2.4 trillion by 2017, $1.9 trillion attributed to Iraq.

Much of the cost of the war has been from deficit spending.

Iraq and Afghanistan War Costs

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are still in progress (2020 note: STILL).

The entire notion of our country even entering these wars has thoroughly divided much of the US population, but I’ll attempt to stick to the facts.

The wars are estimated to cost the country some $2.4 trillion, nearly twenty times the Apollo Program cost.

The human cost in Iraq is estimated at over 100,000 lives, with over 30,000 being Americans.  

There have been thousands of more casualties in Afghanistan

Economically, we’ve gained greater access to natural resources in the region (oil). 

We’ve prevented the growth of radical anti-Americanism in some specific regions but many would argue that the whole ordeal has also created a negative attitude towards the US.

Was the Apollo Program worth it?

The jobs created, the technology gains, the intangible feeling of love for the country, American ideals, the future of generations, and hope for spreading humankind through the galaxies are just some of which was inspired by and created from the Apollo Program missions.

I find it difficult to argue against the comparatively low Apollo Program cost, especially when looking at other significant expenditures taken on by the U.S.

Why are we so worried about attempting to push the envelope further with more space exploration?

Any future Moon landing project is just a stepping-stone for Mars and beyond.

The US is working with private industry to create efficient ways to send astronauts to space and beyond.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Space? $6.25 Billion in 2020.

Do you really believe humankind will survive on Earth into perpetuity?

Part Two, this analysis continues in:
Space Exploration Benefits and Its Future (NASA to SpaceX).

Apollo Program Cost FAQ

How much did the Apollo Program cost in today’s dollars?

The Apollo Program cost roughly $25.4 billion, unadjusted, in 1973. In 2020 dollars, that’s about $194 billion adjusted for inflation.

How much did Apollo 11 cost?

The total cost of the Apollo Program, including Apollo 11, was $25.4 billion, unadjusted.

How much did it cost to go to the moon in 1969?

NASA’s total budget appropriations for the Apollo Program through 1969 was $16.1 billion per official documents. The total cost of the Apollo Program up through about 1974 was $25.4 billion. Both amounts are unadjusted for inflation.