NASA finally has a plan to get back to the Moon … with cobbled-together Space Shuttle parts. The first time we went, it took 8 years and cost $135 billion (in 2005 dollars). According to CNN, this time around we’ll get there in 13 years, and it’ll cost $104 billion (in 2005 dollars).
When’s the last time a government program met its deadline and its budget forecast, hmmm?
More from Time Magazine:
The plan makes good, hard engineering sense, but as always with NASA, the problem is less in the engineering than in the politics. For one thing, the agency says it will take no more than $104 billion over 13 years to pull the project off, necessitating no increase in NASA funding. That sounds like way too free a lunch. The next manned NASA program that comes in on time and under budget will be the first. The space station — easily NASA’s biggest fiscal and political disaster — will cost more than 12 times its original projections.
Just as important, there’s a whiff of dithering around that 13-year time frame. It was in 1961 that President Kennedy challenged the U.S. to go to the moon; eight years later we were leaving footprints there — and that was before we’d even put a man in orbit. It shouldn’t take so long to go back. A contemporary program with a 13-year deadline is precisely the kind of undertaking that can be frittered into nothing if future administrations lose the interest or the revenue to keep pursuing it.