The Orlando Sentinel reports that the estimated cost for the congressionally-dictated Space Launch System may be $38 billion.
The rocket and capsule that NASA is proposing to return astronauts to the moon would fly just twice in the next 10 years and cost as much as $38 billion, according to internal NASA documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
The money would pay for a new heavy-lift rocket and Apollo-like crew capsule that eventually could take astronauts to the moon and beyond. But it would not be enough to pay for a lunar landing — or for more than one manned test flight, in 2021.
Mark K. Matthews inaccurately wrote, "It effectively means that it will take the U.S. manned-space program more than 50 years — if ever — to duplicate its 1969 landing on the moon." I guess he forgot about Apollo 12, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17. As do those who claim China will beat us to the Moon. But I digress.
Some members of Congress recently complained about NASA withholding public release of the SLS design until an independent cost analysis was performed by consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. According to Matthews:
The firm's findings are expected in mid-August, and even agency insiders expect Booz Allen Hamilton to come back with a higher price tag given NASA's history of lowballing initial cost estimates.
Since 1990, the agency has been classified as "high risk" for cost overruns by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' financial watchdog, and studies of NASA programs by the Congressional Budget Office found overruns of 50 percent or more were routine.