September 27, 2014

Mars On A Dime

So no one can seem to believe that India made it into orbit around Mars for just $74M.  

According to the Wall Street Journal that compares with $671M that it cost NASA (which arrived just 3 days earlier than India's) and the European Space Agency's mission that cost $386M in 2003,

But aside from the Indian's being able to achieve a Mars mission at a tenth the cost of what we did, BBC reported that they also did it $26M cheaper than even the cost of the science fiction movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock about the International Space Station. 

While we clearly go the extra mile and are able to do great things--why does it always cost us so much to get there?

Perhaps, you can say that we are somehow more diligent or careful in our work (i.e. putting a premium on safety) or that it's just the higher cost of labor in this country or that we are early innovators and incur the costs of research and development that others than leverage. 

However, even though we are considered a very wealthy nation, it is fair to ask whether we are managing our wealth with discretion and an eye to the future or do we just take it for granted and are wasteful with it?

With a $3.9 trillion federal government budget (note, this is a full 21% of the entire U.S. economy/GDP), we are talking about some serious money, and we should be getting the most for it.

Unfortunately, the gravy train extends from certain "Beltway Bandit" contractors--e.g. remember the $640 toilet seats, $7,600 coffee makers, and $436 hammers uncovered by the Project on Government Oversight--and apparently all the way to mission Mars. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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