Subject:::Golden Spike vs. Apollo - Part 2 - Cost, Technology, Management - Satellite Spotlight Satellite Spotlight eNewsletter
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December 10, 2012

Golden Spike vs. Apollo - Part 2 - Cost, Technology, Management

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Some skeptics of the Golden Spike company’s plan to put commercial astronauts on the Moon have focused in on the system's price tag (News - Alert), Golden Spike CEO Alan Stern put the R&D costs at $7 billion to $8 billion with single mission costs for a two person crew at around $1.5 billion. The estimated full up cost for the 1960s Apollo program ran to $110 billion in 2012, including the development and testing, averaging out to a whopping $18 billion per landing.

“I would say that Stern doesn’t have enough zeros in his budget,” policy expert John Pike told Wired, asserting there's been no improvements in rocket technology since "the days of Kennedy."  Wired also seems to believe the Big Rocket Cabal philosophy that you need something massive and heavy in order to get to the Moon, preferably stacked on the largest rocket you can build.

However, it might be a more true statement to say rocket manufacturing hasn't advanced much since the 1960s, while a host of other enabling technologies has continued to evolve at a rapid clip. For example, Apollo era space navigation problems, which once took over three minutes to calculation on IBM (News - Alert) mainframes, are now run on off-the-shelf PCs and software in a couple of mouse clicks. Materials engineering has advanced significantly. Add in new aluminum and steel alloys, composites, and the low cost of titanium vs. the 1960s to get both weight savings and improved performance over Apollo-era projects... Read More

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