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Actual Costs for the Space Station

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the astronomical-expenses dept.

Space 780

Cujo writes "This article in discusses what the actual costs of the space station have been since it was first proposed by President Reagan in 1984. Depending on how you account for the cost of shuttle launches, the number is well over $40 billion in the U.S. alone. It begs the question of what else could have been done with the same money and far superior management."

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I am teh l33t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804172)

National debt. (1, Funny)

thinkninja (606538) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804179)

Could have decreased it considerably. Or built a huge shrubbery...Nee.

Re:National debt. (2, Insightful)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804230)

Huh? The US national debt is at $6.3Trillion dollars. $40Billion wouldn't do squat.

And .... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804186)

Pee with the Forrest Newmans!

Be Be Boop Be Be Be Boop Boop!

Come on everybody .... sing along, ok!

Holy fuck that's a lot of money. (-1, Flamebait)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804192)

I mean, holy FUCK that's a lot of money.


And all that so Dennis Tito could listen to tunes and look at the pretty view?

Re:Holy fuck that's a lot of money. (3, Funny)

dildatron (611498) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804223)

Dear Sir,

Could you please express the amount of money in a currency we slashdotters could understand? We prefer either metric assloads or libraries of congress.

Thank you,


Re:Holy fuck that's a lot of money. (2)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804334)

Let's see, put $40B in Slashdot terms... It's enough money that every man, woman, and child in China could watch Lord of the Ring around 4 times!

Re:Holy fuck that's a lot of money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804374)

HAH HAHAHAHA hahaha heeheh LOL ROTFLMFOA *snort* jeezUS pissmypants lol HAH hehe ahahrhrahr har heh whoo-yeah stop it you're killing me! hahah AHHA hahah AHHA metric assloads! oh man lol milk out my nose haha HAHA hehe arharharaharharha ahahah *chortle* fuck that's funny HAHAH hahaha HAHAHA HA hah dee har har my sides hurt yee-haaa LOL i mean out LOUD coffee on my screen HAHAHA ahhh haha hahheha hehera hee hahah i get it slashdot geeks HAHAH ahahah HAHHA oh man sheesh *sniff* haha hahah hah aw fuck.

Re:Holy fuck that's a lot of money. (3, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804317)

I mean, holy FUCK that's a lot of money.

The real question that should be asked is 'is the space station justified at all', not merely whether it could be done slightly cheaper. The project would still be overpriced at $5 billion.

Consider that the SSC would have provided far more science for $10 billion. Or for that matter consider how much science we could get by sending up a duplicate of Hubble - many of the parts exist already as test pieces for the orbitting Hubble, the test mirror made by Kodak was actually done right.

Or consider what a boost to the economy we could get by giving the same money to rich corporate campaign contributors. $40 billion is more than the retrospective tax handouts that Bush wanted to give Enron.

Or even (gasp) think what could be done if the same amount had gone into other research areas such as biotech or the Internet. There is a reason the Web was born at CERN, they had the resources to do that type of work.

The economist had a good article recently where they speculat that NASA asked Nixon for funding for a mars mission and got rejected, so they split the mission into three parts, first a reusable space shuttle, then a space station, finally a mars mission.

Since then the obvious conclusion to draw from the success of the unmanned missions is that they are cheaper and result in more science.

you could ... (2, Insightful)

zoftie (195518) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804194)

develop new type of nuclear warhead ...
wage war on iraq ...
extend your efforts in war on terrorism ...
etc etc. I'd rather pour money into this *dead end* project then sponsor arms race.

Re:you could ... (0, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804319)

I'd rather pour money into this *dead end* project then sponsor arms race.

Yeah, god forbid we spend money on preserving freedom, liberty and yes, capitalism, which gives us the ability to do space exploration.

I can easily make the argument that the money spent on defense is orders of magnitude more valuable than money spent ANYWHERE else.

we could have (1, Funny)

k3v0 (592611) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804195)

fought a whole lot more in the war on drugs... hope the sarcasm doesnt drip on anything important.

Is $40 billion really that much? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804197)

I mean, consider how much was blown by dot coms durings the 90s. Atleast space exploration is neat.

Re:Is $40 billion really that much? (2)

tgd (2822) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804258)

There is no exploration, or innovative technology development going on in regards to the space station.

Its nothing but an absolute total waste of money.

Re:Is $40 billion really that much? (3, Insightful)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804326)

"Its nothing but an absolute total waste of money."

Which is more likely:

- A numnber of very intelligent people from a variety of countries have teamed up to build a big waste of money.


- A number of very intelligent people from a variety of countries have teamed up to do something that you don't have all the details on.

Re:Is $40 billion really that much? (2)

jandrese (485) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804347)

Yeah, and we didn't need that stupid velcro either! Why can't they just give that $40 Billion to me?

Re:Is $40 billion really that much? (3, Insightful)

doctor_oktagon (157579) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804320)

No real money was spent in the .com boom.

It was all fake "internet" money, usually involving worthless shares! ;-)


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804199)

We make good space station already for much less money!

I'm sorry... (0, Insightful)

craenor (623901) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804200)

But $40 million is nothing. The possibilities of space exploration, research, null gravity mechanics and engineering are limited only by our imaginations.

If someone told you a government project in the works for almost 20 years had cost us $40 million would your initial reaction be that this was a large amount of money or a great deal?

Considering the staggering number of scientific discoveries that await us outside of Earth's atmosphere, you could tell me this was a $40 million a year project and I wouldn't blink.

I think the bulk of the people bitching about this price tag lack vision and spend too much of their lives living today without giving any thought to living tomorrow.


Re:I'm sorry... (1)

Wiggums62 (513122) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804220)

Uh, try $40 billion. $40 billion is something.

Re:I'm sorry... (1)

los furtive (232491) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804247)

That's right, a thousand times one million, that's one billion!

$40 million IS nothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804226)

But $40 BILLION, which is the number in question, could have paid for vastly more real science than has ever been done on the ISS.

Re:I'm sorry... (0)

rocket97 (565016) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804241)

that is 40 Billion with a B not 40 Million

Re:I'm sorry... (1)

craenor (623901) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804321)

I meant $40 Billion, just typed Million by mistake, then repeated that mistake. My point stands though, $40 billion is nothing. The U.S. Government spends almost 5x more then that yearly on defense.

And before someone starts in on, no, I'm not saying we spend too much on defense. I'm saying we have plenty of money to invest in projects with such a grand potential for return.

Just because we can't say, The ISS is going to revolutionize us because of _______. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try like hell to fill in the blank.

Re:I'm sorry... (2)

chaidawg (170956) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804248)

$40 Billion. You're 3 magnitudes of order low.

B not M (2)

Christopher Bibbs (14) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804253)

Billion so it was more like $2 billion a year. Does that make you blink? Personally, $1 billion a year is enough to make me care about how we're spending it.

Dyslexia and rhetoric.. (1, Funny)

thinkninja (606538) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804302)

Gets you modded up. Okay.

Re:I'm sorry... (1)

Sherloch Hemloch (514137) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804306)

This is a valid point, but at however many billions of dollars a year, when are we to see a return in our investment? A couple of days ago my brother and I were discussing this very point: Has anyone SEEN anything come from this except for infighting and pointing fingers? In the '50/60/70s we saw some forward technological movement in the space program now it seems it's content with rebuilding where its been *cough*Skylab*cough* I'm all for spending money on space exploration, but let's DO some, for crying out loud!

Re:I'm sorry... (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804315)

I agree. 40 Thousand is NOTHING. I earn more than that in a year, why I suspect most Slashdotters do. Most people couldn't buy a house on 40 Thousand and yet here's NASA able to fund an entire space program for the cost of two Ford Crown Victorias, using piddly amounts of money to get us space colonies on Jupiter and mines on Neptune.

These complainers need to find something else to complain about, like the crippling cost of state funded healthcare in this country.

Re:I'm sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804376)

your attempt at humor just crashed and burned

Re:I'm sorry... (1)

dr_canak (593415) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804346)

I am all for new technology and certainly understand the huge gains in technology we see that were/are the direct result of space exploration research and military research. With that said, Robert Parks in "VooDoo Science" has a very good chapter on why the ISS was doomed to be a failure, and how there could have been so much more future gain in technology had the R&D money been spent elsewhere (unmanned space exploration for example). It's a very interesting chapter in a good book, and certainly gave me a different perspective on a project I initially thought was quite important.

Re:I'm sorry... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804349)

That's BILLION with a B, not million you stupid fucking son-of-a-bitch. Why don't you learn how to read and take your dick out of your mom's quivering asshole long enough to preview your posts, or maybe read the original aritcle you stupid cunt. You are as fucking retared at a dried out turd. Maybe your hand is stuck in the cum stains your boyfriend left on your pillow and you couldn't use the backspace key. What the fuck ever you are still on idiotic mutherfucker. Tell you what, cum splot, I'll trade you a million dollars for a billion! I bet you were one of those ass-faced kids who traded dimes for nickels because they were bigger. Let's put this in perspective - your mom has sucked off about a million guys, but no where close to a billion. Yet. Give that aids-infested cunt some time and I'm sure she will. What a fucking whore. Anway, learn to fucking post you stupid asshole bleeding cunt fucker. BBBB BILLION not Million duuuuh!

Waste of money (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804201)

sending people to space is cool and all, but why not use the resources to find a cure for cancer or aids or do something for the homeless?

yeah, i know thats not the way government works


Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804276)

By your logic, we'd determine the one major problem for people/society, and then that would be the sole focus of all of our resources. Most people disagree with that approach, and prefer to spread the funding around to different areas. You never know where the next great discovery may come from.

Re:Waste of money (2)

gclef (96311) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804316)

You know, every time I read this argument, I think the same thing:

Why *only* work on the big-name problems? Are we so limited in our abilities that we can only work on one problem at a time? There are tons of people working on a cure for cancer, aids, etc. Do we really need to fling *everyone* at it? (And has no one read "The Mythical Man Month"?)

To answer my own questions: No. We *are* working on the big problems. We are *also* working on the cool stuff. The idea that we should only work on one thing at a time always seems...short-sighted.

Re:Waste of money (3, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804338)

Of course you don't take into account the myriads of scientific and technical discoveries that have come from the space program.

Many of them apply directly to medicine or something for the homeless. We get more out of the space program than nifty pictures of earth from way up high.

Whether we got 40 billion worth is debatable.


BTW, you cant write a 40 Billion dollar check to someone and jot down 'for curing AIDS' or 'to end homelessness' in the memo section. It doesnt work like that.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804359)

There is already more money spent on the things you mention...throwing more money at them will not result in sudden solutions to the problems.

Re:Waste of money (5, Funny)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804362)

"sending people to space is cool and all, but why not use the resources to find a cure for cancer or aids or do something for the homeless?"

Because an aerospace degree doesn't automatically make you eligible to cure cancer?

NASA has to leave earth orbit! (5, Insightful)

hpulley (587866) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804205)

I hope NASA will stop wasting money in earth orbit getting no research done with expensive meatbots. They should save the big bucks and human beings for the real deals, the Moon, Mars and beyond!

NASA claims that the ISS is paving the way for long-term space flight but Mir had already done that. Paying to help the Russians to keep Mir going would have been much cheaper but was not politically acceptable which is a real shame.

quick question (4, Interesting)

rocket97 (565016) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804207)

is that the actual amount spent on it or is that including inflation? I am not sure what the rate of inflation has been since 1984 but I am guessing that it would be moderatly higher. Also you have to take into account that the technology back then was far more expensive than it is today so that can also drasticly add to the costs of the project.

Conflicted (2)

NecrosisLabs (125672) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804209)

I have mixed emotions about the ISS. On one hand, it is a boondoggle of epic proportions; huge amounts of money shot into space for results that could mostly be obtained from unmanned satellites.

On the other, keeping people in space is important if we want to expand our horizons for manned missions to other planets. And, of course, space travel is neat. Is "neat" worth $40 Billion?

Re:Conflicted (4, Insightful)

foistboinder (99286) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804333)

On the other, keeping people in space is important if we want to expand our horizons for manned missions to other planets.

Unfortunately, space stations have always been the "safe" fallback position for manned space flight. When it was clear the Russians lost the moon race, they shifted their program to space stations. Instead of more moon exploration or a manned Mars mission the U.S.A. did the same.

When nobody has the balls to propose anything bold for manned spaceflight, we end up with a space station of somewhat limited utility. It would be cool if we had a space station that served as an assembly and launching point for manned expoloration, but that's not what we have in the ISS.

easy (4, Funny)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804210)

1. Tell Congress to give us the money and stay the fuck away until it's time for us to ask for more money.
2. Put two Soyuz capsules up there so two people can do science while another three do maintenance. A sixth person can be any random rich person paying oodles of cash for the opportunity to scrub toilets IN SPAAAAAAAACE.
3. Let the Russians handle station operations. If that's disagreeable then hire as many Russians away from Russia as needed. They know how to handle space stations, we don't.

NASA should benchmark other organizations, (4, Interesting)

Adam Rightmann (609216) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804214)

organizations that capitalize on the intellectual assets and fervor of their members, rather than throwing money at problems and overengineering them.

If NASA has the attitude that having a space station that was 99% safe, instead of 99.99% safe, and relied on the skill of the residents astronauts to fix any problems, we'd have the dual torus in 2001, instead of a little tin can. Good luck getting that in today's wiffle world.

Any history buff can tell you just how far a few, determined, idealistic men can go in changing history. Someday I may tell you how 13 men took on an Empire, and altared history (for the better), forever, 2000 years ago.

Re:NASA should benchmark other organizations, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804329)

Someday I may tell you how 13 men took on an Empire, and altared history (for the better), forever, 2000 years ago.

Go ahead and give it a shot. My money says that you've got a bucket full of half-baked ideas.

Re:NASA should benchmark other organizations, (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804363)


so says "Jerusalem Slim", the first Wobbly

Nothing (5, Insightful)

RebelTycoon (584591) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804215)

Let's face it... The money would have gone to the military. If you are thinking education, poverty, medicare, you are dreaming.

Of course, for this $40B US there was probably some re-investment back into hi-tech, science, research grants, and areospace.

I don't think its been wasted, its just hard to gauge the return on investment.

Re:Nothing (1)

DwarfGoanna (447841) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804287)

Let's face it... The money would have gone to the military.

Isn't that where most of the fruits of space research end up going (directly or indirectly) anyway? Yes, telecommunications and such have been a boon to us all(?), but isn't that what these things were originally designed for? Even when the shit doesn't work? (see SDI) =)

Re:Nothing (2, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804339)

There is another option. Pay down the debt/reduce taxes.

Re:Nothing (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804366)

You got a calculator handy?

~6.3 Trillion - ~40 Billion = ~6.3 Trillion

'Paying off the debt' is really just political fodder for election time. Big giant meaningless numbers to sway the masses of the ignorant.

presidential reform (1)

EEgopher (527984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804217)

we could have used that money to form a coalition that would elect Pennywise the Dancing Clown as president of the U.S.

who's with me!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Well, considering... (0, Troll)

sirsky (53613) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804221)

They pay $20,000 for a hammer, $50,000 for a toilet's not really suprising.

Re:Well, considering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804293)

That is the DOD (they use it hide expenses from Congres), not NASA. NASA wastes money straight up forward by using just a few companies.

Re:Well, considering... (2)

MrWinkey (454317) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804367)

They pay $20,000 for a hammer, $50,000 for a toilet's not really suprising.

Camon? Haven't you seen that Will Smith movie Independnce Day where they explain that's how they hide stuff?

The quote is something of "Do you think we really pay 50k for a toilet seat?"

How else could we fund the CIA's covert op's where they fly cool alien spacecraft????

A good idea, in theory (1)

SolarInfinity (630291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804222)

The space station, in theory, was/is a good idea. If we ever plan to send manned missions to Mars and beyond we need an orbital platform for at the very least, studying the long(er)-term effects of near zero-g.
Along with some science, that's about all ISS is good for. It doesn't have the facility for being used to assemble a craft in orbit.

IMO, while ISS is a good idea, it's not worth nearly $40 billion, let alone whatever the combined total comes out to be. It doesn't even seem like it's a step towards better things to come.

Points for effort (1)

farnham (160656) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804228)

At least the countries involved in the Space Station have a commitment (albeit Vaporous) in manned space travel. It's a case of something being better than nothing.
that 40 billion could have easily been pissed away on stealth bombers or upholding dictatorial regimes.

I'm happy that some kid will be driven to become an engineer because he/she is fascinated with what's going on. Alternatively they might be driven by wanting to make it better.

the $$? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804235)

Could have almost funded Bill Gates' daily gold star rim-job. Almost.

$40000000000 USD.... (2)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804237)

Windows licensing fees!

Begs the Question vs Raises the Question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804238)

Begging a question is a fallacy in an argument. I wish that people would use this term correctly!! I think these figures raises the question as to if this money was well spent.

Why not (1)

davilan (603843) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804242)

Cure Cancer Cure AIDS Feed the worlds hungry and with the extra change- Dust off one of those old Saturn V Apollo rockets and go to the moon to see if that stuff is actually up there...

expense (5, Insightful)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804245)

Why dont' people count how many space stations one could build at a cost of, for example, the most recent tax cut ? 10 ? 20 ? .. hell, I'd send back my $300 refund to have a few bigger space stations and an outpost on Mars. Would you ?

Blame Congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804249)

Bah. If congress hadn't told them to redesign it twenty times over because they thought the original cost was too high, they could have built a real station that means something for half that. Blame Congress and their stonewalling of the program during the 80's and 90's for the cost overruns, not NASA.

compared to the military budget... (2)

g4dget (579145) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804251)

What's the military budget been over the same span? Let's say 18 years at a minimum of $200 billion/year, that's at least $3.6 trillion.

I think the space station is a useless waste of money. But we have probably wasted many times that on weapons systems we don't need, that don't work, and that even the military doesn't want.

Pork Politics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804254)

Every single scientist I know, hates the ISS. It robs money from much more valuable science.

So why do we have it? Because NASA is very sly about making sure they have contractors in all of the important congressional districts.

As a side note, I would estimate that most scientists and engineers would agree that a much quicker and surer road to the permanent presence of humans in space would be to scrap *all* of NASA's current manned space flight programs and invest that money in research on the next generation launch technologies, instead of throwing it down the toilet with horse and pony shows like the ISS.

what you could do: (1)

tijnbraun (226978) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804256)

donate 37 dollar cents to at every person in the world for 18 years... is that a lot or not? dunno

40 Billion USD (1)

bouis (198138) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804260)

Is a small price to pay for progress. Besides, most of it was spent right here in the U.S.A.; it's jobs and technology for Americans.

A much better use of money than social programs where countless billions are funneled out of the country, eventually ending up in Colombia or Afghanistan.

Cost VS Benefit (5, Interesting)

TTMuskrat (629320) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804265)

They had an astronaut on the morning show I listen to today talking some of the benefits of the Space Station. One was the ability to grow human tissue in 3D - in gravity, the tissue gets flattened when grown in a petri dish - which is helping them in researching tissue-type diseases like cancer (I'm sure this was much simplified for not-quite-awake listeners :) ). I think that if a cure for cancer comes out of the ISS, then the price was worth it. On the flip side, we would probably have to start living in outer space due to overcrowding caused by everyone living alot longer. :D

load of crap (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804322)

I do reseaech on tissue engineering. There is very little benefit to growing tissues in zero gravity. To keep it from getting flattened out all you need is some sort of 3D matrix for the tissue to grow in.
The astronaut was talking out of his ass.

The cost/benefit ratio for biomedical research in space is horrible. Don't kid yourself.

consideration (2, Interesting)

John_Renne (176151) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804268)

Allthough $40 billion is quit a lot you should consider the project has been of value too.
- Scientist have been able to do research otherwise impossible.

- The program has provided jobs to a lot of people on the floor

It is often forgotten science and research are valuable investments. And also on the bright side. This money isn't spent on warfare, defense etc. At least they tried to spend with good intentions

Mars anyone?? (3, Insightful)

dciman (106457) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804269)

I realize that the space station *could* provide a great resourse for doing scietific experiments for the entire world. But, with the current budget situation and the chances of it being mothballed, I seriously think we could have spent that money in a much better way. I can't imagne that a manned mission to Mars would have cost much more than 40 BILLION, if it would even have been that much. Then at least we would have had something to show for the money. Honestly, I would be better pleased to have seen us allocated a large part of that 40 billion to building some more probes to get information on planets and moons of our solar system. Heck, even exploring the moon more in depth, and looking into lunar mining wouldn't have cost this much. Of course, since we now have George Jr. to contend with we all might as well just continue reading our SciFi books for the next few years.

Re:Mars anyone?? (2, Insightful)

Mr_Ust (61641) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804369)

The US would have been way better off if it had initially had the goal of building a space station instead of landing a man on the moon. Why? Because although landing a man on the moon was a great achievement, it has no long-term economic benefit. A space station could serve as a launching pad for future projects, lowering the cost for other missions (such as going to Mars). IMHO, it's still vitally important to get a station up and running so that other missions can reap the benefits of past work.

Correct usage of "beg the question"? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804270)

I am just curious, i do not care much, but i am wondering: is the usage of "begs the question" in the article header correct, gramatically/in terms of definition or whatever? Are there any grammar stalinists about?

Re:Correct usage of "beg the question"? (1)

wbswbs (99099) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804341)

NO. It absolutely is not. It drives me crazy and I've been trying to withhold my comment on this but since you spoke up, here I am!

To "beg the question" means to base your queston on a conclusion that you have already reached (with respect to future or past events). For example, if I ask someone the following question...

"So, do you still beat your wife?"

...I have included in my question the conclusion that the questionee HAS beat his wife in the past. THAT is "begging the question."

What the original poster surely meant was "...this forces me to wonder whether..." or "I am compelled to ask whether..."

Get it? Got it? Good.

Re:Correct usage of "beg the question"? (O/T) (1)

adrizk (137574) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804358)

No. It's a common error. It should be "raises the question".

Here's a decent explanation [] or just do a Google search and you'll come up with a bunch of sites.

What to do with that money? (1)

shivianzealot (621339) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804272)

I dunno, build more bombs? Realistically, that's what would happen. Come on, you know I'm right!

Superior management? HAH! The only reason we can do big projects at all is because we disperse the money as widely as possible so congressman from ____ doesn't call it "mismanagement" and raise all sorts of hell because his state is getting a piece of the pie.

Better use for the money (2, Funny) (591224) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804277)

Think of how many farscape episodes this could have produced!

Why shucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804283)

For that amount of money, you might be able to get George W. Bush elected president of the United States of America. Haw!

Waste of money? (5, Interesting)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804288)

The tone of this article is that the money was spent badly. I have no doubt that it could be managed better, but it's not like the project is a write-off. I'd respond to the "What could you do with $40 billion" except I don't want to take validity away from the ISS.

I feel very strongly that we, as a species, need to have a presence in space. Right now, we are one asteroid impact away from extinction. The ISS is a very important step to ensuring that man-kind can survive a disaster like that. We need to get to Mars. We need to leave the solar system. We need to colonize other planets.

The real question is: Is $40 billion too much to spend to start us down the path of being truely, and I mean truely independent?

Trillion dollar tax cut vs 40 billion for science? (1)

BlueAlien.Org (82929) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804292)

If we can afford to give a trillion dollar+ tax cut to the middle to upper class citizens of this country, then we can afford 40 billion spent on the research and science of tomorrow.

40 billion is a lot to me and you, but to the US government, its pocket change.

- Rick

I can't wait for China's space program! (5, Insightful)

hpulley (587866) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804296)

I sure hope China gets their Taikonauts up in space soon! If they put a space station up and start heading for the Moon, it should light a fire under NASA's @$$.

Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804300)

I think we should have invested the 40 billion into giving up more of our personal liberties. Nowadays we have abandoned so many, why not dump the rest?

you'd wish they'd played Civilization (2)

newsdee (629448) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804301)

Whatever the cost, they would be building a ship destined to Alpha Centauri. :-)

4 words for DOJ's use of $40 billion... (1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804308)

  1. hostile
  2. takeover
  3. of
  4. microsoft
That'd end a lot of lawsuits, wouldn't it?

Good acronym (1)

Stalke (20083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804310)

I like what Rep. Tim Roemer calls the ISS, the "International Sucking Sound".

Yeah, Whatever (3, Insightful)

Vaulter (15500) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804311)

Big deal. Things cost money. It's estimated that building new WTC towers will be about $12 billion. And that's on Earth! We are talking about a Space Station ("That's no moon...That's a space station!" ), not some shed out in someone's backyard. It's not like you can just rent a truck from Home Depot to deliver the supplies you need. Not to mention that astronauts have a little bit more training, and are higher paid than carpenters.

But on the other hand, we probably don't have to worry about terrorists flying airplanes into it.

It's relative... (1)

ayeco (301053) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804312)

Well, considering that the US Department of the Treasury's reported that in Fiscal Year of 2002 (ending on September 30 2002) the total receipts was $1,853 billion.

Thats $1,853,000,000,000, so far we've spent $40,000,000,000 on the space station, leaving $1,800,000,000,000 left to give to those with entitlements.

Not too much money, really (5, Insightful)

pknoll (215959) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804318)

$40 billion? Hmm... with that, we could have paid back 1.1% of the U.S. National Debt.

The entire U.S. space program in the 1960's and 1970's cost roughly the same amount of money that U.S. consumers spent on cosmetics in the same period of time. The real cost of the space programs, even counting wasted money (it is still a lot of experimentation) is pretty low, depending on what you compare it to.

And what they're doing, at least to me, is pretty important.

Cure blindness (2)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804323)

Whoa.....$40Bil. How about giving 2.5% of that to cure blindness? We could start off with some of the easier forms of blindness like some types of retinitis pigmentosa with gene therapy as has been shown in Briard dogs, move on to diabetic retinopathy, wet and dry macular degeneration, and finally create an artificial retina both bionically and biologically. Perhaps 1 billion over ten years should do it, and think of all the technology that could be generated for NASA, DARPA, etc..etc..etc...

$40 billion..........Damn.

I know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804327)

They could have built a super mega Lego Space elevator. Then Michael might be happy. Naw, he'd probably still find something to bitch about.


cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804330)


Das Kapital, baby!!!!!!

For god sakes, think of the child^W astronauts! (1)

Brandon30X (34344) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804332)

Not saying NASA cant cut costs, but they have to
worry about human life here. There is no room for error. The same people on /. complaining about NASA's huge budget will be the same people pointing their fingers at NASA the very instant they screw up because they left out a saftey feature to cut costs.

If you think this is a lot... (1)

anarchima (585853) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804342)

...then look at how much is being wasted on the US Defence budget. This sort of money is almost pocket change for the generals up in the Pentagon.

If only they would have used WIN2k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4804343)

SEE... If only they used win2k.. EVERYBODY knows win2k can save 11-22% of total cost of ownership as compared to (insert your cool technology here)! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING

Space Station vs Going to Mars/Moon/Whatever (5, Insightful)

kakos (610660) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804345)

To all the people that are saying "Why not spend the $40B on going to Mars/Moon/Whatever?" A space station is *neccessary* to that goal. Unless you want NASA to perform a series of visits that last a day and then leave, you're going to want a orbital staging point. Any colonization efforts will almost certainly require a space station of some sort.

Why, you ask? Because it costs too much to launch from Earth every time (And a colony WILL require a lot of launches at first). Ideally, what we want is a dry dock in space where we can build any space craft. Simply send materials up and have them built in space. Then launch the completed ship from there.

Furthermore, a orbital habitat would give us a place to become acclimated to the environment of space.

The ultimate plan should be to build a space station, and put people up there in a more permanent manner in order to get some people acclimated. After a simple space station is completed, a dry dock should be built. From that dry dock, a ship should be built. That ship would be sent to the Moon, where a colony and a similar space station/dry dock would be built. Once we have a staging point around the Moon, then we would be able to colonize Mars.

I really don't care about putting people on Mars for a few days and then having them come back. Anything they could do on a two day mission, a probe can probably do the same thing. The only reason I want a person on Mars is to start a colony and a LOT of preparation must be made in order to feasibly do that.

better management :-) (4, Insightful)

basiles (626992) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804348)

I think that the better management sentence is a bit idealistic. I don't know about any huge (or even big) project which is well managed.

Human beings are not able to manage big projects. (This is true everwhere, in every country, both in private and public sectors, etc...).

So the initial hypothesis ("if better managed") is simply false.

I'm Confused (5, Interesting)

nemesisj (305482) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804353)

Do we hate NASA today or love them? Or hate NASA and love space? Or hate space and love other things to spend money on? My 2 cents is that money spent on space is always recouped by space-related technologies making their way into everyday use.

Billion (2)

SaturnTim (445813) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804357)

A billion here, a billion there...
It soon starts to add up to real money!


Could have been spent... (2)

iiioxx (610652) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804365)

1) Low-cost housing for low-wage Americans to eleviate the national homelessness problem.

2) Government training programs and day-care centers to get people off of welfare and out working.

3) Funding of federal free lunch programs and food stamp supplements to insure that no American child goes to bed hungry.

Scientific endeavor is noble and inspiring. But let's fix the problems here on Earth first.

Welfare for scientists (2)

JThaddeus (531998) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804371)

Let's face it--in an organization so badly mismanaged as NASA, almost any money spent is money down a rathole. After working two years with the NASA HQ global change group (the Earth Observing System, at the time, the 2d biggest office), I concluded that while DoD wastes more money, they cannot waste as great a percentage of their budget as NASA does. Those PhDs spend their days shoveling out money to their good buddies at various universities and NASA centers, barely looking at what comes back. Ergo my subject line: NASA is simply welfare for scientists.

As a comparison... (1, Offtopic)

michael (4716) | more than 11 years ago | (#4804375)

The Bush tax cut will cut the U.S. Treasury's revenue this year by about $15 billion, just for the top 1% of the U.S. population. Next year, those same 1% will take home an extra $26 billion (and it keeps going up: the cut is back-loaded from 2001-2010. By 2010 it's worth $121 billion per year to the top 1%.).

So if the richest people in the U.S. hadn't had their taxes cut for 2002 and 2003, we could build another space station. :)

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